Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Posted 17 March, 2011 by Danny in / 13 Comments

by Carrie Ryan
Published: March 22, 2011
Links: Indiebound
(order from an Independent Bookstore near YOU!)
Amazon (available as Kindle and Audiobook edition)
ARC provided by Random House
Synopsis from Goodreads

There are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face before Annah left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the Horde as they swarmed the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.
Annah’s world stopped that day, and she’s been waiting for Elias to come home ever since. Somehow, without him, her life doesn’t feel much different than the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Until she meets Catcher, and everything feels alive again.
But Catcher has his own secrets. Dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah has longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah: can she continue to live in a world covered in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?


Pushy: Carrie Ryan doesn’t let her characters live fluffy lives. In her first book, Mary has to fight oppression within her village and then horror without it. The following book brought us Gabry who goes out one night in hopes of a few stolen romantic moments with her crush, Catcher, and watches as her friends are attacked by zombies all around her. Now we meet Annah who is the most damaged of the heroines in this trilogy. Scarred both inside and out, she’s been on her own for years in a world that doesn’t make that easy for a girl. Still, she’s found a way to survive, hardening herself to the misery around her and scraping her way through the endless days since her sole companion, Elias, left her to join the Recruiters. She’s waited for him to come home for three years, waited beyond the reasonable expectation of hope. And when she finally decides to stop waiting and start living, she finds him again. Oh yeah, but that’s when the horde of zombies is coming to destroy one of the last standing cities in the world.

I have often wondered if Ms. Ryan feels as sad as I do for her characters when she writes these books as I do when I read them. Not that the writing isn’t good: it’s fast-paced and action filled, with well turned phrases and pithy descriptions. It’s just that the world she’s constructed for her characters is so sad. It’s such a hopeless place, a place where hope almost seems foolish and yet, again and again, we see it in her books: glimmers of hope, signs that despite the odds, despite the fact that her characters really might fail and die, that hope, and it’s ability to keep a person human in the face of brutal inhumanity, is in and of itself it’s own reward.

And this is why I loved this book. Once again, Ms. Ryan brought me into a cold, cruel world. A world where I shouldn’t care about these people, because they shouldn’t care about each other. And once again, she was able to dig deep into the human condition and show me something beautiful, not just in the world she created but as a reflection of the world we live in. And for that I thank her!

Cutie: Oh my dear Pushy, I completely agree with you! When I first picked up The Forest of Hands and Teeth I just felt flat out depressed and I wondered why I was even bothering reading the book. How could things turn out okay? How could anyone survive in such a cruel world? For Ms. Ryan has no beef when it comes to torturing her characters (be they secondary or main). She let’s the story take the characters where they need to go, the plot twists and turns happening organically and unafraid of the outcome. And I’d have to say this simple fact was the main reason I adore this series so much. At no point did I feel it was manufactured or tailored for a specific outcome. It was real, in your face, heart wrenching, and yet… hopeful.

Annah’s story is simply heart breaking. But one filled with hope, she is a survivor. She is not going to just lie down and die. And once she wakes up and realizes that she has something to live for, she fights back hard and fast to claim her freedom! I couldn’t help but equate her fight for survival to current events that have been taking place in our own present day. I begrudgingly liked Mary for her determination to follow her dreams. I adored Gabry for her hopeful sweetness. But I was completely won over and humbled by Annah’s determination and perseverance in the face of certain death.

Bottom Line

Pushy: Like the other two books in this series, I was in tenterhooks the entire time. Griping, well paced and populated with some fantastic characters, I loved every single word she wrote!

Cutie: One of the best series I’ve ever read. Simply wonderful.

We give it 5 out of 5 books!

Final Notes

Now that The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy is done, one wonders what we can expect next from Carrie Ryan (and if it will be set in such a harsh dystopian world). Rest assured she has written her next novel, and although it’s not part of The Forest of Hands and Teeth world that’s pretty much all we know about it. She actually turned her next novel in at the beginning of February, and it will probably be some time before we learn more about it, but rest assured we’ll be keeping our eyes open for news and be ready to share all with you guys as soon as we hear something.

Now go and get lost…in a book!

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13 Responses to “Review: The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan”

  1. I can't even begin where to tell you how much I love this series. All of her books connect, yet are so different from one another. The plots and emotions are just off the charts! I love this author!! Great review!

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  2. Great review! I'm scared to read this book because as you said, the world they live in is for the most part hopeless. But I need to know what happens so I'll probably read it anyway.

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  3. Darkfallen

    I have been listening to you guys talk about this series for a while. At first you caught my interest, and now you are making me NEED this series!!

    *stairs at bookshelf* wondering if I will hurt their feelings if I bring yet another book without getting to them first. I fear their patients is wearing out.

    Oh how I get distracted my shiney new booky wooks!

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  4. LOL!!!  Now is a perfect time to start this series because this book is the last!  And I love these books (obviously!)  If you read them, stop back by and let us know what you thought!


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  5. cutie

    I completely understand your fear. In fact, these books are so out of the norm for me. I try very hard to keep my life as "hopelessly angst" free as possible. What did I just say?

    But I highly recommend you read this book. I think it will satisfy all, those who enjoy a happy ending and those who want something real. I had to put the book down a few times due to angst overload but in the end my heart was happy. =)

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  6. Great reviews! Especially of the whole series. I haven't read it yet, not sure I want to if it's that depressing. I know you say there's hope, but not sure that's enough for me. Great description of the writer's style of writing and willingness to go there. She sounds like a great writer and you make it tempting. I'll see if my library has it and try the first one because you really make it sound sooooo good. My TBR pile is never going to get smaller!!

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  7. Greta is Erikasbuddy

    Great review!! I just got finished reading it and now can read the review over here

    (I have a fear of spoilers)

    But you guys did a swell job of leaving it spoiler free (I knew you would but you know… I'm a chicken)

    I adored adored adored The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I remember seeing it in Pushy's GR updates and was like "WOAH! Zombies." THen she squeed at me and I couldn't understand why she was squeeing.. then she told me to get the book and I did. I pretty much went into it blind. All I knew was there were zombies. But oh my my my my!! I was hooked after a chapter or two. BLIMEY!! Most awesome!! THAT would have been my Harry Potter as a 14 year old girl!! That would have been my addiction 😉

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  8. Greta is Erikasbuddy

    Part 2

    Waves didn't wow me as much as Teeth. I had a hard time connecting with Gabry. But Annah's story was far more interesting and actually made me see what I was missing in Waves.

    While I loved TEETH more I think DARK totally won second place in the series. And I just loved how they wrapped it up all nice and neat. Well, there's still something more out there but I guess that's for the reader to decide what will happen next. And that's the fun of reading 😉 I don't want everything explained to me lolz. That gives me a headache 😉

    WOW! She's already written another book? I hope its even more gruesome than these!! SHe has a real talent for jaw dropping omg moments. And that's why I uber loves her.

    So thank you Pushy for bringing zombies into my life.

    And woo woo to Cutie for digging the series!

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