Book Review: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The Fifth Wave.jpgI think we might have the next Twilight (but better) or Hunger Games (but a little worse) on our hands! In this new Young Adult novel, to be followed up with two more books in the series in the coming years, Cassie is struggling to survive in the midst of an alien invasion.  The aliens planned their invasion around five different waves: wave one annihilated the power and electronics, wave two caused mass destruction via tsunamis and earthquakes, wave three spread a deadly virus wiping out most of the Earth’s population, wave four awoke the alien sleeper agents tasked with killing those remaining humans.  Cassie is one of the lucky ones (or unlucky depending on your perspective) to have survived the first four waves, but finds herself on the brink of a fifth.  Despite the many times she contemplates calling it quits and surrendering her life, there is one thing that keeps her going, a promise she made to her brother.  She knows the only way to make good on her promise is to trust no one – but then she meets Evan Walker, an unlikely friend (or is he?) on a lonely planet.

There has been a lot of praise for this book, but also quite a bit of criticism, mainly involving:

(1) The writing style.  I will have to agree with the critics on this point – the writing leaves a lot to be desired.  It is redundant and exceedingly simple.  The details that should have been expanded upon were not, instead devoted to retellings of the same information.  Give me some imagery!  At the very least, invest in a thesaurus!  Sometimes it was all I could do to not throw up my hands and say “We get it already!  Move on!”  I had the same trouble with Twilight – there are only so many times you can hear about how OBSESSED Bella is with her dreamy stud Edward, or Edward whisper that he has waited for hundreds of years to meet Bella (side note: give me a break, there have got to be better fish in the sea than her!). But luckily, I so enjoyed the story of The Fifth Wave that I didn’t really care much about how it was told – I just wanted to know more.

(2) The annoyingness and shallowness of the main characters.  I can also see why people would come down hard on Cassie and Evan on this point.  Cassie was pretty darn grating, even at her best.  But what do you expect – she is a teenager whose life has been ripped to shreds.  And Evan may not have had a lot of depth to him, nor do I understand how he became so enamored with Cassie so quickly (especially considering her burliness)– but did I love their romance any less?  No.  Because I am a romantic girl, and I eat that stuff up.

(3) The story is basically a rip off of The HostUnfortunately, I can’t speak to this one.  I haven’t read The Host, but if it is similar to this book, now I kind of want to.  Hopefully this is something Lauren and I can discuss in our book club discussion, because having read both, she can make some comparisons.

(4) The aliens themselves were pretty unrealistic.  Others had qualms with how the aliens were repeatedly made out to be super advanced and light-years ahead of humans in terms of technological advances and the like, yet the best way to kill the humans they could come up was to kill them in waves that allow the humans to fight back?  Well, my friends, if the aliens killed the humans in one fell swoop with their fierce alien weaponry, there wouldn’t be much of a book, would there?  I definitely think this book will be better received by those people who can don’t care as much about the alien details as they do a good love story.  And I definitely fit into that category.  So if you are going to be upset by poorly conceptualized alien invaders, well then maybe you should stick to the hard core science fiction.

All that said, I literally could not put this book down.  The chapters were short and sweet just the way I like them.  I am looking forward to the next two installments!  In fact, I was a little annoyed that Lauren had me read this book knowing that the sequels are not out yet!  Really?  I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens?  Thanks for nothing Lauren.  See if I save you when the aliens come knocking.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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