366 Days of Writing · Book Reviews · Original Posts

Book Review: The 5th Wave (Day 125)

the 5th wave

My book club read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey for the month of April. While I was very hesitant about this one, because I’d read tons of negative reviews, I found for the most part that this was a solidly enjoyable read. Here’s the description from Goodreads:

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.

Okay, so the first 100 pages or so, I LOVED this book! It was fast-paced, exciting, compelling, and well-written. I loved Cassie; she was honest and refreshing. She didn’t become she wasn’t because of the apocalypse- her essential “Cassie”ness was just boiled down to a hardened form. It was so well-written, describing the horrors of Cassie’s world so well that I was afraid to read it before going to bed.

And then, Cassie encounters Evan Walker. After that, I HATED her. I hated her the whole rest of the book, because her wonderful “Cassie”ness was just washed away in his “chocolate” eyes. UGH. I wanted to throw things. The critical part of this tangent that was such a mistake, in my opinion, wasn’t even Evan himself. Though he was pretty creepy, especially in the beginning, I actually warmed up to him by the end. It was the loss of Cassie’s character that really frustrated me. Yancey spent over 100 pages building up this great, complex heroine that I was cheering for on every page, and then he inexplicably destroyed her in like two sentences! UGH UGH UGH. Here’s some examples of pre-Evan Cassie:

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

“What were they thinking? ‘It’s an alien apocalypse! Quick, grab the beer!”

“I don’t move. I wait behind my log, terrified. Over the past ten minutes, it’s become such a dear friend, I consider naming it: Howard, my pet log.”

“In case you’re an alien and you’re reading this: BITE ME.”

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Mercifully (since DNFing wasn’t an option), there was an abrupt POV switch. Which totally threw me, until I figured out who the new narrator was. I LOVED “Zombie”! I loved his strength and principles, despite his environment. I loved his attachment to “Nugget”. Zombie’s real identity may set up some problems in the next book that I’m not looking forward to (and, um, excuse me, what was that at the end? Why did it happen???), but I loved him and his squad. I could not wait to get back to his chapters!

The whole plot of the invasion was genius, if a bit confusing. Cassie tells the story of the first four waves slowly, and it takes a long time for the story to come out. The 5th wave itself is really, really confusing. Just when I thought I knew what was going on, a new twist totally changed everything around. Yancey does a wonderful job misdirecting readers about what’s really going on.

With the exception of the whole Evan tangent, this book was well-plotted, well- characterized, and well-written. It’s written in first person, with no announcement as to who the new narrator was every time it changed, which was a bit confusing, but other than that Yancey pretty much sold me on his first-person narration, which is hard to do! I talk about how much I hate first person narration in this post, if you haven’t seen it yet. However,  I think that this style probably made this a difficult book to translate to the screen, as was recently done, starring Chloe Grace Mortez. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but that’s my supposition. If you’ve seen it, tell me how it is! I’m supposed to watch it soon. The movie trailer is here, if you’re interested.

Overall: 3.5/5 stars

This book lost a whole star and a half for the rushed ending and the Evan mistake, as I’m going to call it, but other than that it was an entertaining read. I’m looking forward to reading The Infinite Sea and other works of Yancey’s.

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