Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister's face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters. Annah's world stopped that day, and she's been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn't feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again. But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it's up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return's destruction?
And here's what I thought: Ok.... I have a confession to make: I received this book as part of the Book it Forward ARC Tours and I had just read it. I had actually forgotten all about the book tour (but not the book, no, not at all)... and it arrived in my mail and I realized.... I had read it and never posted anything about it. And this is such a good book.... I think I just needed to get my thoughts all together before trying to write anything down.
Let me just say --- I picked up the first book in this series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and was completely entranced. I waited and waited for the second book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and I held my breath when I got it, hoping hoping hoping that it wouldn't fall into a sophomore slump.... and it was just as good as the first book (maybe even better). And then... I waited for this book, the third in the series. I had ordered it for my library and had been waiting to get my hands on it (after the first few people who had a hold on it, that is). And then, I had one of my best days ever... last Friday, at C2E2, a most lovely and wonderful girl from Random House gave me an ARC of this book. I do believe she was some kind of angel in disguise. Needless to say, I started to devour this book on the way home.... and gulped it right down. Then, had to sit and digest everything.
If you are familiar with the first two books, you will be ready for the way this book plunges right in to the story. And if you haven't read the first two books, please stop reading this post..... and go read the first two books (please). Annah is such a wonderful character -- my heart just ached for her all the way through the book. Her situation is pretty dire, and things really never seem to let up. I have to say, she's one of the strongest female characters I've read in a long time --- she's not a "take names, kick-ass" kind of girl; she's the kind of girl who, when things get rough, just squares her chin and keeps on going, determined to figure out a way to make things work. She's not perfect, but her flaws make her intensely real. What she goes through, alone, waiting for Elias, is difficult enough, and when Catcher arrived in the story, I hoped life would ease up on her a bit. But no. Catcher's got his own issues (and they are pretty big issues, I must say), and while he helps Annah, he doesn't make anything easier for her.
What I love about these books is the world that Carrie Ryan has created for us. It's certainly not a world I would want to live in, so when I say I love it, it's not like that. What I love is how vivid it is. Her writing is descriptive and effective, evocative. It's a bleak world, and difficult to imagine --- but I get a pretty clear picture in my head when I read, and I'm grateful for that. Ryan gives me just enough so that my imagination can fill things in (and make the world truly gritty and awful). The horror she presents isn't just in the Returned, but in the people who are still left. When Annah reaches the Recruiters, it starts to become plain that the men who have survived against the Returned have truly become monsters, themselves. This is what is frightening, and very real.
I can't say enough about how much I love these three books. I was talking to someone at the library recently, and I mentioned this author and we both were saying, "She is so awesome. LOVE those books!" Yes.
First sentences: "This city used to be something once. I've seen pictures of the way it gleamed - sun so bright off windows it could burn your eyes. At night, lights shouted from steel like catcalls loud and lewd, while all day long white-gloved men rushed to open doors for women who tottered about on skyscraper heels. I wonder sometimes what happened to those women when the Return hit - how they were able to run, and survive, with such absurd contraptions strapped to their feet."
Thoughts on the cover: So, so, perfect --- with the girl laying, with her hands curled -- conveys the mood of the story perfectly.