Monday, April 7, 2014

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey, a book review

The premise:  An alien invasion happens upon the earth, taking place in five stages (or waves). These are not your friendly candy-nibbling aliens on a mission to gather plant samples; these aliens have been living amongst us for years, waiting until the right time to kill off the majority of the human race. The Host meets The Puppet Masters.
The story is told in varying POV’s, predominantly from the perspectives of 16 year old Cassie and high school football hero, Ben (a guy Cassie was hardcore crushing on in school prior to the invasion). With aliens that look and act exactly like us, it is nearly impossible to trust anyone, creating a climate where it is smarter to kill first and ask questions later, destroying what little humanity the remaining 3% of the world’s population has left.

What I liked best: I have a history of not being terribly impressed with female protagonists in general, my opinion of them ranging anywhere from a mere “meh” to a primal scream whilst I hurl the book across the room. But I really liked Cassie. Here’s a girl whose parents are killed in the waves of the invasion. Her little brother is taken away to an unknown location for unknown purposes. And she is living completely and utterly alone, terrified to die, even more terrified to live, the only thing keeping her going is the desire to get her baby brother back. Oh, and she’s snarky. I always love a character whose tongue is as sharp as her wit, especially in the wake of tragedy.

The second thing I liked best: Evan. A gun-toting, plaid shirt wearing, hunky guy worthy of any Tumblr nature blog, minus the beard (thank goodness). He’s polite, he’s sweet, he’s mysterious, he’s emotionally tortured, and oh yeah, he might just be the enemy. All things to keep this swoon-addicted girl turning the pages.

But don’t get me wrong, the romance in this novel is well-balanced and not too heavy. The 5th Wave is full of bleakness, action, tension and suspense. The romance is a needed break for the reader, a respite from the calamitous conditions of the world Mr. Yancey has created.

Bottom line: Okay, so let’s be honest, there’s nothing terribly new about the premise, especially for hard core sci-fi fans. But I can suffer a recycled plot as long as an author makes me care about the characters. I read to be emotionally invested. And Mr. Yancey has effectively crafted together a number of well rounded characters, ones to love and (sometimes more importantly) ones to hate. I finished the book from the halfway point to the end in one sitting. Definitely a page-turner. Is there a movie deal? Yup. It is currently classified as “in development.” Will I be going to see the movie? Heck, yeah (Dear Hollywood, you have a history of mucking up sci-fi movies. Please don’t do it. Thank you). Will I be reading the next book in this series, The Infinite Sea? You bet your sweet bippie I will.