Publisher: Penguin Books (2013)
Format: e-book | 480 pages
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science fiction
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!Description (GR): "The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.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."
Sorry if this review is confusing. I'll probably edit it in the next few days, I wanted to write it while the book was fresh in my mind.
The 5th Wave. Half my friends list is giving 5 stars to this book or recommending it or reading it (I'm exaggerating, but, yes it was that popular), so obviously I had to read it.
It's a popular book so I was skeptical. I know I shouldn't be, the premise is fantastic, but still. But I'm happy to say I did enjoy this book. The story had enough action, romance, shock factor and awesomeness to keep me entertained.
Not all was good, unfortunately. I think some parts just didn't work for me. Like the multiple POVs (I'll explain why later) and the love story, although I think I do understand why Cassie 'fell in love' with the Silencer. She was alone and vulnerable, he had cared for her and he was hot... and it was kind of the end of the world. Sure, I get it. I just wasn't sold on it.
I think I'll divide this review into two parts: what worked and what didn't work. Because I have so many thoughts running through my head about this book and I wouldn't want to miss anything.
The 5th Wave is an incredibly charismatic book. Does that make sense at all? It pulls you in with its story and its characters. There is just enough action, twists (predictable or not) and romance to get you through the exposition (I kind of like exposition if it's not too boring, but it might not work for everyone). The characters are though but lovable and the writing style is fluid and it makes the book easy to read and even addictive.
So, this is what worked for me: the fact that the book reads like a movie (albeit a made-for-TV one, where the characters go through much hardship... but not as lame as made-for-TV movies usually are), due to its action and general plot (alien invasion, electromagnetic wave, etc).
The fact that it had some... raw parts (sorry, can't think of a better expression) also helps. Some parts, like
the army of kids and those same kids burning corpses were pretty disturbing and were quite successful at making me feel something (disgust?). So I'd say that worked too.
The characters (as mentioned before) worked as well, mostly. Zombie and Cassie especially, but most of the characters worked because they are just examples of "overcoming hardships". So they are lovable. Everyone likes these types of characters.
What didn't work:
For me, the weakest point was the world building. I didn't get the aliens' intentions, I felt they were there only to be the villains, even though the characters hinted that it was more complex than that. That there was a purpose to the invasion. I didn't see any and I think the fact they are attacking Earth makes no sense. Here's why:
it was said that the aliens needed a new place to live, but it was also noted, earlier in the book that there are lots of planets in the Universe that can sustain Human life - so, no need to attack Earth even if they are humanoid. Plus, the aliens have no bodies. They could either make new ones (wouldn't need an Earth-like planet then, they could adapt to different conditions, perhaps?) or use human bodies (out of the question, since their goal is extermination).
So that was a fail. I liked the world well enough because it allowed for some character development and for a certain type of story to be told, but I wasn't crazy about how the aliens were a collective villain without much individuality and without good reasons for their actions. They were little more than a rather obvious plot device.
Evan didn't work for me. He was too stereotypical. As I said before, the romance also didn't ring true, especially because Evan was too "tall, dark, handsome and brooding" for my taste. It was just unrealistic under the circunstances. And why would Cassie fall for him, anyway (even after she learns the truth)? Consequently, I didn't think he was needed and was annoyed when he was given book time. Too many unneeded POV (Nugget's didn't add that much to the story either).
Overall: it was a interesting book that kept me reading for hours because I had to see what happened next. I liked the overall premise/concept, the characters and the way the author told his story. I do think the romance between Cassie and Evan was not needed, though. Evan himself was not needed. He is the type of character that plagues these types of books and even these types of movies/TV series (I'm looking at you "V").
The world building needed work as well. Why would an alien species wreak such destruction? There must be a story there... and we don't get a worthy hint (poor aliens have no home, doesn't count). I also disliked the fact that the story seemed somewhat familiar (although one of our narrators tells us this "invasion" is not like what we see in the movies, it ended being quite like it, actually).
Still, I liked The 5th Wave. It was, mostly, interesting and captivating and it's far better developed than most YA science fiction books. Worth a read, if you're into the theme.