The Last Star by Rick YanceyThe Last Star by Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave #3
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 24th, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science-Fiction
Pages: 338

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

2.5 Stars

The Last Star was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016. This book was a complete and utter disappointment, and I cannot even lie to myself about how disappointing it was. This was not the finale I had wanted for one of my hitherto favourite sci-fi series. Hence, the 2.5 stars. Ben Parish was my silver lining, as the Par(r)ishs always are (Raven Boys fans will understand).

Life is a circle bound by fear. The fear of the predator. The fear of the prey. Without fear, life would not exist.

My original review on Goodreads was very detailed and contained minor spoilers, which is why I broke this review down to the basics for the blog. My original (and very ranty) review can be viewed here.

The characters (☆☆☆)

Cassie: Never in my life have I picked up a final instalment of a trilogy only to realize the main character sounded 100% different than in the previous instalments. What happened to the sassy, sarcastic, kick-ass heroine I connected with in The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea? I was completely baffled. Still am. Granted, we waited over 18 months for this book, and a lot can happen in this time period. This, however, was a major case of OOC. Cassie Sullivan’s mind was no longer a nice place to be for a reader. Her introspection was a recycling machine of endless, dull, and repetitive thoughts without substance (and frankly, a little bonkers if you consider her comment about flags in a completely inappropriate context). The sass was limited to a few cranky remarks. This was not the Cassie I loved and remembered from the previous instalments. For a majority of the book, her thoughts circled around Evan, and Evan, and Evan, and maybe aliens and the end of the world, but mostly Evan. There was one passage, nearing the climax, during which I was finally in accord with her, because I’m a family person through and through. Teenage romance is this beautiful but short-lived adventure whereas family is a rock-solid fortress. This was perhaps one of the few positive moments – or must I say epiphanies – of Cassie Sullivan in The Last Star.

My place is with Sam; it’s always been with Sam. Sam is my raison d’être. Not some delusional Ohio farm boy crazy all the way down to the bottom of his bones.

Ben “Zombie”: Throughout the book, reading the recycling of Cassie’s dull thoughts, I was glad whenever the name “Ben” showed up beneath the chapter headline. Ben’s POV was engaging, and his mind a place of both tranquillity and sobriety. He got into a lot more trouble than other characters, which meant a lot more action-packed scenes, and who can say no to that in a sci-fi, am I right? I adored Ben’s dark humour and snarky attitude, which Evan often fell victim to (see quote below). Or, when he was hopelessly cute and optimistic in the face of the end of the human species. What pissed me off was how he continuously flirted with both Cassie and Ringer. Like dude, you can’t keep two muffins in the oven. Frankly, I wanted it to be Cassie, even though I don’t wish her on anyone, but after that “Buzz Lightyear” comment, I was ready to jump ship.

I drop the rucksack over one shoulder and the rifle over the other. “Buzz Lightyear just told us they’re blowing up the cities.”

Marika “Ringer”: Ringer was the big surprise for me in this book. I honestly didn’t care for her chapters in the sequel, but in The Last Star, she had a gripping storyline which held my interest. Though her subplot took a turn for the cheesy towards the end, I feel like her story was satisfactory. Naturally, I loved also how she didn’t take shit from no one.

Evan: As with The Infinite Sea, Yancey managed to make an interesting character disappear for a majority of the book. Evan was MIA a lot. I don’t understand why he couldn’t play a more important role since he’s in a very special position. Hence, I can’t really elaborate my thoughts on this character – one I had been quite fond of in the previous books – because he didn’t get enough stage time. I can’t even with this book.

Sam “Nugget”: I wasn’t particularly fond of how Sam was portrayed in The Last Star. The reader barely establishes an emotional connection to Cassie’s 5-yr old brother because his POVs are scarce and limited in their cognitive extension. Albeit portrayed realistically in the previous instalments, The Last Star went a little haywire with this kid. 5-yr old Sam was not depicted as a 5-yr old in this book. Despite knowing that traumatized children do not think and act rationally, I did not like his damaged relationship with Cassie. Despite knowing that children are capable of pulling triggers, I don’t think it is possible on an anatomical nor a cognitive level for a 5-yr old to construct a wired bomb. Like, please correct me if any of you would like to share your experiences as bomb builders when you were children, but until proven otherwise: No.

A year ago it was crayons and coloring books, construction paper and Elmer’s glue. Now it’s fuses and blasting caps, wires and black powder.
Who wants to read a book when you can blow something up?

The plot (☆☆☆)

With regard to the plot, The 5th Wave was the best of the series. I love it when characters have a goal, a quest, and a purpose. The Infinite Sea was alright but lost a lot of the first instalment’s spark. The Last Star’s plot meandered between sitting around and waiting for the sky to explode and gatecrashing enemy parties. The pacing felt off somehow. The antagonistic subplot kept the tension high, at least. Vosch was such a crazy SOB, and I loved the kind of villain Yancey portrayed him as: The most dangerou smen are those who do wrong but think they’re doing it for the greater good. All in all, the plot would have been more or less satisfying if Yancey hadn’t taken the scissors and cut off the ending where I thought shit was about to go down. Don’t get me wrong: Shit hits the fan several times in this book. There is definitely a bit more action than in The Infinite Sea but I really, really wanted to see that ending played out. I hate authors who dangle explosives in front of my face and then throw them in the ocean.

The writing (☆☆)

I still feel like Yancey’s writing was perfect for this setting and perfectly adequate for teenage points of view. It would be a terrible style for fantasy but it works wonderfully for sci-fi. The apocalyptic atmosphere was still carried by the prose, and yet it lacked some of the spark it had in the previous books. I remember writing down a lot of quotes from The 5th Wave, but in The Last Star, I wrote down merely… two. Two quotes that were substantial and made me ponder for a while. One of them is the quote at the beginning of this review. The second one was about the absurdity of a teddy bear.

“[…] our highest achievement and the one thing for which I pray we will always be remembered, is stuffing wads of polyester into an anatomically incorrect, cartoonish ideal of one of nature’s most fearsome predators for no other reason than to soothe a child.”

The romance (☆)

My hands roamed his body, an undiscovered country, which henceforth I shall call Evanland. Hills and valleys, desert plains and forest glens, the landscape pockmarked with scars of battle, crisscrossed by fault lines and unexpected vistas. And I am Cassie the Conquistador: The more territory I conquer, the more I want.
His chest heaved: a subterranean quake that rose to the surface like a tsunamic wave.

Desert plains and forest glens? I’m sorry, is this supposed to be sexy? (Also technically, she would be a conquistadora). Holy shit, this gave me the creeps. Later, while she’s supposed to worry for Evan’s safety because the dude has serious martyr issues, she’s thinking this:

My face is hot. I’m thinking of the night I landed on the shores of Evanland and planted my flag upon that sculpted beach.

Excuse me while I go throw up. I thought nothing could top SJM’s trembling mountains but this horrendous description of a sex scene trumps all the mountains.

Ben says something at that point, which I totally miss, because my mind has a way of scolding its own thoughts. Like, how could I be the flag-planter? Shouldn’t that be Evan?

First of all, who the fuck cares? Secondly, if I want to hear a monologue about flags, I’ll watch “Sheldon’s fun with flags” or a documentary on conspiracy theories whether the US has ever really planted a flag on the moon (*drumroll*) but this was excruciating. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you single-handedly destroy a romance. 

The sci-fi element (☆☆☆)

On the one hand, I’m quite satisfied with the conclusion to the sci-fi storyline, which focused on an alien apocalpyse. Yancey created an air of mystery while never fully losing touch with reality, especially after the revelations of the final instalment. On the other hand, I feel like after the previous books, maybe the sci-fi balloon lost some of its air? At times, this felt more like a dystopian rather than a sci-fi. While there are definitely redeeming qualities, another aspect that factored into this rating were my stratospherically high expections. The 5th Wave was one of my favourite reads in the past years. After the Infinite Sea hadn’t quite reached the former level of epicness, I really expected for Yancey to step up his game for The Last Star. Yes, we do get action. Yes, some characters I still enjoyed. However, for the most part, the main character’s change of character, the romance, and the abrupt ending weired me out.

“Well, I’m not babysitting while you go all Don Quixote on this.”
“You know, making obscure literary references doesn’t impress me.”

Well, I’m sad to report that, as with Ben’s literary knowledge, this piece of literature wasn’t particularly impressive, either.

One of the hardest questions I’ve had to answer in the last few weeks: Would you recommend the series? Well, the first book ends with a nerve-wracking cliffhanger, so I wouldn’t try reading The 5th Wave as a standalone. I’ve seen other readers love this final instalment, regarding it as a fitting ending, so perhaps, if this sounds like it could be your jam, then I would pick up this multiple-POV series about an apocalypse that washed out humanity in 5 waves. Otherwise, I’d stay away from this series.