Published by Delacorte Press on March 9, 2010
Hardcover, 416 pages
Rating: 5 Bookcases
Summary from Goodreads: Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.
Reading The Dead-Tossed Waves is like taking a master class in world building. From the very first chapter, Carrie Ryan immerses the reader in the world she has created. There is no adjustment period, you start reading and you are in Vista, the small coastal town where Gabry and Mary live. Within a short span of pages you know about the smallness and isolation of Vista as well as the endlessness of the ocean and the vastness of the forest that surround it.
The Dead-Tossed Waves is Gabry’s story, even more than The Forest of Hands and Teeth was Mary’s. Gabry lives a quiet life with her mother at the Lighthouse, until she and her friends break the rules and go over the Barrier into an abandoned amusement park. Their adventure quickly turns to horror as three people get infected and others get arrested. Gabry manages to leave before getting caught, but she must live with the consequences of her decision, beginning the next day as she watched her best friend being publically sentenced.
In the midst of dealing with guilt over not being caught, Gabry learns a piece of information about Mary and herself that changes her life completely. How Gabry deals with the information and how Mary reacts after telling her shapes everything: every thought Gabry has and every action she takes are a direct result of what she learns. At first, it makes Gabry reckless; she goes from being someone who is overly cautious to risking everything, but eventually she begins to see what is important to her and to the survival of everyone she cares about. Gabry knows that the only way to save herself and her loved ones is to escape from Vista and head into the Forest. She hopes she can find a place where they will all be safe. The constant wondering of “there must be more” is a thread throughout much of the second half of the book.
There is also romance, of course. Gabry is lucky to have two boys (men?) vying for her affection. I wanted to like both of them equally, but I felt that there was one who stood out, who would be a better match for Gabry. It just took her a long while to figure out who she really wanted to be with. This didn’t bother me because there were so many other important things Gabry had to deal with, that figuring out her love life did not need to be the focus of her thoughts. And really, in figuring this out, she is asking herself if she should take the easy way or let herself feel what she is feeling.
The ending is breathtaking. I was on the edge of my seat reading the last few chapters, hoping that things would end well. The ending is full of hope, even more so than the ending of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. There is hope that Gabry and her loved ones will be able to make a new life for themselves.