The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
The Forest of Hands and Teeth #3
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3 out of 5
Buy the Book: Amazon UK
So, I really, really liked this book, guys! I was a bit wary of this book after the mess that was The Dead-Tossed Waves but I really think The Dark and Hollow Places is (mostly) back on form. There were a few things that mildly annoyed me but overall I enjoyed reading it and as a whole have loved the entire series. Carrie Ryan, teach me how to write like you.
The Dark and Hollow Places picks up where The Dead-Tossed Waves left off; Annah, the protagonist, is Gabrielle’s twin and the mysterious girl Elias was so determined to get home to (lol, for like five minutes anyway). Annah is not at all like her twin, thank the lord Jesus, and for three years has been living alone in The Dark City, an imposing skeleton of what used to be a huge and bustling city before The Return. She’s learned how to survive in a dangerous and frightening environment, and what I kind of love the most about this is how we learn very early on that Annah knows that she can take care of herself. She doesn’t look for anyone to protect her, which I think is admirable but also far more realistic of the kind of world Ryan has created. One of my problems with Gabrielle was that she was
a spoiled little princess way too willing to let everybody else take care of her problems rather than actually doing something useful. Annah also bears the scars from a serious accident and as a result is deeply insecure about herself. She is aware of the double-edged sword her scars have given her – on the one hand, they work almost as a shield to ward off anyone who would otherwise try to hurt her sexually but at the same time Annah feels as though she’s too physically unattractive to ever be the object of someone’s affection. Annah’s insecurities lie at the root of a lot of her issues throughout the novel and I thought the development, from the moment we meet her hiding behind her long hair to the end of the novel when her hair is short and she stands tall and determined, was actually really beautifully done. It wasn’t always comfortable reading about how much Annah hated the way she looked but I do commend the story for never shying away from the darker aspects of her personality.
The final book in the trilogy illustrates the world Annah and the other characters are inhabiting. The Dark City, as we know from the previous books, was a safe haven from the Unconsecrated and one of the last remaining strongholds in the world. However, through a series of events (you had ONE JOB, Gabrielle!!!!), not very far into the novel, the city is overrun with Unconsecrated – seriously, it is scary. Millions of undead descend upon the city, effectively wiping out many of those who had survived for years. Ryan’s writing throughout the series has been exceptionally beautiful but she outdoes herself in writing horror scenes like this. The slow, clawing terror is felt in each word and the description is so vivid that the image of these creatures descending upon the city like a tidal wave is something that isn’t easily shaken off. Annah, along with Catcher and Elias, are able to escape the city but find themselves trapped within the Sanctuary, which historically was the home of politicians, dignitaries and other top officials. Witnessing the horrors that are allowed behind the walls that keep out the Unconsecrated, Annah realises that they must escape or face death.
The novel does drag a little in the middle, since it focuses on developing the relationships between the four main characters, but as the conclusion inches closer the action picks up dramatically. One of the most memorable moments of the novel for me occurs toward the end of the book, in the dark subway tunnels Annah finds herself in. The darkness, fear and all too real danger of the Unconsecrated make this scene incredibly tense and frightening to read. I LOVED it.
I did enjoy the conclusion to the series because I thought it was a really lovely embodiment of the hope for a better life that has been a theme in each book; the balloons rising in the sky above the endless ocean is a beautiful image and after the darkness, both within and the characters and in the physical environment, of this novel it was a really nice note to end on. However, it does require suspension of disbelief because in the back of my mind I did laugh at the idea that these balloons could be erected from whatever the characters could find. That…is not really how hot air balloons work, guys.
I had basically minimal interest in the romance because I suffer from an inability to give a fuck, but for what it’s worth Catcher and Annah did have some very sweet, intimate moments. Their relationship progresses a little too fast to be realistic but other than that I didn’t really have any issues with them, mostly because Catcher felt like a real character in this novel rather than a generic love interest. Elias and Gabrielle still pissed me off but whatever, they were side characters so I chose to ignore them. Annah and Gabrielle’s relationship did feel a bit like a fairytale, in the sense that they immediately become very close, but I found some of their scenes quite endearing all the same. It is a shame she didn’t die though. Bloody Gabrielle.
Overall, I loved this series, and am quite sad that I’ve finished it. Zombies, man. I love them so much.