Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 7th 2013
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.
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.
The 5th Wave is a well crafted novel that tackles the subject of an alien invasion with more realism and tension than I have come across in a long time.
The story is told in multiple points of view, the main being Cassie Sullivan, a teenage girl, on the run, surviving the wilds as she aims to find her brother who was taken to a rescue camp by the military. I really like Cassie, she was snarky, brave, enjoyable to read about. Yancey did a realistic job in creating a strong narrative voice in particular one of a teenage girl who always rang true and authentic.
I liked how he didn’t gloss over the minutiae of living in the wild and the little details of the complexities of surviving by yourself, on the run with little experience was a welcome breath of fresh air (hello tampons anyone? Nice to know someone remembered!)
The 5th Wave’s biggest strength is its ability to create that foreboding tension and paranoia that you imagine would accompany an alien invasion as you realise there literally is no one you can really trust, at times not even yourself. There are brutal elements too which were at times hard to stomach, the scenes of training child soldiers for war were difficult to get through and I admit to skimming at times as the age of them really hit home and was a stark reminder that there are areas in the world where children are performing such duties with no mother ship winking down at them as a reason.
It’s biggest failing for me was the multiple POV’s. I wasn’t as emotionally invested in them all as I was in Cassie’s and at times grew frustrated as I felt it stilted the pacing. I also found their final character reveal as predictable which dispensed with a lot of the tension as I read waiting for the book to catch up.
Overall it is a strong, compelling work that handles a subject easily prey to the ridiculous in a capable and intelligent manner that makes one think about whether we really are alone in the universe and if not, do we even have a hope?