The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Halloween Books Banner


DeadTossed WavesGoodreads: The Dead-Tossed Waves
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #2
Source: Library
Published: 2010


All her life Gabry has lived in the safety of the village of Vista, protected from the ravenous Mudo by the Barrier and the militia.  Then her friends dare her to climb the Barrier and explore the old amusement park, and everything changes.  An unexpected zombie attack leaves her friends either infected or arrested, and she is left alone to brave the outside world in search of the one boy who got away.


Sometimes I reflect on the all the time I wasted listening to The Dead-Tossed Waves on audiobook and I regret my life choices.  Sure, it was sometimes unintentionally funny and the possibility of the zombie apocalypse ending the sickening love triangle filled me with naïve hope, but otherwise the book has nothing to recommend it.  An annoying protagonist; terrible prose; bizarre logic; and repetition of scenes, thoughts, and phrases are the most striking aspects of the work.

Ryan clearly wishes to establish Gabry as a different character from her mother Mary.  Mary had definite thoughts about things and acted decisively on most occasions.  Gabry, however, spends her days overanalyzing not only her own thoughts and actions, but also the words and actions of every person around her.  She talks incessantly about how she fears everything and has a strange habit of blaming herself for the actions and fates of others.  She actually thinks things like, “If only I had kissed him, he would not have fallen off that cliff!”  Seeing as the guy was walking down a path in the dark, I assume he would have fallen off regardless.

Gabry’s obsession with herself leads her to use other people to make herself feel good.  Like her mother, she finds herself involved in a weird love triangle.  She keeps both boys dangling on the string, so to speak, as she makes out with one, then the other, depending on who’s available and how they currently feel toward her.  She clearly needs physical contact to feel loved, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  However, it does lead her to do things like forcing a guy to kiss her when he’s weak from lack of sleep, lack of food, and a zombie-inflicted injury.  She says she wants to “make him feel alive,” but his subsequent rejection of her leads to nothing more than a reflection on how he used to make her feel special.  The whole time I wanted to shout, “Wouldn’t feeding him and bandaging him also make him feel more alive?!”  She would rather feel sorry for herself than potentially save his life—and she calls that love.

These things were annoying, but the annoyance was multiplied according to how often they were repeated.  Gabry has to stop to think about her fear and her sadness all the time—just about after every plot-significant episode.  She typically does so in the same words.  Sentences like “Everything was happening too fast” and general reflections on how she doesn’t know who she is anymore, how she doesn’t know her mother, how she wants safety occur again…and again…and again….  Once the audiobook skipped back a couple of chapters by accident and though I recognized the passage, I did not stop to look at where it was because I assumed the book was reusing scenes and sentences as usual.

The weird logic used in the book also bothered me.  Initially I thought just Gabry was a little obsessive about blaming herself for things and overanalyzed everything too much.  Then she started doing things like blaming herself for someone getting bitten by a zombie and others agreed.  Perhaps they were just scared and angry, I thought.  Then she blamed her mother for leaving her friends in the forest.  Anyone who has read the first book might assume that it is understandable one would not race through a zombie-infested wood to find people who are probably dead by now.  But her mother agreed.  Then she blamed someone for tearing her past from her because they had saved her from zombies when she was a child.  The person agreed.  Clearly I had entered another dimension where what constitutes rationality has a different meaning.

I only read this book because I was hoping to learn more about the zombies.  Since it was only another crazy love triangle and the third book seems to be the same, I intend to leave the trilogy uncompleted.

Krysta 64


What Type of Spooky Story Would You Belong In? (A Halloween Personality Quiz)

Spooky Story Halloween Personality Quiz Banner

Celebrate Halloween with us at Pages Unbound by taking this bookish personality quiz! Find out what type of spooky Halloween story you should star in!

Quiz Instructions


To take the quiz, choose the best answer to each question. Write down the letter of the answer you pick for each question, or simply keep a running tally of how many of each letter you pick. After the last question, count the letters and see which you chose most often. Check the answers to see what type of spooky tale you would star in if you lived in a book and share your results with us in the comments!

Disclaimer: This quiz is just for fun, and Pages Unbound makes no claim to know much about your personality at all.

When you’ve finished, check out our other personality quizzes here!   Or you can read our ultimate guide to Halloween bookish entertainment.

Quiz Questions

The Quiz

1. Which of the following subjects did you enjoy most in school?
a.) science
b.) physical education
c.) literature

2. If offered three items, which would you choose?
a.) a necklace
b.) a mirror
c.) a knife

3. What is your favorite season?
a.) fall
b.) summer
c.) winter

4. Which career would you most enjoy?
a.) artist
b.) historian
c.) actor

5. Which color best describes your personality?
a.) purple
b.) green
c.) red

6. Where would you most like to live?
a.) the forest
b.) the suburbs
c.) a bustling city

7. Which section of a bookstore would you visit first?
a.) fantasy
b.) nonfiction
c.) classics

8. Which are you most likely to write?
a.) poetry
b.) short stories
c.) letters

Continue reading

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Halloween Books Banner


Goodreads: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Series: The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1
Source: Library
Published: 2009


Mary’s village lies in the middle of a forest encircled by a fence through which no one ever leaves.  Outside, the Unconsecrated prowl, hungering for human flesh.  Only the wisdom of the Sisterhood and the vigilance of the Guardians keeps the village safe.  Most people believe things have always been this way.  Mary’s mother, however, has told her stories of the ocean, stories of a world that used to be free.  Mary wants to find that world, but the Sisterhood harbors secrets and they will do just about anything to keep those secrets safe.


The Forest of Hands and Teeth sounds like a zombie dystopia story.  Mary lives in a village cut off from the rest of the world by a gate that also keeps the people safe from the undead whose bites and scratches will infect them, turning them into more zombies to wreak destruction upon their friends and family.  An organization named the Sisterhood rules over the village, controlling the history, religion, and social mores they learn.  The Sisterhood, however, knows more than they tell.  Everything about the plot seems calculated to provide action, excitement, and suspense.  Except it doesn’t.

Though the page count lies just about 300, The Forest of Hands and Teeth does not read like a full-length novel, but rather the introduction to one.  Very little happens in terms of plot.  As expected, Mary starts to question the values of the Sisterhood and discovers that they sometimes lie.  As expected, (I really don’t consider this a spoiler), she finds her way out of the village.  Not as expected, that’s it.  The rest of the book is all Mary’s longings for the oceans and her love affair (highly physical) with a boy betrothed to another woman.  Not just another woman.  (This is a real spoiler. Highlight after the parentheses to read.) Her best friend.

I think I was supposed to find this forbidden affair not only romantic, but also noble and brave, an attempt to fight back against the village’s strict rules governing the place of everyone in society.  (Men and women are expected to marry to raise families, not because they feel passion for one another.)  Ryan inserts a lot of dialogue about the importance of love versus the expectation of commitment (as if love somehow is opposed to commitment and does not entail it).  She also portrays duty as something ugly and twisted.  The other characters’ dedication to doing what is good for the village rather than what they personally desire (an understandable sentiment in light of their belief that they are the last remnants of humanity about to be overrrun by zombies) makes them seem like zealots devoid of all emotion.  In fact, when people talk about this duty, their personalities even change.  People who seem sweet, caring, and maybe even admirable suddenly turn into psychotic terrors when they talk about duty.  Perhaps Ryan wants to show that constantly denying one’s feelings is unhealthy, but she goes too far.

Despite the heavy-handed messages delivered by the book, however, I was not remotely enchanted by this love affair.  By making out with a man engaged to another woman, Mary was deluding herself, hurting the other woman, and driving a wedge into that couple’s future marriage.  She talks about love, but what she was doing seems a lot like lust.   She is physically attracted to the guy, so they make out.  She later admits that she does not even know much about him–what he likes and dislikes, his hopes and his fears.  She was just using his body to make herself feel better when she felt rejected by the rest of the village.

Mary’s own hopes and dreams are also apparently supposed to make her likable, but they too make her seem selfish.  All she ever does is think about the ocean.  She’s obsessed.  She thinks it exists and she wants to go there, no matter what it costs.  She is willing to leave friends and family behind if she has to.  She is willing to sacrifice them to the Unconsecrated if she has to.  This all seems very unreasonable.  Unlike in other dystopias where the government is hiding something, the Sisterhood so far seems fairly innocuous.  Yes, they have secret rooms and stuff and have not revealed their whole history to the village, but the fact remains that the outside world is actually overrun by zombies who will relentlessly pursue you to feast on your flesh.  The Sisterhood has not lied about that.  So why Mary thinks that the ocean is still a zombie-free paradise that she can skip on over to if she can just get past the fence remains a mystery.

Frankly, I do not understand why this book became a bestseller.  The promises the plot makes about zombies and secrets all fall through.  The romance is not romantic and the protagonist is not likable.  The other characters are likable on occasion, but their personalities tend to change to fit the necessities of the plot.  If I read the second book at all, it will only be to find out if the Sisterhood actually did have some deep, horrible secret and why the zombie apocalypse started in the first place.