This is a review I’ve been putting off writing for a little while, mostly because I’m having trouble finding something substantial to say about this book. The Dead-Tossed Waves is the second book in a trilogy. For those who haven’t read the first book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, this trilogy takes place after a zombie infection has broken out. There are two types of zombies: the typical slow-moving, moaning, flesh-eating zombie and another kind called “breakers”; zombies that possess excessive strength and speed.
I had problems with Ryan’s first book, mostly that I found Mary to be cold and selfish and the rest of the characters to be underdeveloped. Thankfully, she has fixed some of these issues in the second book by making Mary’s daughter, Gabrielle the protagonist and giving us a new set of characters. She avoids some of the pitfalls that come with a middle book, mainly the feeling that the story is filler before the final chapter. Ryan builds stronger characters and introduces a new set of issues and also raises more questions about zombies. Do they retain souls? Can they be brought back from zombification? Is it a form of immortality? These were some questions that were explored in an interesting way and the story moved fastest when Ryan was addressing the zombie issues.
Where this story falls flat is with the character drama. Though the characters in this one have become more relatable and sympathetic, it still feels as though Ryan is manufacturing the human drama just for the sake of drama. Ryan is good at the little moments (passages where she describes a first kiss and a panicked dream come to mind), but it feels like she created a big picture story with bullet points and bends her characters to fit that mold, rather than letting the story flow naturally. She is also a big fan of the love triangle formula (present in both books, with two different sets of characters), which I find tiring.
On the whole, this book was better than the first installment and I will still check out the final installment to see how the story plays out, but if you want a really good zombie story, I suggest picking up World War Z.