Saturday, May 14, 2011

"The Dark & Hollow Places," by Carrie Ryan

Let me tell you something. Carrie Ryan knows how to write a book. Her writing is so fine-tuned, there isn't a single sentence that should be cut. She knows how to build and break tension, how to amp up horror, how to give moments of utter peace, and how to create a world so unique, terrible, and lonely that it breaks your heart. Yet you cheer on the characters, your heart races along with theirs, your muscles tense as if to join their fight, you hope against hope for a happy ending.

Carrie Ryan knows how to write a book.

In this third offering, a companion to "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" and "The Dead-Tossed Waves," Annah survives in a world that is nearly completely overcome by plague rats--Mudo, Unconsecrated. Zombies. Left on her own for nearly three years as Elias (first seen in "Dead-Tossed Waves") joined up with the Recruiters, Annah has learned to take care of herself. She blends in with crowds, keeps to herself, and lives with the guilt for having once left her bleeding, frightened twin sister, Abigail, in the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

As she's about to set off to finally find her sister, convinced Elias will never return, Annah sees her sister in the Dark City as she is taken prisoner by the Recruiters. Meeting up with Catcher (also from DTW), they find Elias just as a horde of the Mudo break down the barriers to the Dark City. In order to save themselves, Catcher, who is infected but immune to the disease, making him unnoticed by Mudo, turns himself in to the Recruiters in exchange for the safety of the others. Catcher uses his ability to walk among the Mudo unscathed to scavenge for supplies and is kept in line by the threat of harm against Annah, Elias and Gabry (Abigail).

The backdrop of millions of undead clamoring for their blood serves only to highlight the cruelty of the Recruiters as they kill other humans for sport and try to use Annah and Gabry for their own sick pleasures. Annah and the others are left to wonder what kind of world they are trying to survive for if what's left is so poisoned.

5 stars

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