Cyndy Otty's Reviews > The Dark and Hollow Places

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
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's review
May 04, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: kindle, young-adult
Recommended to Cyndy by: Carrie
Read from April 13 to 16, 2011 — I own a copy

The most common description I hear about this trilogy is how scary the first two books were. Being pretty squeamish when it comes to horror, it surprises me that I haven't found them particularly frightening. I don't really have any specific reason I can give for why; perhaps my mind just glossed over those bits everyone found so horrifying. Suffice it to say, I definitely can't say that about this book. I literally felt my heart rate increase during some chapters and I think I may have developed a crippling fear of the dark! Without a doubt this is certainly the most intense of the trilogy.

I also think Ryan has just continued to improve as a writer. The plot is gripping and fast-paced and fully laden with suspense. I also was pleased to see some of the threads from the previous books resolved, but it still irritates me that there's yet another love triangle. This one isn't as in-your-face the entire book and could be argued doesn't technically exist because Annah keeps internally admitting she's not in love with Elias. (Though, she waffles back and forth on that so much, I find that argument shaky at best.) Just the fact that this exact thing has been done before with other characters in both previous books, I couldn't help but groan that it emerged yet again. At least all the coupling gets resolved, so that's certainly not nothing.

Ryan also pushes the line at crossing over from young adult in this book. The level and extent of violence in this book is a big notch above the others. I suppose it's assumed in a post-apocalyptic world that things like torture and rape are going on, but while the one is merely alluded to the other is presented quite boldly. A lot of the more frightening and intense parts of the book stem from these topics and I think that's mostly due to how grounded in reality such things are. Just because there's a fantastical element that pushes the plot along, there is this fierce struggle that the characters are placed in -- especially Annah. It isn't so much about avoiding the zombie horde as trying to survive in the face of overwhelming death and relentless evil. There's a lot of intriguing philosophy thread throughout the book, too, about living one's life with worth and mortality. It's very deep and I think brings the entire series onto a different level.

In spite of that, I had a very hard time enjoying this book because I found myself almost constantly angry with Annah. Often I kept wishing another character would haul off and cuff her upside the head. While I found her self-pity understandable, her reactions often seemed irrational. It seemed like at every opportunity she was misinterpreting something said to her or a situation presented to her. And when she wasn't being downright bitchy she was just incredibly moronic. I found it very annoying to be inside her head. Though, I will say that much like Gabry, she does have a good deal of agency which was my major issue with Mary (in the first book). She's able to take initiative of her own and is the one that basically leads the group out of their predicament. It's just the entire time to getting there I wanted to physically shake her!

My main expectation for the ending of a trilogy is that the payoff be worthy and I did find this to have an adequate ending. Though, it is ambiguous enough that it doesn't feel like a true conclusion to the story as a whole. At the very least, I don't regret the investment in reading this or the series as a whole.

[Originally posted at my website.]

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