Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Early Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The 5th Wave #1
Reviewed by Noelle: April 10, 2013
(YAA received an ARC of this book from the publishers)
(Will be) Published May 7, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Goodreads • Preorder on AmazonKindle

Aliens are coming and everyone knows it. They've been hanging out in orbit for a week or so now, observing Earth. Waiting. Watching. And they like what they see. They like it a lot. Except here's the thing: they don't really do sharing, so nothing against us humanoids, but we've gotta go.

Earth's eviction notice comes in five waves:

Wave #1: Say buh-bye to electricity.
Wave #2: Hope you live above sea-level.
Wave #3: You thought lil' ol' bird-flu was scary? That's cute.
Wave #4: Shhh...what you can't see might kill you.

By the fourth wave, 95% of the human population is dead and those who remain aren't even sure who the real enemy is--or what they look like. The fifth wave is coming, battle lines have been drawn and Earth's greatest weapon is up for grabs: humanity itself.

The 5th Wave is a taut, psychological sci-fi thriller that is destined to be a huge hit and deservedly so. The suspense is well-crafted and the characters' voices, particularly Cassie's, feel alive and three dimensional.

Cassie, a "normal" teenager who suddenly might actually be the last human on Earth, is my favorite. She is isolated and on the run but desperately driven by the chance of reuniting with her younger brother--at much physical, psychological and emotional pain to herself. I loved reading about her struggle to stay pragmatic in the face of paranoia and her moral balancing act with the ever evolving rules of survival in the post-invasion world.

I wasn't as engaged with Zombie's POV but I rather enjoyed the character when he was depicted by others. The strength of his character voice wasn't as dominant as Cassie's and while that made sense with his character's story line, Zombie's guilt (and other extenuating circumstances) gave his voice a muted quality in comparison. I enjoyed the psychological suspense the most and wished those aspects of Zombie's story had been cranked all the way up to the Ness-ian levels they flirted with. (I couldn't help but also wonder what it'd be like with a dual female protagonist POV pair of Cassie and Ringer as well...) There are several other intriguing smaller POVs that have room to grow in future installments of the series and one in particular I would have SO much to talk about if not for pesky spoilers.

The POVs expertly enrich the depth and scope of the invasion and the story is such that even though you'll figure some twists out before the characters, it does nothing to diminish the suspense or emotional rewards. Sure there are some questions that surface when you think too much about certain plot points (the age demographic of the squads for one), but the overall result is so entertaining and well-written that the questions are easy to brush aside. The more the different POVs come together, the stronger the story grows with surprisingly moving results.

I love backing characters into corners to see what they are capable of--and an alien invasion has a lot of corners. Let's face it. Humanity is freaking weird and that will always be our secret weapon. How strong we can be with our weaknesses. How unpredictable we are in our predictability. Humanity has a fluidity than cannot be fully foreseen or contained. You can back humans into a corner and you're never quite sure what you're going to get. The results can at turns disgust or delight, but something will always prevail.

Whether that is to the benefit of Earth's surviving humans or the new invaders, is yet to be seen.  But I'll definitely be reading to find out! Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Read the first 70 pages for free!

*I got a sort of sick relief that Florida (aka me) would get wiped out by the second wave and miss the whole bleeding-from-every-orifice third wave, but that's why I'm a lowly blogger and not the star of an amazing sci-fi action adventure I guess.

**Bonus points for mentioning tampons in a dystopia! What's next--actually acknowledging body hair when all the razors are gone?

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