Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Released: May 7th, 2013
THE 1st WAVE Took out half a million people. THE 2nd WAVE Put that number to shame. THE 3rd WAVE Lasted a little longer. Twelve weeks . . . Four billion dead. IN THE 4th WAVE, You can't trust that people are still people. AND THE 5th WAVE? 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.
I started reading The 5th Wave with very high expectations. The buzz surrounding this book has been huge and, for the first hundred pages or so, I thought it was easily living up to it. From then on it became a bit of a slow struggle for me to finish, sadly not helped by the POV switches and change of pace. I didn't enjoy it in the same way after that first chunk, and I'm sorry to say I was disappointed. I love aliens and alien invasions, but this one just didn't work for me. It's also a lot longer than I thought it would be, and if took me almost a week to read. I think that's proof that it didn't grab me!
The 5th Wave starts off with Cassie's story, and introduces the whole invasion story. The gist of it is that there aren't many humans left, the world has been taken over by aliens and The 5th Wave is coming. What it is no-one knows, they just know it's incoming and could hit at any time. Cassie's story is heartbreaking in so many ways, but her strength and determination, not to mention displaced humour, is what makes her segments so endearing and interesting. She's a teenager in a very alien world, both literally and figuratively. She's alone, she's fighting and she's just trying to survive another day. I interpreted this as a metaphor for growing up and living in the real world and I thought setting it against an actual fight-for-your-life scenario was brilliant.
After Cassie's initial narration, the book switches to a new point of view and does so several times from this point. I was so involved in Cassie's story that I didn't want to leave, which could be one of the reasons I never fully appreciated the other characters. None of them stood out for me as much as Cassie, except maybe Nugget. He has an interesting part to play in all this which unfolds throughout the novel, and I found his character to be one of the best.
Personally I thought there could have been a lot more emphasis on the aliens and their invasion, rather than the humans trying to survive it. I wanted to know more about the invasion and how it all played out, and all I really got was snippets. More detail could be included in further books, though, so I may have spoken too soon. I would also have liked a little more action - I was expecting some kind of Independence Day human vs. alien battle, but The 5th Wave is a lot slower and more subtle than that.
In hindsight, I think my expectations for this book were probably too high. I've learnt by now that over-hyped books tend to fall short when I actually read them and, while I really did love the first quarter, The 5th Wave sadly falls into that category. I'm in two minds about reading the sequel next year; I might check it out and give it a go just to see if I like it more, but for now I'm on the fence.