The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth Series #3) [NOOK Book]

Overview

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, ...
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The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth Series #3)

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Overview

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?


From the Hardcover edition.
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  • The Dark and Hollow Places
    The Dark and Hollow Places  

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—What would you do if you knew you only had a few days left to live? This question haunts Annah nearly as much as the ever-present Unconsecrated (zombies) that thirst for human blood in this, the final chapter in Ryan's thriller/romance trilogy. Every day in the Dark City is a struggle for survival, but when a series of mishaps unites Annah with the mysterious Catcher, she wonders if she has finally found a reason to live in a world overwhelmed by death. The well-paced story churns along, fueled by an overpowering sense of dread and Annah's immediate narrative voice. Though unafraid to go into gory detail, Ryan skillfully balances the gross-out bits with romance and beautifully written passages highlighting hope amid chaos and despair. The easily identifiable characters are developed well; even some of the zombies are shown in three dimensions. Some readers may grow tired of Annah's rather repetitive (and often annoying) self-reflection, but the romantic entanglements and plentiful flesh-eating action should keep the teeming hordes of zombie fans sated.—Sam Bloom, Groesbeck Branch Library, Cincinnati, OH
VOYA - Grace Enriquez
Alone in deteriorating, postapocalyptic Dark City, Annah scrapes by each day searching for food and supplies and eluding the Unconsecrated, the zombie-like creatures who crave human blood and continuously threaten to overtake the city. She has also hardened herself against anything that could make her feel human again, especially since Elias abandoned her three years ago to join the Recruiters, the corrupt army that claims to protect remaining cities. Then, just as the city succumbs to the sheer multitude of Unconsecrated, Annah meets Catcher, who reminds her what it means to live and awakens emotions she thought she had buried. And when Catcher reunites her with Elias and her long-lost sister, Gabry, Annah must let down her guard if any of them are to survive. Ryan once again mesmerizes readers in her third novel in the Forest of Hands and Teeth series. Newcomers to this series will not feel disadvantaged, as Ryan smoothly weaves background context and story lines from the previous novels into the narration. The plot is rich with the suspense of horror and the action and introspection of postapocalyptic genres. While some characters seem flat, Annah conveys believable pluck and determination that will keep readers rooting for her success, unlike the strong-willed female protagonists of other recent young adult series. Overall, the pervasive threat of the Unconsecrated, the brutality of the Recruiters, and the remarkable bleakness of the setting are the novel's most compelling elements, sure to keep readers consumed in the book's pages. Reviewer: Grace Enriquez
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375895593
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Series: Forest of Hands and Teeth Series , #3
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 64,895
  • Age range: 14 years
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Carrie Ryan

   CARRIE RYAN is the New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy that includes The Forest of Hands and Teeth, The Dead-Tossed Waves, The Dark and Hollow Places, and the original ebook Hare Moon. She has edited the short story anthology Foretold: 14 Stories of Prophecy and Prediction and contributed to many other story collections herself, including Zombies vs. Unicorns, Kiss Me Deadly, and Enthralled. Her work has been translated into over eighteen languages and her first novel is in production as a major motion picture. Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. Visit her at CarrieRyan.com.




From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

I

This city used to be something once. I’ve seen pictures of the way it gleamed—sun so bright off windows it could burn your eyes. At night, lights shouted from steel like catcalls, loud and lewd, while all day long white-gloved men rushed to open doors for women who tottered about on skyscraper heels.
 
I wonder sometimes what happened to those women when the Return hit—how they were able to run and survive with such absurd contraptions strapped to their feet. How different the world must have been before—safe and comfortable.
 
The City’s nothing like that anymore. Now, bare beams scrape the sky like splintered finger bones. Half the high-rises have fallen, and scavengers pilfered the intricately scrolled ironwork long ago. There’s not much of anything left anymore, just the fear that seeps fog-like through the streets.
 
Fear of the Recruiters. Fear of the Unconsecrated. Fear of tomorrow.
 
Even so, this city’s been my home. Other than the village I lived in as a child, this is the only world I’ve known. It’s sharp-cornered and raw but it’s a refuge for those with a burn to survive. You pay your rents, you follow the rules and you do what it takes to keep living.
 
Which is why I find myself on the Neverlands side of the Palisade wall that cordons off and protects the Dark City as the last dregs of evening slide across the sky. This is the place where Elias would go when he was desperate for money, desperate to trade so we could pay our rent and stay in our tiny flat for another year. It’s the place where anything can be found for the right trade, and where, after the blade of my only knife broke this afternoon, I’ve come for help.
 
Clutching the replacement blade tightly, I’ve started to cross over one of the bridges strung between two buildings when I hear a deep rumbling cough. It’s approaching dusk and storm clouds hover over the river, causing the light to drip a dull green. I shuffle faster toward the next roof, determined to get back to my flat in the Dark City before full night, but as soon as my foot lands on the rickety bridge connecting the buildings a voice calls out, “Wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
 
I freeze, the frayed rope railing in one hand. I’ve been alone long enough to have learned to look out for myself, yet something about the warning makes me hesitate. Just as I start to take another step the voice says, “Look down,” and I do.
 
The alley a dozen stories below is dim and choked in shadows, but even so I see something moving. A moan floats up, echoing softly between the buildings as it rises. The sun breaks through a narrow gap in the clouds and the light reflects down the alley, glinting briefly off what looks like eyes and a row of cracked teeth.
 
As my gaze adjusts I can make out dozens of clawing fingers reaching for me amid a pile of broken bodies that should have died from their fall but didn’t. Or maybe they did die and infection’s brought them back as plague rats. I shiver, disgust rolling through me.
 
Carefully, I inch back onto the roof, noticing how the wooden boards I was just about to walk onto are rotten. One step more and I’d have been down on that heap as well.
 
“You’re the first one to listen to me and not take a dive,” the voice says, and I spin, pulling my new knife between us. A woman sits tucked between two crumbling stone chimneys. In her hand she clutches a charred wooden pipe that feebly chokes out smoke.
 
I glance around the roof, expecting some sort of trap. The woman gestures toward my knife. “Don’t bother,” she says. “Just me up here.”
 
She puts the pipe back in her mouth, the end of it burning a bright red, and in that instant I get a clear look at her face: thick dark lines painted around eyes smudged by tears or sweat or both. Then the ember fades, pulling her back into shadow.
 
But not before I see the raw circle around her wrist, festering with infection. The flesh edging the wound puffs and oozes, and I recognize it as a bite. I pull my knife back up between us, refusing to let it shake.
 
I’m usually pretty good at avoiding any confrontation with the Unconsecrated. No matter how careful you are, there’s always the risk that something will go wrong and they’ll get their teeth into you one way or another.
 
The woman shrugs and inhales. The light makes her skin glow again and I watch how her hand trembles. Cracks etch through the powder she used to make her old skin appear blushing and fresh—it looks like a fractured mirror instead.
 
I think of my own face, the scars overlaying the left side of my body like a thick spider web. Her cracks can be washed away. Mine can’t.
 
It’s easy to see that she’s close to the end—when the infection will kill her. I glance down again at the pile of bodies below, their feeble moans filtering into the night. She’ll be one of them soon. If she’s lucky someone will take care of her before she turns. If she isn’t…
 
I swallow.
 
With a sickening heaviness in my stomach I realize I’m the one who’s going to have to kill her. It makes me feel off balance and I take a few steps away from the edge of the building, suddenly unsettled by such height.
 
The last of the evening light slides down my body, a final brush of heat, before disappearing for what will be yet another night of forever. The woman’s eyes aren’t on my knife; instead they focus on my face.
 
She inhales but her chest barely moves. She considers me a moment, staring at my scars. “There are men who like ’em like you—messed up,” she says, nodding. Her gaze slips past me back down the island toward the ruins of the bigger buildings of the Dark City in the distance.
 
No they don’t, I think.
 
She exhales a wavering line of smoke. “But more ’n likely, they’re the ones that want to do the messing.” She pushes a thumb into the corner of her mouth, as if tidying up a lip stain that she’s no longer wearing, the gesture a habit of so many years that’s become useless.
 
I should say something. I should be comforting or consoling or helpful. This woman’s infected and she’s facing the final moments of her life and I realize how utterly useless I am faced with the enormity of what’s going on. Instead I clear my throat. How in the world would I know what could give this woman comfort?
 

From the Hardcover edition.

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First Chapter

This city used to be something once. I've seen pictures of the way it gleamed—sun so bright off windows it could burn your eyes. At night, lights shouted from steel like catcalls, loud and lewd, while all day long white- gloved men rushed to open doors for women who tottered about on skyscraper heels.

I wonder sometimes what happened to those women when the Return hit—how they were able to run and survive with such absurd contraptions strapped to their feet. How different the world must have been before—safe and comfortable. The City's nothing like that anymore. Now, bare beams scrape the sky like splintered finger bones. Half the high- rises have fallen, and scavengers pilfered the intricately scrolled ironwork long ago. There's not much of anything left anymore, just the fear that seeps foglike through the streets. Fear of the Recruiters. Fear of the Unconsecrated. Fear of tomorrow.

Even so, this city's been my home. Other than the village I lived in as a child, this is the only world I've known. It's sharpcornered and raw but it's a refuge for those with a burn to survive. You pay your rents, you follow the rules and you do what it takes to keep living.

Which is why I find myself on the Neverlands side of the Palisade wall that cordons off and protects the Dark City as the last dregs of evening slide across the sky. This is the place where Elias would go when he was desperate for money, desperate to trade so we could pay our rent and stay in our tiny flat for another year. It's the place where anything can be found for the right trade, and where, after the blade of my only knife broke this afternoon, I've come for help. Clutching the replacement blade tightly, I've started to cross over one of the bridges strung between two buildings when I hear a deep rumbling cough. It's approaching dusk and storm clouds hover over the river, causing the light to drip a dull green. I shuffle faster toward the next roof, determined to get back to my flat in the Dark City before full night, but as soon as my foot lands on the rickety bridge connecting the buildings a voice calls out, "Wouldn't do that if I were you." I freeze, the frayed rope railing in one hand. I've been alone long enough to have learned to look out for myself, yet something about the warning makes me hesitate. Just as I start to take another step the voice says, "Look down," and I do. The alley a dozen stories below is dim and choked in shadows, but even so I see something moving. A moan floats up, echoing softly between the buildings as it rises. The sun breaks through a narrow gap in the clouds and the light reflects down the alley, glinting briefly off what looks like eyes and a row of cracked teeth.

As my gaze adjusts I can make out dozens of clawing fingers reaching for me amid a pile of broken bodies that should have died from their fall but didn't. Or maybe they did die and infection's brought them back as plague rats. I shiver, disgust rolling through me.

Carefully, I inch back onto the roof, noticing how the wooden boards I was just about to walk onto are rotten. One step more and I'd have been down on that heap as well. "You're the first one to listen to me and not take a dive," the voice says, and I spin, pulling my new knife between us. A woman sits tucked between two crumbling stone chimneys. In her hand she clutches a charred wooden pipe that feebly chokes out smoke.

I glance around the roof, expecting some sort of trap. The woman gestures toward my knife. "Don't bother," she says. "Just me up here."

She puts the pipe back in her mouth, the end of it burning a bright red, and in that instant I get a clear look at her face: thick dark lines painted around eyes smudged by tears or sweat or both. Then the ember fades, pulling her back into shadow.

But not before I see the raw circle around her wrist, festering with infection. The flesh edging the wound puffs and oozes, and I recognize it as a bite. I pull my knife back up between us, refusing to let it shake.

I'm usually pretty good at avoiding any confrontation with the Unconsecrated. No matter how careful you are, there's always the risk that something will go wrong and they'll get their teeth into you one way or another. The woman shrugs and inhales. The light makes her skin glow again and I watch how her hand trembles. Cracks etch through the powder she used to make her old skin appear blushing and fresh—it looks like a fractured mirror instead. I think of my own face, the scars overlaying the left side of my body like a thick spiderweb. Her cracks can be washed away. Mine can't.

It's easy to see that she's close to the end—when the infection will kill her. I glance down again at the pile of bodies below, their feeble moans filtering into the night. She'll be one of them soon. If she's lucky someone will take care of her before she turns. If she isn't . . .

I swallow.

With a sickening heaviness in my stomach I realize I'm the one who's going to have to kill her. It makes me feel off balance and I take a few steps away from the edge of the building, suddenly unsettled by such height.

The last of the evening light slides down my body, a final brush of heat, before disappearing for what will be yet another night of forever. The woman's eyes aren't on my knife; instead they focus on my face.

She inhales but her chest barely moves. She considers me a moment, staring at my scars. "There are men who like 'em like you—messed up," she says, nodding. Her gaze slips past me back down the island toward the ruins of the bigger buildings of the Dark City in the distance.

No they don't, I think.

She exhales a wavering line of smoke. "But more 'n likely, they're the ones that want to do the messing." She pushes a thumb into the corner of her mouth, as if tidying up a lip stain that she's no longer wearing, the gesture a habit of so many years that's become useless.

I should say something. I should be comforting or consoling or helpful. This woman's infected and she's facing the final moments of her life and I realize how utterly useless I am faced with the enormity of what's going on. Instead I clear my throat. How in the world would I know what could give this woman comfort?

I look back across the roof where I came from. It would be easy for me to just retrace my steps—leave her for someone else to deal with. But that seems unnecessarily cruel. After all, I'm alone on this island like she is. Maybe if I were in her position, I'd want someone to listen to me at the end.

She picks at the edges of the bite, pressing against the angry red infection lines streaking up her arm. "You got a man?" she asks. "You in love?" She sounds nervous, like she's uncomfortable. Like she understands what I'm going to do and she's just extending time a bit.

Her interest takes me aback. I try to say yes and no at the same time and instead it just comes out as a grunt. "I have a . . ." I stumble over the word, then mouth "brother." It's the lie Elias and I have told everyone to make our living together in the Dark City simpler. We've said it so long it feels like truth. "He joined the Recruiters," I say instead.

"When?" Her eyebrows pinch together.

The question has weight to it—if he joined up before the Rebellion it means he wanted to change the world into something better. If he joined up after it means he's a masochist who gets high on the power of controlling people with no hope. "Three years ago." I've rarely had to say it out loud. Had to acknowledge how long he's been gone. Before, I could just go from day to day: tomorrow to tomorrow to tomorrow without having to bundle them all together in heaps to represent weeks and months and years.

The woman laughs, her wet mouth open and lip curled in where she's missing a few teeth on the left side. She doesn't even have to say how absurd the hope in my voice sounds. We both know the survival rates of the Recruiters before the Rebellion: one in seven. Only that one ever makes it home after his two- year term is up, and Elias should have been back a long time ago.

Anger darts through me. Maybe that's what she wants. To make it easy for me to thrust the knife into her chest. Make me want to feel the jolt of the blade grazing over her ribs and the squelching heat of her blood. I take a step toward her, narrowing my eyes. She's as good as Unconsecrated, and I've put them away before.

She just slips the stem of the pipe through the gap in her teeth and inhales, burning a red glow between us. "Oh, honey," she finally says, but it's not judgment I hear, it's pity. It unsettles me, and I turn to the side so she can't see the expression on my face. Even so, her gaze traces over my scars again, one by one. She tilts her head as if trying to piece them together in some sort of pattern.

"Oh, honey," she says again, and I know it's for the misery of this moment. "You been waiting for him all this time?" The concern in her voice sounds like the way a mother would talk to a daughter, and this opens up a fresh ache inside me. I nod.

"The City's dying," she says. Her voice is calm and gentle. Soothing. "You should leave. Find a new life." She drags the thin strap of her shirt up over her shoulder but it just slides down her arm again.

I shrug. "This is my home," I tell her. I know I sound defensive.

There's silence between us for a bit. Not real silence—that doesn't exist—but as quiet as it gets in the Neverlands with the moans drifting from the alley and the sound of someone yelling the next block over.

"I had a man once that I stuck around for," the woman says. She pokes a toe through the tip of her worn shoes and I wait for her to tell me more, but instead she just contemplates her foot awhile and then shrugs.

"Some men have a strange idea of what love is." She pushes a strand of greasy hair back behind her ear and I see bruises dotting her neck.

What she doesn't understand about me and Elias is that I promised him I'd wait for him to come back, and leaving would mean he's dead. I know there's nothing else that could keep him from coming home to me. The evening he left he said he'd find me again, and I believe him.

But a dark thought seeps into my mind, one that's been curling around the edges of my consciousness for months: Elias left my sister alone in the Forest of Hands and Teeth when we were kids. Why would I ever think that he wouldn't leave me?

The woman stands and I whirl to face her, pulling the knife back between us, ready to end it. She doesn't come closer or threaten me in any way. She just flips her pipe over and knocks it against one of the chimneys, spirals of embers twirling and fading around her legs and feet.

"Did you ever think about what you really wanted your life to be like? Like when you were a little girl?" She moves toward the edge of the roof. The darkness seems to stretch forever.

I think about the village where I was born. Where I had a sister and a father and a community of people who loved and took care of me. That. That's what I want my life to be like. Not this city. Not these scars. Not this loneliness. I remember the moment in the Forest when my sister fell and scratched her knee and how bright the blood looked. How desperately the dead clawed at the fences while Elias and I walked away from her. But I tell this woman none of those things. Instead I shake my head. "No."

Her face falls a little as if she was expecting a different answer. "Ever wonder what you'd do if you knew you were going to die?"

"We're all going to die eventually," I tell her.
She smiles, more like a wince. "I mean if you knew when," she clarifies. "If you only had a few days." She inhales, sharp, and adds, "A few moments."

I shake my head. It's a lie, but I don't want this woman to know me any better than she already does. Being here for her death—that's already more intimacy than I've shared with anyone in years. I don't want to like this woman—I don't want to care about her—because then this moment and the one that's coming next will hurt too much.

I refuse to have feelings about someone when I know they're going to leave me. I feel sorry that I can't offer this woman something different, but I have to protect myself more than I have to protect her.

Her eyes begin to glisten and her shoulders shift as she pretends to laugh. "Oh well," she says, waving her dirty pipe in the air as if it could clear it all away. "Oh well," she says again, barely a whisper.

She begins to shake. I've seen it before, the infection taking a firmer grasp, burrowing in deep for the kill. Any moment she'll collapse, her body giving out and dying. And then she'll Return, clawing for my flesh.

I move toward her, knife tight in my hand, but she jerks her head, waves me away with a fling of her arm. She's standing on the ledge of the roof. Below us the plague rats moan. "I just . . . ," she says, raising a hand to her head, patting her hair into place. She presses her lips together, her nostrils quivering as she takes a deep breath. "I just wanted someone to remember," she says then. "I just wanted to be beautiful to someone, just for a little while."

And before I can ask "Remember what?" or "Remember who?" she tips forward and jumps. The rushing air pulls her hair from her face, and her body twists like a ribbon caught in a breeze for a moment before she tumbles into the darkness. She doesn't even scream.

I don't have to run toward the ledge to know what happened to her. I hear the thump of her body hitting the concrete below. The sound of bones breaking, of her skull shattering.

I drop the knife and press my face into my hands, dig my fingers against my forehead, as if that will hold me together. I shouldn't have been the person here at her death. I don't even know the woman's name or who to tell that she's gone. And suddenly I realize just how much her situation echoes my own. How no one would know or care if the same thing happened to me. How unlikely it is that any of the few neighbors remaining in my corner of the Dark City could even recall my name, much less notice if I went missing one day. I've never felt so alone in my life. Sure, I've spent the last three years on my own but I've always focused on surviving and waiting for Elias. This woman's done something to me, though. She's made me recognize a kind of gap inside, and now I don't know if I'll ever figure out how to close or fill it. Finally, I raise my head and notice a bundle left in the nook between the two chimneys where the woman was sitting. Numbly, I pick it up. It feels wrong to sift through the contents, but that doesn't stop me.

Her few possessions amount to not much more than halfempty cases of colored powders and stains. Makeup that could never come close to hiding her age or the desperation seeped into every line on her face.

I trace my fingers through a vermillion red, something about the tone of it calling to me. Then, tentatively, I press my hand against the chimney next to where the woman sat, tracing a red slash across the smoke-blackened bricks. Digging through the pots, I find a blue that I smudge over the red and then black around the blue. Eyes, lips, hair, chin: Bit by bit I create a portrait of the woman. Not the way she was at the end, crouched in the shadows, but how she looked falling, with her wide smile and the knowledge that her misery was ended.

Plague rats moan in the alley, and from a window below me I hear men laugh and women joke. The air's thick with the smell of their sweat and need as they find solace together while I hunker in the night drawing the woman. I make her beautiful, make her flying through the air as if gravity would never dare to sully her with its grasp. It's a rush. I feel like I'm reclaiming the control the woman stole from me. And when it's over and I step back I realize that at some point I stopped painting the stranger and started painting myself. But not how I am now, not scarred, with ? 10 ? stringy blond hair that tangles in front of my face. How I could have been if I'd never left my sister in the Forest that day.

The woman asked me what I wanted in my life if it could be anything. I haven't given any thought to what I want in a long time, outside of longing for Elias to come back. When we first arrived in the Dark City I'd have said I wanted to go home to my village in the Forest but somewhere along the way I've forgotten that. I've let the day- to- day existence of life blind me to dreams.

Just like this city, I used to be something once. I used to be a girl who liked to get out of bed every morning and who understood passion. Yet for the past three years—longer than that, even—I've been frozen, incapable of accepting that life around me has shifted without my consent. Exhausted and lost in thought, I push away from the wall and start making my way back to my flat, needing the familiar surroundings to remind me why I'm still here.
Why I've allowed myself to stay stuck waiting.
The darkness of the night settles heavy on my shoulders as I retreat toward the Dark City. I scamper over bridges and wade through the line of people waiting to cross the Palisade wall into the City proper. I feel invisible, everyone around me wrapped up in their own problems, not caring about an anonymous girl with her gaze trained on the ground. I scramble past the debris pile of what used to be a wing of the building housing our flat and climb down the fire escape, slipping through the window into the emptiness of my home. Bare walls, scarred floor, dust coating everything. Nothing personal except for the quilt twisted at the bottom of the bed, where it landed after I kicked it off this morning. I wrap it around myself, burying my face in the tattered cloth that was once bright. That once held his smell. Usually sleep comes fast and easy. Usually I want nothing more than to be yanked into the featureless dreams, but not tonight.

Tonight I think of the woman. The stars spin outside, chasing dawn across the sky, and sleep never comes. Only the cold emptiness of the flat.

No other heartbeat to keep me company. No voice to keep away the blackness of night. Nobody to share the length of days with.

And I realize that I've been spending too long trying to forget that I've lost the part of myself that used to belong to someone else. That I once held my sister's hand and sat on my father's lap and knew my neighbors' names. I've filled that place with an emptiness, and the woman tonight made me see that that hole inside me is from Elias and that I've waited for him to come home long enough. He's gone. And I'm alone. Crouching here in my empty flat, listening to the moaning of the City dying around me, I remember what I want. I want to find my way back home, to my sister and my family and my village in the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

There are only two ways off the island: boat or bridge. The boat docks sit on the southeast side, deep in the protected range of the Dark City. A series of gates and fences blocks the City from the docks, and Recruiters patrol with dogs that can smell infection to ensure that no vessels carry it into the City.

The few boats remaining after people fled during the Recruiter Rebellion are fiercely guarded, and I know it would be almost impossible for me to book passage on one. Which means that if I'm going to really do this—leave—I'll have to travel by foot like everyone else who wants to get off the island. And the only bridges in and out are far north in the Neverlands.

I start my journey in the late morning after a sleepless night standing on the roof of my empty building waiting for dawn. I stared at the few remaining lights flickering in the skyscrapers along the bottom edge of the island and tried to find the strength to leave it behind. Elias fought so hard for our flat in the Dark City, scraping together the exorbitant rent just for the promise of safety, and I feel wrong abandoning it. What if he comes home tomorrow and I'm not here? What if he's just over the edge of the horizon, dreaming of me, fighting his way back to me? But then I remember that woman. Her falling through the air. If I only had a few days left to live would I spend them like her, huddled on a roof, waiting for a stranger to stumble upon me? And the answer is no. By the time I arrive at the Palisade wall it's early afternoon. No one challenges me as I make my way through the series of gates separating the Dark City from the Neverlands. It's only those coming the opposite direction—those trying to gain access into the Dark City—they care about. People leave every day.

The journey through the Neverlands is uneventful as I stick to the well- traveled avenues, keeping safe in the crush of people scurrying about. Streets of broken buildings spread out around me, dark alleys with sinister promises that I walk past gripping my knife tightly, promising a fight if anyone tries to mess with me.

There's already a line at the bridge when I arrive in the late afternoon, the process of leaving the island a slow and sometimes arduous one. No one meets my eyes. No one glances at me or cares, even when they brush past to shove their way forward, knocking against me as if I'm invisible. It's easiest when I keep my hair pulled over my face, my head tilted forward as if I'm examining the ground. My scars make me stand out—they mark me as a distinct individual, and I've learned well enough that it's better to stay inconspicuous, especially since the Rebellion. The Recruiters like to make examples of people, and their methods have grown crueler and harsher day by day. It used to be their cruelty was a form of keeping order, but now with the Protectorate no longer around to hold them in check, it seems more like some sort of sick pleasure.

I've heard rumors of Recruiters enslaving women who catch their eye and taking anything that isn't theirs. There have been even worse murmurings: black- market dealings in the dead, people disappearing, heads staked throughout the City as proof of Recruiter power. Things I choose not to contemplate but that have convinced me to avoid causing trouble as much as possible. Around me people shuffle anxiously. Some of them carry bags and one or two push a cart piled with crates. Those are the ones I try to stay away from—they'll only attract attention from the Recruiters interested in looting, and there's no one to stop them.

The main bridge spanning the river between the Neverlands and the mainland is cut into sections by thick metal walls, each with two doors: one for those leaving the island and one for those entering. Running along the center of the bridge is a metal fence separating the coming from the going. A bell rings, the doors slide open and people pool from one lock into the next, and then the doors close and we wait, trapped in a pen until the bell signals again. People push past me, elbows digging into my arms and back. I'm wearing most of the clothes I own: thick trousers under a skirt, three shirts layered over one another and a worn coat hanging down to my thighs. A small pack holding my old quilt rests against my lower back, and I've tucked my knife against my hip. I was afraid anything else I packed might be taken. The layers of clothing make my skin slick with sweat as the sun beats down, the day unseasonably warm for winter. The door to the next airlock slides open and a man steps in front of me as I start walking through. He knocks me back and just as I catch myself from falling, palms flat against the steel wall, I see her through the metal dividing fence, walking toward the island.

Or rather, I see me.

The crowd grumbles as I hesitate in the entrance, trying to catch another glimpse of the girl. Eventually someone shoves me hard in the back, but I refuse to budge, bracing my hands against the door. My eyes skim every face, wondering if I was mistaken, but then I see her again just on the other side of the fence, entering the space I'm leaving. Her hair's long and blond, almost burned white by the sun.

She walks with her chin tilted up as if she's never had to worry about anything. As if she has no sense of the danger her clean, healthy looks invite. No one shoves or trips her, she just glides along as if expecting the world to make room. Her eyes slide over the crowd, skipping right over me as if I don't exist.

Of course, that's why I keep my face hidden in my hair. It's why I hunch my shoulders and wear drab colors. I'm supposed to be invisible. It's who I am.

But not to her. Never to her. She should be able to find me in the deepest darkness. She should feel me there in the crowd the same way I feel her.

She's my sister. Her face as familiar to me as my own because it is my own. My chest tightens and I have a hard time gulping enough air. I'm dizzy, gripping the doorframe to steady myself, and the person behind me uses the opportunity to force me through.

I turn against the crowd, trying to wrestle my way back, but they're insistent and overwhelming. They push forward, flowing through the door in an unending stream as I struggle. Nothing feels right about this moment. I fight for another look at the girl, knowing I must be mistaken. Even so, a prickle of hope starts to swell inside.

I want to scream—to draw attention to myself—but the warning bell rings and the crowd surges forward and then the doors groan shut and the girl I saw is gone.

I stand frozen, trying to understand what just happened. Trying to breathe. Trying to put the pieces together in my head. Even from such a quick glimpse I could tell that she had my face. My nose. My green eyes. She even had my wrists and chin and ears and neck and hair, if I spent time outside in the sun.

She had everything but my scars.

None of this makes sense—can't make sense—but I don't care because I desperately want it. For years I've replayed the moment Elias and I left Abigail, my twin sister, behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth. I see her trip, see the blood trickling down her leg, catching in the downy hairs of her fiveyear- old shin. I remember the hesitation I felt, the intense desire to keep exploring mingled with rage that my sister was crying and fear that she wouldn't go on any more. I remember walking away from her. We thought we'd just go a little farther, just around the corner. We never saw her again. We got lost, couldn't find our way back and ended up here.

Over the years I've dreamed of her a dozen different ways but I've only known one truth: that I left my sister crying and terrified in the middle of a path in the Forest because I was being selfish.

I left my sister once and I can't do it again. I can't give up this chance that she's real and safe and within my grasp. I fight my way back to the door, start banging against it, but a Recruiter grabs my hands and twists my wrists painfully, his fingers digging into my skin. "Wrong way," he says, pushing me back to the crowd waiting at the other end of the holding area, waiting for the bell to sound and the door to open so they can move forward on their journey across the bridge to the mainland.

"I have to go back," I tell him, trying to rip my arms free. "Not the rules." He narrows his eyes, causing wrinkles to spread around his cheeks. His shirt's dirty and reeks of smoke and overly ripe perfume. "Unless you have something to trade for it." He tugs me a little closer until I have to look up at him, my hair falling back from my face.

He takes in my scars, his lips pressing thin. He drops my wrists.

I hear the bells ring down the bridge, hear the doors sliding open and know that she's getting farther away from me.

"You have to let me go," I shout at him.

"Get to the end and then you can come back. This side is one way only—off the island," he says. He can't help but stare at my scars, a look of disgust in his eyes. "Either way, keep moving forward. That's the rule."

I see the door begin to grind open behind him, the creak of old gears and rusty metal separating me from my sister. He pushes me away from it, away from her. Away from the Neverlands and farther out over the river toward the mainland.

People flood in around me and press tight, making it hard to breathe. They crowd against me, just wanting to get to the other side, and I'm causing trouble and getting in the way. I'm drawing attention and attention isn't good. But I refuse to give up. Already she's out of my sight. Already I may never find her again. The Recruiter must see the resolve in my eyes the moment before I move, because his muscles tense, ready for me. I'm just about to lunge at him, just about to fight my way through the door, when we both hear the fierce growling and barking of dogs and then the explosion of the alarm blaring over the bridge.

Every door rolls shut, the heavy metal pinning one poor woman's fingers against the jamb, causing her to howl in pain. The Recruiter forgets about me and leaps for a rope ladder, climbing to one of the lookout posts at the top of each wall. All around me people press against the side of the bridge, trying to see what caused the commotion, shouting at each other in confusion. I elbow my way through them, keeping low until I can shove my head through the gaps in the railing. The sound of dogs barking, their growls deep and ferocious, underscores the wailing siren piercing my ears. It's almost impossible to figure out what's going on, but there's clearly chaos at the checkpoint on the island end of the bridge. A few Recruiters gesture wildly and I watch as they push a young man to his knees against the metal wall circling the shore of the island. Dogs lurch at him, their backs spiked with rage.

He pulls something from his pocket—some sort of disk that looks like one of the old Recruiter IDs—and holds it out to them. One of the men snatches it and frowns, disappearing into the guardhouse as the young man kneels, his hands held up as if trying to entreat the guards who pull knives from their belts. The dogs smell the infection—they won't allow him onto the island. He's too dangerous.

The siren eats away at the air, cutting off everything except the sound of the woman still screaming as they try to pry her fingers from the steel door. Everyone around me jostles, all of us straining to see what will happen next.

A large man, his Recruiter uniform crisp and clean with a red sash across his chest, storms out of the guardhouse, towering over the young man. The Recruiter's mouth moves but none of us can hear what he says and the young man keeps shaking his head, his hands raised palms- out.

Just then a blur bolts from the crowd at the edge of the bridge. It's my sister. She's running at the large Recruiter, tangling her arms around his neck. He twists, batting her away, but in the split second of distraction the young man lunges to his feet and throws himself against the metal wall, feet scrabbling as he clambers to the top and slides down the other side along the river.

Chaos erupts, Recruiters running to climb after the young man as others on the bridge take aim with their crossbows. Around me people scream and lunge out of the way but I stay kneeling, watching the young man scrabble along the shore while bolts pepper the ground around him.

"Got him!" one of the Recruiters shouts. The young man stumbles, a bright red streak of blood along his arm where a bolt clipped him. He loses his balance and starts to slip toward the river running under the bridge. And with a splash, he's gone.

Everyone around me holds a collective breath as they wait for his body to break back up to the surface. Except me. I'm staring at the girl—at my sister—the one who is me. Abigail. She's crouching where the young man knelt just before he ran. Thin lines of blood well along her arm where her sleeve was torn in the scuffle, and she holds her fists to her temples. One of the dogs thrusts his nose against her elbow and she leans on him as if she has no idea what to do next.

Two of the Recruiters slap hands as they walk past her and she raises her head. They must tell her what happened as they haul her to her feet, because she opens her mouth, and even with the havoc flaring around me I can hear her screaming in rage. It reverberates inside my head as if it were my voice and my throat and my pain.

I will her to look at me. To turn her head and glance my way. I beg her with my mind to see me. To know I'm here. But she doesn't move. Her gaze never wavers from the towering metal wall where the young man just stood. Below me the ripples on the river die out to a calm smooth glass. The man never comes to the surface.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 222 )
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(148)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 223 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A must read!

    This is one heck of a series. If anything it just keeps better and better. This is a continuation from the second book in Annah's point of view. And I admit, it was one good POV. Annah is waiting. Waiting for Elias to come back to her. It's been year and he is still not there. She is determined to get back to her sister and begins looking for her. What Annah finds is not what she expected.

    Let me tell you that Ms. Ryan did a great job describing the emotions off Annah. If one thing I enjoy in a book is being able to feel the characters as if my own. I like to read the story and walk in their feet. I felt Annah hearts in my hand. Annah is a strong girl and knows her place. She believes herself to be ugly and keeps all the guilt and hurt inside.

    The reunion was...well mind blowing. Ms. Ryan did an excellent job describing and detailing everything. The hurt, the pain, the betrayal and most of the all, the jealousy. Even I was jealous at what I was reading! Ms. Ryan had a way of writing her characters to life. They felt so real, I felt them.

    Catcher is a guy who is also broken like Annah. I knew they had a instant connection it was just a matter of time of which would fall first. Catcher held Annah and gave her strength. They have both been hurt the same ways. They had a bond and shared the same pain. I am happy that they were able to confide in each other.

    Overall this book is just AMAZING! Simply amazing and beautiful. I can't even began to describe how much this book is a page turner. A magical page turner that will turn your life upside down.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    Great read

    My friend picked up the forest of hands and teeth and told me it was the best zombie apocalypse novel ever. I agreed. What i like most about this series is how every relationship is intertwined....its amazing...
    I thought it was interesting when a cheerleader (out of everybody i know) picked this book up and read it. Read. Its awesome. You HAVE to start with the first book first to understand everything.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    The best

    Out of all the books in the series i liked this one the best. The forest of hands and teeth was kinda annoying with marys fixation on the ocean and the deadtossed waves was a little funky with the elias thing but this was the most beautiful. Even if you dont read the others i think you should read this one

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I don't want this to be the end!

    Annah and Catcher vs. Elias and Gabry. I didn¿t realize how shiny Elias and Gabry¿s relationship was so clean. How fresh they seemed in the world full of broken people. I also didn¿t realize how unique and idyllic life in Vista had been for Gabry and Catcher growing up. Just makes me think back to the night Gabry and Catcher jumped the fence. At the time you knew it wasn¿t smart¿but the further away from that night we get¿the more of this world we see¿the more your heart aches, as a reader, for what those teens left behind that night. For what they unleashed in their community; a place that was peaceful before they opened Pandora¿s box.

    I was happy that in this installment Elias and Gabry¿s relationship was strong. Obviously they¿re being trailed by their past relationships. And those past relationships are very broken people. Annah has spent her life wounded and left behind¿as evidenced physically by her scars. Catcher is living in the inbetween; not yet unconsecrated and yet too scared of his infection to fully live. Ryan toes the line with this set of four. Elias and Gabry could have induced bitterness in both the reader and in Annah and Catcher with their display of happiness. In The Dark and Hollow Places we¿ve very much left behind Gabry and Elias¿s issues¿so they seem pretty perfect in comparison to Catcher and Annah. But, luckily, Catcher and Annah are aware they¿re broken. They know they need to fix something in themselves¿and they know that they share a bond. Catcher and Annah can help each other grow and fully live life. *Sigh* I loved watching them fall in love.

    This book has yet another zombie surge. Another city falls. Instead of feeling redundant I felt as though it seemed appropriate for the trajectory of society. That¿s honestly my favorite thing about these novels. Ryan set her world on a path of apocalyptic nature and she never deviated. Instead she gave her characters strength and hope for the future¿against catastrophic odds.

    I thought I would be content to see the end of this series happen with Catcher and Annah¿I¿m not! lol. I¿d love to see them survive on the ship¿find other pockets of people in this world¿watch the world finally end or sprout seeds for a new, stronger generation of humans.

    I loved that these were zombie books without being zombie books. And the way you fleshed out the post-apocalyptic world was beautiful. It was scary, and logical, and wonderfully effective. It¿s a world I don¿t want to see end¿

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2012

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    Hjhf

    This is the saddest thing ever, its the last book!! I really wish that she wrote more. :(



    Score:10002222333345544546647467467568997531168911458123235525456375885796900852148074157961690931589072179610000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000099999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2012

    Darkforest cats...

    are EVIL.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 24, 2011

    Awesomeness

    This book is AWESOME!!! It's a must read!!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 26, 2011

    Loveit!

    I didnt like it i loved loved loved it! Please write another book!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    I cant find it :(

    Well i want to read this book but i aint goin to pay for it. Naw, i dont want ta pay for it!!!!!! The library doesnt have the book. Dont you just hate it whan you read a book and maybey the second one and when you go to get the third they dont have it. It makes me soooo mad. For all you people that constantly read, yall want to get a big group and go to the library? I NEED THA OTHER BOOOOOKK. What am i going to do for the next few days. I could be done with the book in 3-5 days.(if i aint got nutten to do) help this fellow book worm. :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    My favriot book ever!!!

    I love this book soo much its my favriot out of the whole series :)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    D'Lee

    Now the Maze Runner series... even better (by like a million stars)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2014

    Great series

    Like her previous booms this one follows character we already know and meet a new ones as well. Beautifully written. Always leaves you wanting more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2013

    Perfect ending to a perfect series

    I cried that this book was over and I hate to read. The ending was perfect in so many ways but after you still want more because it is so amazing!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 13, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This time the story is told from Annah's perspective. I really e

    This time the story is told from Annah's perspective. I really enjoyed seeing this world through her eyes. Each book brought us a different heroine that offered something different to the overall series. Annah showed the most growth as a character. I loved watching her story unfold. Carrie Ryan is an exceptional writer and story teller. She captures the good sides and the bad sides of humanity and weaves them into beautiful and believable stories.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2013

    Amazing

    The best of the series!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Can't Wait!

    I have read the first two books and it blew my expectations out of the water! Can't wait to get the money to read this one!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    More books

    They need to make books in the guys p.o.v

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    Sci fi fan

    This series was by far the best thing that i have ever read. It captured such a disturbing essence. Gawd i freakin loved it, it deffinately changed the way that i looked at the world and it has only been a few days since i have read this series, i honestly was unable to read anything else. Same thing happened to me when i read the hunger games. I just can't stop thinkin about it. My fav character has to be Annah she is so daring and beholds such an apalling past and when cather comes into this book her past comes back to haunt her, the dark city is such a vast and decolate place that it gives me this chill that overtakes my body leaving me with this dark hole of emptiness in my heart, tgis author created the most beautiful and captivating series that i had to stop reading this book for a couple of minuets and do a spazz dance in facrti am spazzing right now. Tralalalala loved it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Awesome

    Action packed!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 223 Customer Reviews

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