The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2
Release Date: March 9, 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: 1 out of 5
This bloody book. I don't even know where to begin tbh. I'd read The Forest of Hands and Teeth and loved it so much I immediately ordered the next book, naively thinking the series would be consistently good throughout. Alas.
The protagonist of The Dead-Tossed Waves, Gabrielle, is the daughter of Mary, the first book's protagonist. You would think this means that Gabrielle is an interesting, complicated character. You would be wrong. This incredibly annoying child spends a large majority of the book 'torn' between two guys and for some ass-backwards reason her interest in them grows in direct proportion with the amount of danger she finds herself in. Like, do I care about which one she wants to kiss more? Seriously, Gabrielle? Seriously? I was not a fan of Travis and Henry from the first book but they are riveting compared to Elias and Catcher, one of whom wanders around in a white tunic and the other of whom is named after a position on a Quidditch team. Ugggggh, I hated them all so much. Amongst many other traits, what really annoyed me about Gabrielle was that she allowed herself to be led, usually against her own wishes, over and over again. To make it worse, there are points in the book where she actively wishes for someone, and by that she really means 'a guy', to make her decisions for her. Because all teenage girls are incapable of having their own minds, don't you know.
In any novel Gabrielle would piss me off but she grates on me especially because of the world she inhabits. She lives in a world overrun with Mudo - the undead, and her life is restricted by rules and regulations to keep people safe. As events take place, forcing Gabrielle beyond the confines of her safe, comfortable life and into increasingly dangerous situations, she remains very much a character who is acted upon rather than developing naturally. A lot of her actual 'journey', so to speak, is preoccupied with the choice she feels she has to make between two guys rather than the all too real danger of dying. Gabrielle never focuses for very long on her life past her love interests, and after a while I stopped attempting to care and started hoping she would die and put me out of my misery. For real, the girl is supposedly courageous, intelligent and mature but trust me when I say that none of these traits ever surface. Ugh.
Elias and Catcher are not particularly compelling characters but I'll touch on them briefly. Basically, they each come with a heaving dose of manpain, issues with possessiveness and like Gabrielle, are each super special in their own ways. Elias used to belong to the Recruiters, which is the closest thing their world has to an army, as well as the Soulers, which are like a religious cult that really loves the undead. Whatever gets them through, I guess. Also he's looking for some girl but don't worry, this doesn't stop him from being a weird creeper when it comes to Gabrielle. Catcher is special because he is immune to the infection; if a Mudo was to attack him, unlike most people, Catcher would not succumb to the bite. This makes him desirable for the Recruiters but as you would expect, dude is way more concerned with Gabrielle. Whatever.
As for the good points of the novel, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ryan's prose is still as beautiful as it was in the first book. She has the ability to bring to life the bleakest of atmospheres; her use of imagery and description is stunning. Mary, who in this novel is a secondary character, is still one of the best things about this entire series. She remains as complicated and flawed as she was in The Forest of Hands and Teeth; I love her. One of my favourite aspects of this novel initially put me off; the implied relationship between Harry and Mary is as unexpected as it is a really good example of how humans mature over time. I loved that Harry accepted his mistakes, acknowledging why they couldn't have worked when they were younger but as adults, how they fit together. It just felt so realistic to me; I also really appreciated that the novel explained that Mary sought more than just love and that she deserved to find what she was looking for. The world itself was intriguing but there was not nearly enough focus on it.
I am sure there are people who will read this book and love it but for me, it failed to deliver. I absolutely loathed it. The good parts of the novel are completely smothered by the romance and Gabrielle is such an irritating protagonist that what had the potential to be a somewhat enjoyable story is ruined by her existence. So yup, I would not recommend.