Mandy Reviews: Carrie Ryan—"The Dead-Tossed Waves"


The Dead-Tossed Waves is the first sequel – or companion – to The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Ryan’s super successful zombie novel. I have to confess, I didn’t like The Forest of Hands and Teeth. In fact, it was one of my least favourite reads last year. I found it stilted, hard-going. So why did I bother with its companion? Well, late last year I reviewed a brilliant collection of short stories: ‘Zombies vs Unicorns’ right here at Burn Bright. One of the featured stories was ‘Bougainvillea’ by Carrie Ryan. It was set in the same world as TFoHaT, but with a different protagonist. I loved it. Bougainvillea made me want to know about Ryan’s dark world.

While TFoHaT is the story of Mary, The Dead-Tossed Waves is told from her daughter Gabry’s point of view, and set twenty (maybe more?) years in the future. Gabry is a far more likable character, not as tightly wound as her mother was (although Mary seems to have loosened up somewhat over the years).

Gabry and a group of teenage friends decide to risk all and escape for a night beyond the barrier, the wall that keeps them safe from the hoards of Mudo, also known as the Unconsecrated, or, as we would call them: Zombies. Unlike her mother, Gabry is scared. Scared of disobeying the rules, scared of dying – and scared of living. Of course, their adventure in an abandoned amusement park ends badly and that’s where the fun begins. Some of her friends are turned by a ‘Breaker’, or fast moving Mudo, some are killed and some are missing. Gabry escapes back to her lighthouse home, pretending she was never there that night while her surviving friends are left to accept the consequences of actions that could have endangered the survival of the human race. From our vantage point inside Gabry’s head, we learn how she copes with the guilt of betraying everyone she loves, and in turn, how she goes about setting that right. It is a fast-moving tale that sets you on edge; one minute you relax into a scene, thinking the characters are safe, the next something diabolical happens – no one is safe in a world full of Mudo.

The Dead-Tossed Waves is a beautiful story of how one young woman can change everything. Gabry has real depth, it’s easy to empathise with her even while we cringe at her mistakes. Ryan has also managed to create a love triangle in a world full of stinking, rotting body parts that actually works. In fact, it’s kinda hard to decide which team you’re on – Gabry and Catcher’s or Gabry and Elias’. Ryan makes the reader question themselves – what matters more, lust or love? The evil you know, or the one you don’t? Is it really worth giving up all you know and love to ‘do the right thing?’

Unlike the first book, this one delves deeper into the character rather than the world around her, though somewhere along the way, we learn far more about this dystopian world than we did before. The Dead-Tossed Waves not only stands alone as an excellent read, but makes much more sense of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Just goes to show… it’s always worth giving an author or a series a second chance.

The Dead-Tossed Waves – Carrie Ryan

Published 08/02/11 by Random House

Paperback, 432 Pages

ISBN: 9780575090927


  • Cecilia

    Have this series in the TBR pile looks like I had definitely give it a go 🙂

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