Annah has been fending for herself in the dark city since Elias left her to join the Recruiters. Finally she realizes he’s probably not coming back and sets off to see if she can find her old village in the Forest of Hands and Teeth. On her way, she thinks she sees her long lost sister and meets Catcher – who tells her the horde is on the way and the city is no longer safe.
It’s funny, because until this installment, I always thought these books were set on the west coast. Guess I was wrong!
Of the three protagonists in this series, Annah’s had it the hardest. Not only did she grow up as an orphan, she also had an accident that physically scarred her for life. (An aside – apparently even in a world overrun by zombies, people still think looks matter.) She spends a lot of the book moping that no one could possibly love her because she’s broken, and comparing herself to her perfect sister Gabry (who is much less annoying now that we are not inside her head).
This has always been a series where you have to suspend disbelief, but I had the most believability issues with THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES. My main point of contention is with the portrayal of the recruiters, a whole group of selfish, sadistic and stupid men who never once show the slightest bit of compassion (either out of strategy or decency). I find it hard to believe that every last one of them is rotten through and through. Then there’s the Annah/Catcher romance. Catcher didn’t deem himself good enough for Gabry, but since Annah’s scarred, she’s fair game? Curious. (Though despite this, I did think they were very tender and sweet with each other). And finally, the escape scene towards the end is inventive and gorgeous, but wildly implausible.
What I did love was that we got a look at the state of the rest of the world, and that, as always, Ryan knows how to turn a phrase. Despite unimaginable odds, there were still people who longed to live a life instead of merely trying to survive another day. That's an awesome takeaway, I'd say.
Zombie chickens say: Live life to the fullest - even if the zombie hordes are beating down your door.
THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH (read my review)
THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES (read my review)
THE DARK AND HOLLOW PLACES (available now)
Find out more about the series at the author's website.
Song for the Ultimate Dystopian Playlist: Conversation 16 by The National. Sample lyrics: "I think they kids are in trouble, do not know what their troubles are for. Give them ice for their fevers, you're the only thing I ever want anymore." (scene where Gabry & Elias are sick) "I was afraid, I'd eat your brains." (Catcher - definitely!)
See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore