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Sunday, 24 July 2016

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave, #1) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

They are coming for us.

All of us...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 457
Chapters: 91
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Whoa, what a journey! Like, seriously, I'm not sure my world has stopped spinning yet it's so bloody fantastic.

I'm a little late to the party, especially considering that the last book in this trilogy has been released, and not too long ago (don't worry, I picked it up, which was brave considering I hadn't read the first entry yet). I've seen the film, which I think is fine, and, accidentally (curse you Google!), while perusing online for some info I spoiled the end of the series for myself (what was I thinking?).

But, neither do anything to rob me of my enjoyment. The 5th Wave is a tremendous story of survival, loneliness and trust; three themes that author Rick Yancey perfectly portrays in a plot rife with action and emotion. The apocalyptic landscape is a wonder to behold and the characters that populate it are all diverse and layered.

A smashing foundation for a trilogy.

Synopsis (This time round, I'll be using the blurb that comes with my edition of the book.)

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 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.

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

The 5th Wave is one of those novels that has you right from the start. Yancey mixes the present with the past, showing us where characters are and the trials that they went through to get there. It's not seamless, but it's pretty darn close. It's not an easy balance to achieve, especially when tenses are switching so often. The stage is set with emotional scenes that depict an Earth ravaged by alien invaders, and the quality is on point.

Action offsets the exposition, and once we're past the past, the present is a hooking ride. The way the author imbues his novel with so many dark themes but still manages to keep a sliver of light is remarkable. 

There is a lull in the middle, I will admit, but, for me personally, with such an interesting story of survival championed with such an exceptional cast, I can't muster any annoyance.

There are a few things that I'm not entirely sure of or understand, but they're small things that border on being completely inconsequential. And when we reach the explosive ending, Yancey answers enough to satisfyingly close the novel while keeping a few cliffhangers to make sure we're salivating for more.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

While The 5th Wave has its fast-paced moments, I wouldn't necessarily call it a fast-paced novel, and that's not a negative. The delicious themes demand time and effort, and both are apparent. The depth of the cast eclipses the overall plot, but that plot is still a wicked ride. The beginning might prove difficult for some considering the rapidly switching tenses, but a little focus during that part should prove invaluable.

As a whole, it's consistent. Aside from that lull in the middle, it's riveting.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

The 5th Wave's cast is my favourite aspect of the novel. It's phenomenal. The chemistry and development are intricately woven throughout this alien-infested landscape. With trust out the window and isolation most people's only friend, the unpredictability of scenes is a definite highlight. 

I adore Cassie, our marginally predominant protagonist (we do get other viewpoints). She's a screwed up human being whose morality has been completely splintered. Her compassion wars with her fear, and that palpable inability to trust makes the romantic relationship with mysterious Evan all the more sweeter. Her progression from scattered victim to capable survivor is wonderful, and is only bolstered by how much fun her sarcastic voice is.

Zombie, or Ben, is likely second when it comes to the time given to the various viewpoints. And the fascination doesn't dim. Where Cassie is driven more by the sheer determination to understand and fit in a new world, Zombie works more from undiluted guilt. He has a heart of gold, but that hasn't stopped him from making choices that haunt his every second. His beginnings are a realistic look at someone in such a contentious environment; a merciless gut-punch that asks the reader to be honest about what they'd do in a life-or-death situation.

Now, Cassie and Ben know one another, with both having attended the same high school (plus Cassie had a major crush on Ben, while he largely only knew her in passing). But in this new world you just don't trust anyone, and while most have adopted the mindset of never hoping again, little Sam, Cassie's young brother, becomes the novel's link between worlds, and I love that. Sam's development follows him toughening up in a world gone deadly, but he also keeps the ideal of hope alive when it's missing from most.

Our last main, main character (in my opinion, there are more people) is Evan, the stranger steeped in the unknown that saves Cassie from certain death. I won't go too much into it, because I don't want this review having any spoilers, but his identity crisis and personality are two fantastic elements to the story.

The way the characters are placed and moved and worked around one another is a thrilling experience.

Writing - 4/5 Stars

There's a certain philosophical aspect to Yancey's writing in this novel that really has you contemplating everything. While the world is in the middle of an alien invasion, the parallels between the fictional and the real really have the reader absorbed. 

Scenes, for the most part, are clear and built well; the switching tenses at the beginning can jar a little, but keep with it, it evens out; and be wary for swapping viewpoints, because I know some folks absolutely hate that (I don't, especially when each character rocks, like here).

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

Better late than never. I am so glad to have finally started this trilogy.

Keep up the great work, Mr Yancey, I shall see you all in the next entry!


Next Instalment: The Infinite Sea


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