The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave

Author: Rick Yancey

Publication: 2013, G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 457

Overall Rating:

Rating for Action: bth_45_zps06f87659[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_35_zps7a173504[1]

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: The alien invasion has come and gone and it’s nothing like we ever imagined.  No massive warships, no laser blasts from the sky, no little green men.  It’s worse than all that, because they know how we think and they know how to kill us.  First came the EMP, then the tsunamis, then the plague.  Now the 4th wave is here, and the survivors no longer know who to trust – who’s a friend, and who’s an alien in disguise.  To stay alone is the only way to survive.

Cassie believes that with all her heart – until she meets Evan Walker.  Tough, mysterious Evan just might be the key to helping Cassie save her younger brother.  But first Cassie has to learn how to trust him.  And the real question is – can Evan be trusted?  As the world around her dies, Cassie will have to choose whether to give up or go down fighting.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: One of the hands-down best things about this book is that for most of it you don’t know who to trust – just like Cassie.  You’ll go back and forth many times trying to figure out who’s an alien and who’s not, who’s on Cassie’s side and who’s out to destroy her.  There are no easy answers, and Yancey doesn’t an excellent job seeding the book with enough red herrings to keep you constantly on your toes.  And believe me, the final answers are well worth the wait.

What I Liked the Least: Over the course of the book, Yancey uses four separate points of view – Cassie, Zombie, Sammy, and an unnamed Silencer.  But the sections devoted to Sammy and the Silencer are extremely short (25 pages for Sammy and only 8 for the Silencer).  Afterwards, I found myself wondering why he bothered.  He should have either expanded their sections or – better yet – cut them and simply let us discover who Sammy and the Silencer were through the eyes of our main characters.

These sections were also troubling for two additional reasons.  The one on the Silencer gave me clues I later wished I hadn’t had.  And in the section on Sammy, Yancey alters his writing in order to try and create the voice of a five year old boy.  But let’s face it – you can’t really create the voice of a five year old in a book written for teens and adults.  The language in that section fell flat and in a few cases was downright awkward.

How Good was the Action?  Awesome.  Now, to be honest, action isn’t the main focus of this book.  The main focus is on the characters, on how they can survive in a world where almost everyone is dead and where it’s virtually impossible to tell enemy from friend.  For the first 350 or so pages the action is fairly light – with the exception of a few intense scenes.  But when it takes off, let’s just say Yancey knows how to light the fuse on a stick of TNT.  The last 75 pages are non-stop, with a pitch perfect combination of emotion, whirlwind action, and violence that will leave you screaming for more.

How Engaging was the Story?   In case I haven’t been clear on this point yet, let drive it home – The 5th Wave is the kind of book that sticks with you.  The impossible dilemmas Carrie and Zombie are thrust into, the stark reality of life in the face of genocide, the scramble for survival, and the fragile emotional bonds we fight to build even when the future is at its bleakest.   It’s raw, and it won’t let go.

Overall Assessment: Simply amazing.  I don’t care if you read it for the action or the drama – just read it.

Profanity: Definitely.  It’s not on every page, but Yancey doesn’t shy away from harsh language.

Sex: Some.  There’s kissing and making out, brief bits of nudity, and a fair bit of fantasizing.

Violence: Yes.  There is definitely blood and violence in this book.  People get nasty, fairly graphic wounds and people die, some of them quite violently.  In the course of her journey Cassie is forced to kill, as are other some of the other major characters – and some of the people who die are children.  And of course there is the genocide.  Most of it happens before the story opens, but almost seven billion people die and we do see some of that, even if it’s on a small scale.

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