The Dead-Tossed Waves, by Carrie Ryan (2010, Delacorte, YA, 402pp), pickes up some years after a young woman named Mary found her way out of The Forest of Hands and Teeth (2009). That book introduced a world over-run by zombies; a world where humanity's chances of survival seem truly bleak, and death by zombie infection is extremely likely.
Mary found a refuge from the zombie plague in a coastal settlement, and there she raised a daughter, Gabrielle, in security and relative peace. One night that peace is shattered when Gabrielle and her friends sneak off for a bit of fun in the old amusement park outside the fence. Because there is no place that is safe from the undead...
In the aftermath of that horrible night, Gabrielle's world changes forever. Figuring out what sort of person she really is, and trying to make sense of her feelings for two different boys, are fairly normal teenage pastimes. But in Gabrielle's world, growing up can also include running for your life straight into a zombie nightmare, with the blood of friends, and enemies, on your hands.
Those who enjoyed The Forest of Hands and Teeth will probably like this one very much as well-it has the same character-focused intensity of the first. There's the same sense that, even though things are happening in the story (mostly attacking, and being attacked, by zombies), the things happening in the main character's head are more important. Gabrielle's thoughts, emotions, and attempts at understanding fill the book, and the use of the first person present underscores the central position she occupies.
This tight focus on Gabrielle might not be to the taste of every reader. When reading such a book, I tend to find myself wondering how I would think and feel in similar circumstances, which resultes in unsuspended disbelief at best, annoyance at worst. This happened to me quite a bit with The Dead-Tossed Waves, because everything that Garbry thought or felt was shared with the reader at length, regardless of various impending dangers. And on top of this I found some of the motivations and actions of the secondary characters hard to fully understand.
I myself would rather have had more of the interesting big picture bits --I felt that the historical/sociological/geopolitical/medical aspects of the story got short shrift, with tantalizing information dumps and not enough deep exploration.
In short, I just don't think I was the right reader for this book (it's been that sort of week). Other reveiws can be found at The Wertzone, The Serpentine Librarian, and Reverie Book Reviews.