When I read Carrie Ryan’s YA novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth I enjoyed it, partially because of how the zombie story and the escape and the doomed teen romance all worked together. The Dead-Tossed Waves is the sequel (and second book in the series), and I didn’t like it as much. It is entirely possible I am getting zombie-fatigue.
Gabry, the hero of this story is the daughter of the hero from The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I quite liked that there was this generational split and that the reader could see Gabry’s mom with different information than Gabry herself had. The big arc for Gabry is how she goes from a desire for safety and security and following the rules to escape and challenge and doing things she didn’t think possible. I’m glad it got where it was going because I couldn’t stand Gabry’s whininess in the first part of the book.
There’s a forbidden love triangle between Gabry, and two boys: Catcher and Elias. Catcher’s been bitten by a zombie (directly after their first kiss – talk about punishing transgression) which makes romance there difficult. Elias is looking for his sister and is so capable but keeps too many secrets (for no real reason other than the plot demands it).
I was also disappointed that there was so little nautical adventure, considering the title. There were tantalizing mentions of pirates but none actually appeared in a book named for the sea. Maybe they’ll be in the third. The end is set up for a direct sequel, not a next generation kind of thing.
It’s not a bad book. There’s a good clever puzzle Gabry solves using Shakespeare to find their way through the gates in the forest, which I quite liked. It pushes a little hard on the doomed romance angle for my tastes; it feels more like the Edward/Jacob setup than a Peeta/Gale situation, but that’s probably because Gabry feels much more like a Bella than a Katniss, at least early on in the book.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a pretty big deal in the YA SF community. I remember one of my WPL co-workers (am I allowed to say where I used to work now, Rick?) who was a YA librarian who was so incredibly anticipatory of Mockingjay (the third in the series). They’re making a movie of it, for what that’s worth.
I’ve often heard of this book as the antithesis of Twilight. Katniss Everdeen is a girl from one of the conquered districts in this dystopian future America. She is awesome though because she goes out into the unregulated forest and hunts with a bow and brings home food to sell to her village. Because everyone is kept poor and hungry and working in coal mines in her district.
The titular games are a sacrifice each of the conquered districts makes to the capital for having dared to rebel generations ago. One boy and one girl from each district (there are 12 of them, the 13th having been destroyed) are pitted against each other in a televised (but more futuristic than television) fight to the death.
What makes Katniss awesome is how strong she is. She is making active choices throughout the novel, shaping her future which has consequences. There’s a romance subplot driven by the boy who goes from her district, but Katniss is into the strategy of it all, and there’s not a lot of room for pining for a vampire to be her true love.
Highly recommended. At some point I’ll probably read the sequels, because this book just set things up and you can tell the stakes are moving up from a mere bloody battle royale.
Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist is pretty freakin’ great. It’s a vampire novel… no wait, don’t stop reading. It’s not emo-vampire crap like Twilight or “Vampires are just like regular people but sexy” like True Blood. It’s about a cursed monster and is suitably horrible.
Let Me In is about a vampire that moves into a suburb of Stockholm in 1981. The vampire appears to be a twelve year old girl and she has a guy who appears to be her father who goes out and harvests blood for her (which is tricky because the victim needs to be alive as it’s getting bled out). He’s also a pedophile who’s being manipulated by the vampire’s knowledge of his lusts. The main protagonist is a 12-year-old boy who is their neighbour. He gets bullied and wets himself and dreams of being able to kill his persecutors. There’s also an assortment of drunks who’re trying to figure out what’s going on after one of their friends disappears. They’re like the completely inept and unsuitable Van Helsing squad, in that they behave the way a bunch of losers would.
This (Swedish) book was turned into a (Swedish) movie, Let The Right One In, which is supposed to be scary and great and is how the book came to my attention. They’re also doing an American remake of the movie (called Let Me In) which pleases me not a lot.
I’d hoped to be able to recommend this as an antidote to teens who say they like vampire novels because they read Stephenie Meyer or Darren Shan, but all the pedophilia and graphic disfigurement probably makes it way inappropriate. It’s too bad though because the vampire is suitably monstrous. It reminds you there’s a downside to the whole eternal life deal. Plus there’s some good ol’ redemptive violence to make you feel good at the end.