Thursday, 2 May 2013

The 5th Wave

*Review of an eARC c/o Netgalley/Penguin
5th wave

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.Source

The 5th Wave is the first in a new YA Science Fiction series by Rick Yancey which takes place in a world where aliens have destroyed life as we know it. Although the term sci-fi can be off-putting for some I would say that this is very ‘accessible sci-fi’ in that there isn’t a lot of technology talk or too much of a complicated plot to follow. Of course the book has a lot of the typical elements you would expect to find within this genre however it also manages to bring something fresh amongst the clich├ęs. As science fiction goes it is one of the slightly more plausible situations (think books like Teri Terry’s Slated), making it all the more unnerving to read. 

In part one we meet sixteen year old Cassie who’s story-telling style instantly won me over. Cassie is a realist, she’s honest, smart and most importantly she manages to speak with a humour that you wouldn’t expect from someone in her situation. A little later in the book we are introduced to Zombie, another teen who has been hit hard by surviving the first four waves and has ended up being forced to become a soldier. If I’m being completely honest at first I was disappointed, at this point I had grown used to Cassie’s voice and was enjoying the way she told her story so I wasn’t keen on the idea of a change in narrator. Luckily I soon found out that Zombie’s point of view was just as interesting as Cassie’s and the way his story played out reminded me a lot of books I’ve enjoyed in the past such as Unwind (Neal Shusterman) and Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card). As well as Cassie and Zombie we also get to hear what is happening with Sammy, Cassie’s younger brother, and at one point even the outside view of a Silencer (alien). In the end the alternating of narrators and different voices actually played an important part in preventing the story from becoming a little boring and repetitive. 

Of course there is another main character to this story in the form of the aliens themselves who have cleverly worked their way into the human’s lives. These guys are no weak opponents, they’ve already managed to take out the majority of the human population without being discovered before this story even begins! Cassie makes references throughout to how different her experience with alien invasion has been to that she had expected from watching endless Hollywood movies that depict aliens as easily vanquished. Somewhat ironically though this book seems like it would be well-suited to it’s own film adaptation - I wonder what Cassie would think of that!?

Overall I enjoyed the book, from it’s intriguing premise to Cassie’s honest approach and the secrets of Camp Haven, there was enough to keep me interested throughout despite the pacing dragging a little. There were twists and turns which were definitely necessary but not always terribly surprising and for me personally it just didn’t quite hit the mark that other books of a similar genre have done. As far as the ending goes there was no real cliffhanger but still enough to encourage me to pick up the sequel and find out how the story will progress. 

I would recommend this book for fans of the novels and series mentioned within the review (Unwind, Ender’s Game, Slated) as well as television shows/films such as V that depict human-like aliens. 


The 5th Wave is released next week (May 7th) and is available to pre-order now.

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