Stacey's Reviews > The Dead-Tossed Waves

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
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's review
May 06, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: children-and-young-adult, borrowed-from-library, books-by-women, my-review-or-notes

If anything, The Dead-Tossed Waves is as much about what it is to be a teenaged girl, as it is about the walking dead. Sure, there's no shortage of creepy corpses, and we know everything has gone to hell-on-earth, and the zombies are winning. But it isn't the mudo that kept me up past one o'clock in the morning finishing the story, it was Gabry's emotion. Reading this, not only could I remember what it was like to be 16 and in love, I could almost feel it. Remember that? When nothing else could ever be so important as being madly in love with a boy, and replaying that moment over and over when you sat so close, and almost kissed? I'm glad those days are over, and glad I'll never go back, but wow do I ever remember!

The Dead-Tossed Waves is as much young adult romance novel as horror. As a zombie novel, the setting is unique because it's generations past the apocalyptic crisis. It's POST post - so far past that the youngest generations (many of them) don't even believe the “legends” of airplanes, cities, and science. These parts of the story are interesting, but the real “action” is the angst and excitement of teenaged love. A glance or brush of the hand can be as devastating or life-affirming as an encounter with the undead.

With 16 well before the half-way point in my life, I can't help but read the story with an almost jaded eye of the adult telling the child “oh honey, there are bigger things than kissing that boy.” But then I remember the boy I never kissed, and the boy I did, and I know that was the most important thing in all of my existence in that moment, and the house could have fallen down around me without my notice.

Ryan makes an interesting choice for a series; instead of following a single storyline through books #1 and #2, she chooses a different character, separating her stories by many years. All indications are that the third book is the same. This is a bit disconcerting, since both The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and The Dead-Tossed Waves end with cliffhangers. The Forest's cliffhanger is obliquely resolved with a few references in Dead-Tossed. I'm going to guess that The Dark and Hollow Places (Book #3,) will do something similar with Dead-Tossed's ending.

All of that being said, in general, I prefer my characters to have a bit more self-awareness than the main character, Gabry. These books are not heavy on character development, and although they are written in a style that suggests it's all about the individuals, everyone in this story is a character sketch. Very few of them have more than roughly drawn backstories or motivations. And even Gabry's teenaged disquiets and euphorias really exclude all other development of her character. In fact, there are more things in these stories that should have caused me to hate them, than there are to compel me to read them – and yet, 1am passed me by without blinking.

I suppose the biggest redeeming quality, for me, is that I love the way Ryan writes. I love the cadence of her words, her descriptions, her pacing... I suspect that I could read a story about the itsy-bitsy spider climbing his spout, and if it were written by her, I'd get sucked in, even if it went on for 100 pages.

3 stars because, as a story, it's a only a wee bit more than okay, but an extra star for making me embrace the okay-ness.
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