The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 7th, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Science-Fiction
Pages: 457

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.

5 Stars

The alien invasion had never been a storyline that excited me until I read Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave roughly three years ago, which threw me into squealy fits of fangirlism. The 5th Wave excites with an imaginative apocalyptic scenario, an adrenaline-inducing plot, and engaging characters whose storylines of struggle, loss, and loneliness shook me down to my bones. Though I have become a more critical reader since I read this book, I’m positive that The 5th Wave is still right up my alley (read my thoughts on the series as a whole at the end of this review).

But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.

I think one of the reasons I liked this book so much is because I connected instantly with the main character, Cassie Sullivan. After being separated from her father and her little brother, Cassie wanders the deserted woods of Ohio – with a diary, a teddy bear, and a rifle – on her search for her little brother whom she believes to have been abducted by aliens. Yancey perfectly captures the thoughts and behaviours of a teenager. Cassie’s POV is raw, vulnerable, and drips with sarcasm. Her loneliness is almost palpable, her distrust a living thing. She is a defiant little creature, mastering the art of survival out in the wild, alone. Though I really enjoyed her chapters, I thought the diverse points of view enriched the story a great deal. Several suspense-packed POVs unravel the story until the full picture comes together. I thought the distinction between the POVs was quite satisfactory, considering they were written by the same person. The plot is mainly divided into Cassie’s and Ben’s stories, but there are also chapters written from the perspective of an antagonist, a sidekick, and Cassie’s little brother. It should not go unmentioned that all female characters in this book were fierce badasses.

The premise of a foreign species washing out humanity in five waves had me intrigued from the start. All the books and movies I had read previously had mostly dealt with alien invasions as a big bang (except for The Host, though that book had entirely different flaws). This invasion had taken place silently for years – and in deadly waves. I thought the premise of five waves – for example, robbing humans of light or spreading pests with birds – lent this story a whole new touch of creepy. Yancey paired this premise with an intense, gripping plot. Though the pacing in Cassie’s POV took a low swoop in the middle, the other POVs keep the balance even overall. The romantic subplot bothered a lot of readers but I quite enjoyed it at the time (though I might add that I have a thing for dark, brooding love interests, so I am likely biased). Evan Walker does show some very stalker-ish behaviour, that is true, but I thought the later-on relevations put his weird behaviour into perspective. The first book in the 5th Wave series comes to an end with epic fireworks, which left me longing for the second book.

In case you’re an alien and you’re reading this: BITE ME.

The 5th Wave is the exhilarating first instalment to a trilogy of the same name and one of my favourite YA sci-fi reads of all time. I loved the relatable characters, the exciting plot, the dark setting, and the sarcastic writing. The issue with this series is that the following instalments – The Infinite Sea and The Last Star – didn’t live up to the first book, unfortunately. So, while The 5th Wave is the epitome of sci-fi entertainment, I cannot recommend the series as a whole.

The reason this series circled the drain was because the other two instalments couldn’t carry the premise on their shoulders anymore. It turned out to be a balloon of hot air, and said balloon popped in the final instalment. My review for The Last Star will be posted next week.