The Infinite Sea, by Rick Yancey

>> Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TITLE: The Infinite Sea
AUTHOR: Rick Yancey

PAGES: 320
PUBLISHER: Putnam Juvenile

SETTING: Near-future US
TYPE: Sci-fi
SERIES: 2nd in a trilogy, follows The 5th Wave

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

The Infinite Sea picks up right where The 5th Wave left off, so if you haven't read that one, you probably don't want to read this review. Spoilers ahoy, plus, it might not make much sense.

So, plot? Well, Cassie and Ben's team (including Sammy, whom Cassie was so determined to rescue) survived the escape and as the book starts, they are holed up in an abandoned hotel, figuring out what to do next. Cassie is convinced Evan survived as well and will return to them, so she wants them all to stay put a bit longer. The others aren't as convinced. Ringer leaves to reccy some nearby caves where they could find safer refuge, and things go wrong. Meanwhile, Evan has indeed survived and has been rescued by Grace, another Silencer he knew from before the attacks started. She's very curious about his actions, clearly wondering what's going on. And things go from there.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one nearly as much as I did the first one. It suffers from middle-book syndrome, in that we're basically just in a holding pattern, waiting for the big conclusion. Nothing much happens, really, in spite of the non-stop action. The only development of the larger plot is that we find out something mildly surprising about the Silencers and something happens physiologically to Ringer. Compared to book 1, where the revelations came fast and furious, that’s nothing, and it made this feel a bit boring and pointless.

The structure is also strange. I really liked the split structure with alternating stories in book one, but this didn't work nearly as well. The split structure is there, but not so much alternating. We have a bit of Ringer at the beginning, then she and the rest become separated and for half of the book we stay with Cassie and Ben and the others. Then the second half goes back to Ringer, and these two halves never really marry up. In fact, we leave the larger group at the halfway point in what seems to be the middle of things. At least book 1 had some sort of natural closure.

Leaving Cassie and the others wasn't a problem, though, because I would have DNFd this if I'd had to spend more time with Cassie. I really liked her in book 1, even though at times she was needlessly, stupidly sarcastic, but I couldn’t stand her here. Her snarkiness gets even more extreme here, plus she’s added a nice side of slut-shaming and cattiness. She just hates any girl who’s better-looking than her, and boy, her inner monologue does not let us forget it. She's just unforgivable to Ringer, who's done nothing to her, and when they run into Grace, the female Silencer, instead of worrying about the fact that this woman has a really good chance of killing them all, Cassie starts obsessing about the fact that she looks like a supermodel. On and on and on and ON and it was then I very, very nearly decided to make this a DNF. I was much happier with Ringer, really.

The other issue I had was that the writing style drove me crazy here. It's not hugely different from what it was in book 1, but it felt like Yancey amped it up here, and it became over-the-top. It’s much too heavy on the laboured metaphor and the inane, quasi-deep cod-philosophical bullshit.

Now, I did like some things about the book. It’s still very dark and goes places I didn't expect, and the little bits we got about Poundcake, the recruit we met in book 1 who does not speak and is a bit pudgy, were really touching and well done. And yes, I do want to know what happens in the end (even though there was a big fucking anvil of a clue dropped here… either that or it was a huge AK 47 that was hanging on the wall in the first act and never fired). I will be reading book 3 when it comes out, but I probably won't be as excited about it as I was about this one.



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