Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: 5th Wave #1
Genre: YA, post-apocalyptic, science fiction
Published on May 7, 2013
Published by Putnam
Pages: 480
Read From: 7.4.13 - 7.6.14

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, just 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 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 to get up.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? Combine the title and the setting (or rising) sun in the background, along with the lone figure, and it definitely says "apocalypse." What it fails the say is how slow of an apocalypse it really is.

Characters: Problem Number One: I didn't care about any of the characters. I at first rather liked Cassie because she had a sarcastic sense of humor and she wasn't afraid to use a gun. As she stated often, her M16 was her best friend. But then she met Evan, and Cassie swiftly spiraled into a clingy, bitchy, and sometimes irrational person who spent way too much time noticing Evan's bottom. I realize that Cassie has some loneliness issues and a great need for human contact and trust - after so long in the wilds alone, trusting no one - but really, her attachment to Evan comes too quickly. I just wouldn't trust someone that fast in a post-apocalyptic scenario, even if I just needed to, at risk of losing my sanity. Ben didn't have much of a personality; the nickname Zombie suited him very well. Sam could have been a super annoying whiny little brat, and he wasn't, though I wanted to slap him when he asked a bunch of questions rather than just listening to his big sister. I'm the youngest of my siblings and I knew to listen to my sister when she told me to do something - especially in the event of an emergency. The bottom line is, I didn't care about Sam. Ringer was kind of cool, I'll admit. She handled a gun and commanded a certain amount of respect from the boys without having an Attitude. But did I become attached to her? No. Evan, meanwhile, had a bad tendency of lurking behind doors and in hallways, so he came across as just a little bit creepy. I also knew his personal background "twist" as soon as he walked into the story, so his "mysteriousness" was lost on me. And as for the aliens? Well, they were hostile alright, and I like alien invasion stories when the aliens are hostile. Nice aliens are so boring. However, I saw some flaws in their extermination plan that kind of ruined their scariness factor. I wanted to physically pop into the story and say, "Um, aliens, good job being evil and all, but there's this one little thing that really bothers me, and it kind of makes you guys look silly rather than super smart and unbeatable."

The Romance: Cassie falls for Evan, and Ben falls for Ringer. Ben and Ringer's relationship doesn't get very far, and I was okay with it for the most part. It's kind of sweet and in the background. Cassie and Evan, however, are the exact opposite. They both fall for each other fast and hard, even though they don't know each other at all - and Cassie has a very good reason to suspect that Evan isn't who he claims to be. [Spoiler]He's an extraterrestrial. Not only that, he's the sniper who's been hunting Cassie.[End spoiler] So why would you get all lovey-dovey with a guy your brain tells you you shouldn't trust? It's not like Cassie is working him so she can get something from him, either. Like I said earlier, I get that Cassie has this overwhelming need for human contact, but this is going overboard. And could she please stop oogling his bottom just for a little while - or mentioning how his breath smells like chocolate? For the record, chocolate smells awful when it's on someone's breath.

Plot: People on Earth are going about their normal lives, oblivious to what might be out there in the rest of the universe - and whether what's out there might take exception to humankind. Then one day an alien spaceship appears in the atmosphere and a huge EMP pulse - generated by the spaceships - brings civilization to a complete halt. That's the 1st Wave. The 2nd Wave creates giant tsunamis simultaneously around the world, wiping out entire countries. The 3rd Wave was the Red Death - a virus that destroyed even more people. The 4th Wave? Extermination. Hunting down and sniping the remaining survivors. Cassie's story picks up at the beginning of the 5th Wave - which is where the aliens' brilliant and unbeatable plan began to show holes. Warning: spoilers ahead. Unfortunately, I cannot address the hole without revealing some key plot "twists." I say "twists" because it didn't take me long to figure them out. As Cassie sits under an abandoned car, bleeding out from a bullet wound in her leg, she remembers how she became separated from her dad and little brother Sam. Soldiers are gathering up children under the age of fifteen and taking them to Camp Haven. There, the military claims that they have discovered that the aliens are living inside of people, like parasites embedded in the brain. But the military has found a way to detect these aliens, and the children of the world are their only hope of destroying the extraterrestrials. So they train the children up into little child armies, embed a tracker in them so they can be found no matter where they are (totally not suspicious, right?), and unleash them on the aliens. The newly minted soldiers tote around special goggles that make alien-infested people glow green so they can be spotted easily. Ah, but here's the twist: the military base is run by the aliens! And the glowing people are in fact innocent humans that haven't been captured by the aliens and chipped. The lack of a tracking chip is what makes people glow green. What's my problem with this? In their base, the aliens have a giant map that allows them to locate every single surviving human on Earth, anytime, anywhere. If the aliens can do that, why don't they just blow them all up? Or send in an alien SWAT team and mow 'em down? Why go through the trouble of gathering together a bunch of human kids, brainwashing them, training them, equipping them, and risking them finding out the truth? (Which, of course, the main characters do.) In trying to create a unique and shocking plot twist, the Author ignored the fact that with this ability, the aliens simply wouldn't bother. There aren't many people left; just go out and systematically destroy them without the need of an elaborate deception. Spoilers are now over.  The plot's other flaw is pacing. In the beginning, we Readers are dropped right smack in the middle of everything, with absolutely no explanations, so it's kind of confusing at first. But gradually Cassie gives us the backstory and we're good to go! Except . . . nothing much is happening. All of the action is in the backstory, when the aliens initiate the first four Waves. The 5th Wave is spent with Cassie oogling Evan's bottom, Ben being turned into a child soldier, and Cassie oogling Evan's bottom some more. With an alien invasion, I expect a lot more to happen. At first the slow pace is the sort of slow that keeps the Reader intrigued; the Author drops just enough hints of things to come, but doesn't explain too much. But once I figured out what was going on, and once it became clear that we would spend more time staring into Evan's chocolate eyes than with the actual aliens, I got bored. Very bored.

Believability: Not applicable, unless we're talking about survival skills, and the Author did fine in that area.

Writing Style: Cassie's narration is in first person and switches between past and present tense. It got so bad that I just ceased to notice either way. And then we're thrown into Ben's narration with absolutely no warning, and for a minute I was very confused. How did Cassie end up here? But then I realized: it's another character. Ben's narration is in present tense pretty consistently and therefore easier to follow. There's a couple of parts in third person, past tense, but they don't crop up often and just act as a way to transition smoothly into future key events. There was nothing I liked about the writing style itself. It was extremely movie-ish and choppy; there was no beauty to it, and it made the action sequences feel like a cameraman who couldn't hold the camera still.

Content: 27 s-words, 2 g--damns, 5 f-words. The violence is a bit gory at times, but not all that bad.

Conclusion: Once Cassie broke into the base to find her brother, things became rather convoluted. She finds him and meets up with Ben, but after that . . . I was a bit lost. They were leaving, and something was blowing up, and Cassie was almost sucked in - I think - and it created a black hole - literally? I didn't catch that - and a plane took off . . . . Since there's two sequels, I gathered they didn't defeat the aliens, though I wasn't sure at first. It just kind of . . . ended. Maybe it's the norm for alien invasion stories to be slow. It seems like it shouldn't be, but so far I have yet to read a fast-paced one. The 5th Wave started out confusing, got a lot better, and then fell. I didn't care about any of the characters, I figured out the twists and got bored, the writing didn't suit me, and the end was a bit of a confusing mess of melted metal and dirt clods. Will I read the sequels? No.

Recommended Audience: Girl-and-guy read, eighteen-and-up, fans of slower-paced alien invasions, post-apocalyptic, and disaster stories.

Others in This Series:
1)The 5th Wave
2)The Infinite Sea


  1. I thought I was the only one who didn't like this book! I completely agree with you about the characters. I couldn't connect with any of them and the romance between Cassie and Evan progressed too fast. They were basically strangers, yet they had a insta-love connection. *facepalm*

    Daphne @ Reading Until Dawn

    1. I thought I was the only one, too. :)


Thank you for visiting The Reading Hedgehog! The hedgie and I love hearing from our readers, so please feel free to leave a comment or question! I always try to reply within a day or two. Please keep all comments civil and clean.