Thursday, February 17, 2011

Review of The Dark and Hollow Places

The Dark and Hollow Places
by Carrie Ryan
Young Adult zombie fiction
Pub date March 22nd

Yesterday one of my students, who is in sixth grade, asked me, "If you don't like zombies, then why did you start reading those zombie books?"

She was referring, of course, to the Forest of Hands and Teeth novels by Carrie Ryan.

I didn't have an honest answer for her, because even I am not quite sure why I started reading the series. I know why I continued beyond the first few pages, though. The books are good. They're not your usual run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse story, since the apocalypse happens over a hundred years before the first book starts. Instead they're about the relationships between people who are struggling to make sense of a world in which humanity is a severely endangered species.

The Dark and Hollow Places is the third novel in the series. In the second, we met Gabry, a girl who grew up in the relative safety of Vista. Annah, the protagonist of book three, was not so lucky. She's been on her own in the Dark City for three years, waiting in vain for her brother to return from his service with the Recruiters. She has finally decided to move on with her life and leave the city, but before she can go she is stopped by the sight of someone she never thought she'd see again--her twin sister.

Like Ryan's other novels, this one is not a light and happy tale of triumph. It's dark, it's tortured, and it's a pretty realistic picture of what humanity will have to do to survive a zombie horde of several million undead. At least I imagine so. For all the dreariness, though, Ryan has once again managed to write a heartwarming romance into the fast-paced, action-packed plot. I hope there will be a fourth book. I love to hear about the world of Mary, Gabry, Annah, and the zombies.

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