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The Dark and Hollow Places: Carrie Ryan

Book: The Dark and Hollow Places
Author: Carrie Ryan
Pages: 384
Age Range: 13 and up

Cover The Dark and Hollow Places is the final book in Carrie Ryan's riveting Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy (see my reviews of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves). It is as suspenseful as the first two books. And that's saying something. This post-apocalyptic series is set in a world overrun by zombies, in which only a few scattered communities of uninfected humans remain. Faced with constant danger, Carrie Ryan's characters fight for to survive and to retain their humanity.

The Dark and Hollow Places is narrated by Annah, the long-lost twin sister of Gabry from The Dead-Tossed Waves. Annah lives in what was once New York City (now called Dark City), where the Unconsecrated are not the only peril. The Recruiters, a group of military men who once protected the people from the zombies, have degenerated into power-hungry bullies, to be avoided at all costs.

Annah is scarred, physically and emotionally, from the events of her childhood, particularly her own long-ago abandonment of her sister, and Annah's more recent abandonment by the man she loved, Elias. Her loneliness is crushing. And when the opportunity arises to care about people again, she has a difficult time opening herself up. Annah is a great character - strong, vulnerable, complex, bright, and determined. The reader aches for her, fears for her, and cheers for her.

I particularly liked Carrie Ryan's use of different narrators for the three books in this series. It's interesting to see the characters from different perspectives, particularly Annah's view of the twin sister who grew up so differently than she did.

The Dark and Hollow Places is quite bleak - hordes of zombies are overrunning the last safe havens for the living. There's a real possibility that humanity will be completely wiped out. Even the safe places are not very safe. Annah is so hard-edged that she makes Mary and Gabry, the protagonists of the first two books in the series, seem soft by comparison. (Though I liked her the best of the three).

And yet, The Dark and Hollow Places is not too bleak to read (though this series won't be for everyone). The book's fast pace doesn't leave time to focus on the bleakness of the setting - the reader is too busy trying to find out what will happen next. There's a compelling love story between two broken characters. And, as with the best post-apocalyptic fiction, there are essential questions about what it means to survive when others don't, and how to choose to live your life when you know that you might have very limited time.

Here are a couple of quotes, to give you a feel for the book:

"Everything explodes inside me with the need to survive and escape and the terror-fueled realization that I might not be able to." (Page 33)

"The walls were covered with photographs: shiny bulletlike machines that sped through the tunnels called subways, sloping parks with families picnicking while kids clutched balloons. Buildings that stood tall, the glare of light bouncing off them so bright that even from the dingy picture I wondered how people back then didn't go blind." (Page 93)

"I glance at the Dark City across the river, a few buildings still flickering with light as the handful of survivors huddle behind thin curtains slung across broken windows. All of them tiny little stars in their own constellations waiting to fall to infection and become ghosts of what they used to be." (Page 248)

I found The Dark and Hollow Places to be a worthy end to a compelling series. The Dark and Hollow Places is a must-read for fans of this series. And the series is a must-read for fans of post-apocalyptic fiction and paranormal love stories. The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a series that I think that I'll re-read one day. Given all of the books on my to read stack, that is a strong endorsement.

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, and may result in my receiving a small commission on purchases (with no additional cost to you).