The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Penguin, 2013) Borrowed from my local library.
“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.
Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”
Wow. This is one ambitious book. I think this fact works both for, and against it.
What worked for me?
Tone – There’s this overwhelming sense of hopelessness. It’s drilled into you from the first few pages. And even when you’re offered glimmers of hope, a chance at survival, it still feels futile. Improbably, at the very least. This might not seem like a ‘positive’ aspect, but I liked that. In a situation like that there is no room for sentimentality.
Writing style – Generally speaking I really like the way this is written. It’s gutsy and it’s far from being ‘basic’. For me, it feels like it dips into a literary style and I think that can be quite a gamble for YA lit. There is definitely something reminiscent of Margaret Atwood here. SF with a twist.
Multiple POVs – Usually I hate this technique with a passion. But something about it worked for me here. At first, I was confused (heck, I spent most of this book confused!) however, I think the change of perspective allows for a kind of break. A breather, of sorts.
Movement – I enjoyed the movement within this story, especially at the beginning. I liked the flash backs, the present action, the future left up in the air (Ha! Poor choice of words, all things considered)
What didn’t work for me?
Cassie – She didn’t come across very well. I struggled to find some kind of connection with her. She talks a big game, and that’s necessary for survival. But then she has these lapses and it’s like she’s a cliche american teen movie. Her comparisons often feel out of place. She draws parallels between things that clash, and not in a good way. And she has the tendency to be repetitive. The human race is doomed. I get it. Also, she’s a virgin. I’m not really giving away a plot point here because I think we’re reminded of this at least three times in the first hundred pages.
I think what did it for me was when she turns from gun-toting badass to gibbering mess. And why? A boy, of course. Jeez. Because us girls don’t have enough trouble with credibility as it is!
SF references – The problem with aliens is that it’s been done before. A lot. I appreciate that this book tries to acknowledge all of our own assumptions and creative responses to possible ‘life out there’, but for me it only serves to lessen the blow somehow.
Plot – It be cray! I think there was too much going on. Like I said above, it’s an ambitious book, but sometimes it was just too overwhelming. I was often confused, and I found the writing (as much as I liked the style) to be heavy on the ‘telling’ sometimes. There are a lot of ideas and themes being pushed into one story, and I felt like it needed to cut back a little.
I admire this book. I’m not sure I can say I enjoyed it exactly, but I was stuck on reading it. I’m not sure it was great common sense on my part to read something that uses Ebola as one of its main weapons against humankind. Yeah, as if I needed another excuse to be a hypochondriac.
I want to give this book 4 out of 5 stars. And I think I will. It’s a weird rating because normally I’d give a book like this 3 stars at the most. But it’s got real balls, and as a writer, I have to admire that, and reflect that in my rating. It’s definitely got its flaws, however, it’s a tense read! I can’t say I’m itching to get the next book, but I will eventually, without a doubt.
GREAT cover art. xD