by Rick Yancey
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 7, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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A bit of background: I spent a good chunk of my adolescence obsessed with “The X-Files.” Obsessed. Aliens replaced vampires as the creature that struck me with extreme terror. So a book about a scary-as-hell alien invasion? Sign me up. (Not for an alien invasion. I’d be hopeless in a survival situation. But I’ll devour a “close encounters of the horrifying kind” book from the safety of my well-lit house.)
The 5th Wave is a fast-paced book, and author Rick Yancey shows us the cold cruelty of one species deciding to exterminate another. His aliens are clinical in their approach. They are calm and patient, confident that they will win in the end. Juxtapose that with the surviving humans: scattered, stripped down to their basic survival instincts, starving and scared. It’s a visceral difference and one I felt deeply through Yancey’s characters.
I adored main character Cassie. Yancey perfected the voice of a sixteen-year-old girl whose will to survive hasn’t quite doused her teen insecurities. She’s tough and willful, yet plagued with doubt. Even better, she’s normal. She’s survived through luck and wherewithal, not because she’s some superhuman or “chosen.” I love that. She’s an ordinary girl facing extraordinary circumstances, and that’s absolutely engrossing to read.
There are other well-drawn characters we see, each one trudging along their path until they decide to make their own route. And the routes they take! Yancey packed this book with action and tension from the first to the last. In between we’ve got squishy moral questions (child soldiers, killing first) and a surprising amount of heart for an apocalyptic story. This is a different sort of horror from the other Yancey series I loved (The Monstrumologist), but it stays with you nonetheless.
While parts of the plot were predictable, and some “chance” meetings stretched the bounds of coincidence, I really enjoyed a ton about this book—the first in a series—and will be on the lookout for 1.) the sequel; and 2.) a giant alien eye in the sky. Fingers crossed I only experience 1.