The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

>> Wednesday, February 18, 2015

TITLE: The 5th Wave
AUTHOR: Rick Yancey

PAGES: 480
PUBLISHER: Putnam Juvenile

SETTING: Near future US
TYPE: Sci-fi
SERIES: Starts a trilogy

Took out half a million people.

Put that number to shame.

Lasted a little longer. Twelve weeks . . . Four billion dead.

You can't trust that people are still people.

No one knows.

But it's coming.

On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs. Runs from the beings that only look human, who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope.

Now Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

When the aliens arrived, people didn't know what to expect. They didn't have to wait long to find out: the intended destruction of all humans. The waves of attack came fast and furious, the 1st an electromagnetic pulse that destroyed all electronics (and a fair few people, in things like plane crashes), the 2nd a huge earthquake, followed by a resulting massive tsunami, the 3rd a deadly avian flu, the Red Death. Billions died.

It was the 3rd wave that killed Cassie's mum, but her father and little brother were fine. They managed to get out of the city and clustered in a camp with other survivors, far away from the cities. And then came the 4th wave. The people you thought were human and like you are not, and they will kill you. They came to the camp to take the little kids (including Cassie's brother, Sammy) to safety. Then they massacred everyone else (including Cassie's father). Cassie managed to escape, and now she's alone. She's only got her rifle and her determination to somehow rescue her brother.

And then she's not alone any more. Evan rescues her from a very tight spot and takes her to recover at his family's now-empty farmhouse. But Cassie continues to be just as determined to rescue Sammy, and Evan has some inside knowledge that can help.

The 5th Wave was one tense, fast-paced read. It was quite tough and bleak. Yancey doesn't pull his punches, and if you can't stand to have children in peril, you really want to stay far, far away from it, but for me, it worked.

I think what I liked best were the characters and that they didn't seem to be taking the typical character arcs. I'm really not sure what's in store for them. Cassie, for instance, gets a romance, but that's not the point of the book. She remains committed to rescuing Sammy, and then there are twists in her relationship with Evan that were really interestingly done. Cassie was a really good character, as well. There were a couple of instances when the snarkiness just felt unnecessary, but on the whole, she was great. Completely focused on her mission, but without losing the humanity that separated her from the aliens and that was what she was fighting for.

I also liked the structure and how that propelled the plot forward. Cassie is our first-person narrator from the start, but she's not the only POV character. We also get a couple of others, including her little brother. Cassie's story alternates with that of Ben, her former high school crush, who ended up almost dying in the 3rd wave right outside a big military base. Ben was then taken in by the military and put in an intense training programme together with kids as young as 6. This superarmy made up of kids will bring the aliens down, helped by technology found by the military when they recaptured the base from aliens disguised as humans. Those sections were just heartbreaking, and I became very attached to the people on Ben's team.

So anyway, we see things from both those perspectives, therefore knowing a bit more than each of the individual characters about what's going on and how things are coming together, but not enough to stop this from being surprisingly. It made the tension almost unbearable.

This is a trilogy and obviously there is a lot yet to be resolved at the end of the book. However, there is some closure, enough for the book to feel satisfying even if you don't have the next book available straight away (which I didn't when I read this, as this was a few months before the second book came out -and yes, I've read that one now, review soon!).



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