I loved the first book and liked the second...so what is in store for this, the third installment of the Forest of Hands and Teeth series? Be warned, if you haven't read any of the books (1, 2, or 3) this review contains mild spoilers. I won't reveal anything major, but a lot of information about the character's relationships is discussed.
Let's start with the plusses (which, yes, means there are some minuses). First of all, I like book 3's narrator, Annah, whose voice is the strongest of Carrie Ryan's three protagonists. Annah is tough, fierce, determined, but also vulnerable. Her life - complex. She is the daughter of Mary (book 1's narrator), sister to Gabry (book 2's narrator), and friend to Elias, (who fell in love with Gabry in book 2). Unlike Mary and Gabry, Annah has learned to take care of herself and lives an isolated life. After she is reunited with Elias and Gabry, Annah struggles to deal with her feelings for them. Annah also meets Catcher, who, like Elias, seems impossible to get close to. And with Annah's mixed feelings for Gabry, Annah struggles to find her place in this strange group, living in a city that now seems to be the last hope for human-kind.
If this sounds too much like a soap opera, well, it kinda is. Which brings me to a minus. There is an element of teenage angst (a criticism I had for the second book), but it IS a young adult book so I guess that's understandable. Another criticism I have (and again I had with book 2) is that there is a lot of running away from the zombies. In books one and two it was through the path in the forest. In book three, it's through city tunnels.
Another big minus for this book, and the series as a whole, is that Ryan completely drops Mary from book three. There is maybe one sentence about how she went to another city and that's it. What about all the build up from book 2 about the pages that Gabry risked herself to save? What about the mystery surrounding the origin of The Return and Mary's little village? I was REALLY disappointed by this HUGE omission.
But, in the form of any good compliment sandwich, I will end on a good note. Ryan's concept of The Sanctuary is perplexing and disturbing. The zombies have breached The Dark City and Annah, Elias, Gabry, and Catcher have made passage to what now seems to be the last hope for humanity. But Annah quickly learns that life without zombies isn't necessarily a life worth living. And the brand of hope The Sanctuary provides isn't necessarily her idea of humanity at its best.
It's these contradictions that make this book good, but you have to dig through some fluff to get there.