The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan is by far my favorite book in the Forest of Hands and Teeth series. And Annah is my favorite of the three heroines. She's the strongest, but also the most damaged.
While Mary and Gabry both grew up in relative safety, Annah has been fighting to survive since she was five years old. Both Mary and Gabry took risks while figuring out what they wanted out of life. (Sometimes these risks made me want to yell at them and say, "No! Just stay put! There are zombies out there! What are you thinking?!!! Ahhh!!!")
Annah, on the other hand, is less reckless but her world is so much more dangerous. Everyday is a struggle to survive. She doesn't need to take stupid risks to decide what she wants, she already knows. She wants to be safe and she wants to be loved. But in a world consumed by death, where even the living have lost their humanity, this might be too much to ask for.
I found The Dark and Hollow Places to be significantly darker and more terrifying than The Forest of Hands and Teeth or The Dead-Tossed Waves. Ryan explores the cruelty of human nature and what we're capable of once order is stripped away--ideas just touched on in the previous two books. At times, I didn't know if I was more scared of the Unconsecrated or the Recruiters.
And boy are there some scary scenes! In real life, I'm totally scared of the dark. Who knew that reading about the dark would make me so terrified? I had to stop and catch my breath a few times, I was gasping and panting while reading, I was so scared. (Note: I'm a wuss)
Don't worry, though, it's not all doom, gloom, and fear. I also think the love story in this book is the best of all three. Unlike with Mary and Gabry's romances, it was clear from the start who Annah belonged with. And there's nothing more satisfying than watching two characters learn to love themselves so they can begin to love each other.
I loaned my copy of the book to a student and when she finished, she told me, "And I'm so glad she fell in love with him because...well...yeah."
"Yeah," I said.
Sometimes sixteen-year-olds say it best.
You will not be disappointed in the conclusion to this amazing series.