The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave  Buy from Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

Author’s website
Publication date – May 7, 2013

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) 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.

Thoughts: After seeing this book tear its way across the blogosphere, I had to take a look for myself and see what the big deal was.

Sad to say, I didn’t really find out. This seems to be another case where my opinion goes counter to popular opinion, because I found this book fairly inconsistent with the interest it was able to generate in me, a few fairly large plot holes, and a romantic aspect that alternatingly bored and annoyed me.

I warn you, this review does contain spoilers, because it’s the only way I can talk about the good and the bad of this book without coming across as hopelessly vague.

The story starts off with Cassie, who is on a mission that isn’t revealed until flashbacks. After the vast majority of humanity has been wiped out by alien invasion, she and her brother have been separated and she’s trying to find her way back to him. You slowly get the idea that this is all being written down in the journals she carries with her, but that makes for an inconsistent tone whereby it’s hard to tell sometimes if she’s just very good at writing from the present tense while describing past events, or it’s half thought and half writing.  I do have this much positive to say, though: the way Yancey writes characters is very realistic, complete with half-finished thoughts and odd trains of thought and description. Rather than see every character’s thoughts be polished and perfect at exposition and reflection, we instead find that they’re more rough and raw, closer to the way people actually think than the way people often write people thinking.

The perspective in the book shifts every once in a while, going from Cassie to a guy who remains unnamed for a while and then gets the codename Zombie, to brief mentions of another unnamed guy who shot Cassie in the leg, later confirmed to be Evan. Who nurses Cassie back to health. And becomes her love interest.

And starts off very boring sections of the book. Cassie’s interest in Evan is almost understandable, because in high-stress situations, people often seek out comfort with another, and I can understand that. But that doesn’t mean that reading repeated passages about Evan’s eyes or hair or perfect cuticles is interesting, and it really throws off the high-tension tone of the rest of the novel, seeming very out of place. Like a false calm to the storm.

As for Evan’s interest, well, I couldn’t even begin to fathom him. Going from shooting Cassie in the leg to nursing her back to health, is a stretch for a character in his position, and it’s revealed later that he couldn’t kill her because he fell in love with her. Which means that it was love at first sight. Which overthrows all of Evan’s training and survival instincts and forces him into an awkward and dangerous situation just to rescue and heal the girl he was supposed to kill. His motivations were flimsy and suspect, and it sounded less like actual affection and love than a half-assed attempt to shoehorn some romance into the story for the sake of female characters (because protagonist females have to fall in love, doncha know?)

The most interesting sections of the book were told from Zombie’s perspective, undergoing boot camp and brainwashing and trying to survive a cruel would by becoming crueller. Personally, I would have been quite happy had the entire book been told from his perspective. Every time I broke away from his story to refocus on Cassie and Evan, I spent most of those pages looking forward to shifting back to Zombie again. Ought to tell you something about how the romance was carried out…

I mentioned plotholes, and here’s where I really have to get into the spoilers to talk about what bothered me. The aliens that are wiping out humanity have no physical bodies. They downloaded their consciousness into a giant ship’s computer so they could travel to a new and viable planet, where they proceed to wipe out the dominant species (humanity) in order to recolonize Earth. Part of the plan involved planting sleeper agents, downloading themselves into human brains (via owls, which made me think of nothing so much as the terrible movie that was The Fourth Kind) to await the day they awoke and could start wiping people out. But… why? The aliens didn’t like the idea of living within human bodies and so wanted to remove them from the picture, but what were the disembodied aliens going to do after that? Come to earth and float around in the air, like ghosts? Why destroy all human life for that? Were they planning on inhabiting other animals? Doubtful, since they found the concept of living in lower life forms like humans so abhorrent. Were they going to build awesome cyborg bodies for themselves? Maybe, but no sign of this is ever given. It created a giant plothole where it looked like the aliens had gone through all the effort to destroy humanity for absolutely no reason, except to create a book for someone to write.

This book had so much potential. The book starts off so well, provides a fascinating and chilling backdrop for a story of survival and recovery, and just goes downhill the more it goes on. Had it stayed as intriguing as it began, then I could totally agree with the hype that it generated. As it was, the romance and the plotholes just proved to be too much, and really lowered the book in my eyes. Yancey’s writing is a delight to read, but even that couldn’t save the story from itself. In the end, while I can’t say I completely regret spending time reading this, I wouldn’t want to read it again, and I can’t really recommend it to others. it had its moments, but too few of them to make it worth it. If you must read this one, do what I did and borrow a copy instead of buying one.

4 comments on “The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

  1. I’m with you, I thought it was a solid 3 stars as well. That love story was just bad and it was sad that it all ruined such a great start and intriguing premise.

  2. I agree. The character of Cassie became hard to relate to, and the romance with Evan was too rushed. It was also so unrealistic. It was obvious that he was the one who shot her. The ending was very predictable. Out of all the characters the ones in Ben’s (Zombie’s) perspective were the most relatable, not Cassie. I love Ringer. <3

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