There is nothing better than reading a sequel that's better than it's predecessor. Okay, well, maybe I can think of a few things, like chocolate, lots of chocolate, and really good coffee in the morning, and my husband would make that list too. He's pretty awesome, especially when he makes me coffee in the morning! But, other than that, a kick-butt sequel totally takes the cake. (What does that cliche mean anyway? It makes no sense. Where would you take a cake anyway?) I digress.
The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan, sequel to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, accomplished what few second books do: Its story blew the first one out of the water. (No pun intended.) Now, if you keep up with this blog, you'll know that I also loved the previous book, so that should give you a hint as to how much this one rocked.
Gabry lives in Vista, a town on the ocean in a post apocalyptic world where the Mudo wash up on the shores of the land. Her mother, as the keeper of the lighthouse, is responsible for clearing the beaches. Cutting off the heads of the already dead before they trudge back to life again isn't high on Gabry's list of things she prefers to do every morning. She'd much rather be dreaming about her future with Catcher, a future that would probably involve a semi decent life if she could convince him to stay inside the fences where they're safe from the Mudo.
But, show me a teenager who doesn't test the boundaries, be it alone or as a result of pressure from friends. This is how Gabry ends up outside the fences in the ruins of the amusement park where she discovers that her dreams about Catcher's love are reciprocated. This would make for a great love story if it weren't for the fact that a Breaker attacks her group of friends and Catcher is bitten.
A bite from Mudo means death and return. Suddenly, Gabry's world is turned upside down. She escapes and watches her friends punished for going outside the boundaries. To make up for not getting caught, she promises her best friend, Cira, that she will find Catcher, who has gone missing.
When her search leads her to the shores beyond the boundaries and right into another attack of Mudo, Elias saves her. It isn't until later she discovers he's a souler: one of those crazy cult members who worship the Mudo, except, he seems different somehow. He leads her to Catcher, who still hasn't turned Mudo and won't since he's immune.
Great, end of story. They live happily ever after. I don't think so. Being immune is extremely rare and when the recruiters find out, they'll want Catcher for reconnaissance missions. You see, the Mudo can't sense him, which would mean he could enter territory that is infested with Mudo, and get to places that hold supplies. Unfortunately, just turning himself in won't keep his friends safe. They'll be kept as ransom for him to return from these missions. Because of this, Catcher, Gabry and Elias and Cira escape into the Forest of Hands and Teeth.
This should be easy for them because Gabry's mother, Mary from the first book, left clues right before she ran back into the forest herself. Seeking out a village would be a great idea. Maybe they could even settle down and forget about life in Vista. The question is, who would Gabry settle down with? Catcher refuses to kiss her again for fear of infecting her and though her heart belongs to him, she's constantly being pulled toward Elias.
With the Forest full of Mudo, the love of her life infected, her best friend injured and the recruiters hunting them down, how will they ever find their way through? If there is any hope for Gabry's future, she has to discover the truth about her past and her mother's past. Only then can she make the choice between the two men who've both grown to love her and maybe, just maybe, outrun the living and the dead who are out for her blood.
I think the thing I love about these stories is how detailed Ryan is in creating this world. When I can entirely picture every detail and have no open ended questions, the author has done his or her job. Kudos to you, Ms. Ryan! I can't wait to read more of your work.