- The plot. As with the first book in the series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, the book has an interesting plot with a number of unexpected twists. The action scenes in particular are very well-written.
- The opening. I love that the story begins with the image of an abandoned roller coaster, the fairgrounds now overflowing with the undead. The clash of the happiness of the area in the time before the Return and the horror of it afterward was just a really great contrast and illustrated very well the degree to which life has changed.
- The helplessness. Every time you think the story has resolved itself and everything will be okay, you're wrong. Ryan just keeps throwing curve balls and finding new ways to remind the reader that in this new world filled with "Mudo" (zombies), there is no true escape.
- The back-story. In this book, the narrator's mother is Mary from the first book in the series. Throughout the book, we are given insight into what happened to Mary after the end of book one and history behind the village and the Protectorate from book one, which I really enjoyed. I felt it gave the story and characters more depth.
- The weak heroine. My main problem with this book, after being so impressed with book one and Mary, was the lack of a backbone in our new narrator, Gabry. Gabry is an indecisive coward. She's selfish, unreliable, and so focused on her own guilt that it makes her annoying and virtually worthless in almost every situation. I would have liked to read this story as a continuation of Mary's life rather than focusing on her worthless daughter.
- The romance. I'm not saying the romance and love triangle themselves were bad, but they dominated the story. I would have liked to see less focus on the love aspect of the plot and more focus on the actual world, its construction and problems, etc.
"We are nothing more than our stories and who we love."
This book was interesting and I would have liked to give it a higher rating, but the weak narrator and all-consuming romance ruined it a little for me.