Friday, April 26, 2013
The 5th Wave
Putnam Juvenile, 2013
Genre: Science Fiction
Description: The 1st put an end to all things electronic and plunged the world into darkness. The 2nd wave introduced a virus that killed most of the human population. Those alive during the 3rd wave are considered unlucky as the alien drones hunt them down one by one. After Cassie and her family encounter the truth of the 4th wave she has learned the hard way not to trust anyone. It is now the dawn of the 5thwave (if one is coming) and Cassie is all alone. As she roams the countryside she faces threats from the Others—it turns out the 4th wave introduced the twist that the aliens can look human to sow seeds of distrust among the survivors and discourage them grouping together to fight back. She has lost her mother and her father and is separated from her younger brother, Sammy. When he was taken away by the military to a safe haven she promised to join him no matter what and that promise is the only thing that propels Cassie forward. When a sniper bullet tears through her leg and almost kills her she is shocked to find that she has been rescued by Evan Walker, a young farm boy who watched his parents die and then all of his younger siblings and his fiancé. Cassie doesn’t want to trust this young man who claims that she is now his reason for living but she just might need his help to keep her promise to her younger brother.
Opinion: As everyone knows The 5th Wave is the book getting all the hype this year. I’m surprised though to see that Yancey’s Monstromologist series is now being called a middle grader and this first book in a new series his “first YA” series. This isn’t true as his Alfred Kropp books were his first and, quite frankly, as a fan of the Monstromologist, I would not call this series middle grade—I consider them YA all the way. I was interested when I first heard about this new series and since I enjoyed Yancey’s previous books I was excited he was going to have a new series. First of all, the cover is pretty cool. Its eye catching and I can see many of my teens reading the back blurb (about the different waves) and having their interest piqued. Also as part of the YALSA YA Galley group we received eight copies of the ARC! Sadly, none of my teens have gotten to it yet (we have so many books for them to read right now) but I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. I like the ominous feel of the cover and how if you look really close you can see Cassie standing strong. What was my favorite part of the book? I liked the history of the alien invasion and some of the ideas about it. I liked Yancey’s twist of not just having a typical invasion story ala War of the Worlds but one in which the aliens arrive and just hover above the Earth for a while. The idea of aliens coming and destroying Earth is a pleasanter one than the thought of them arriving and just being there. One could go mad wondering when they were going to make a move or attempt contact. The fact that the aliens knew exactly how to destroy humanity was also interesting—destroy their electronics so they are thrust back into the stone age, infect the birds with a virus that will kill millions of people, so on. I also liked how the story was told from multiple perspectives—Cassie’s, Evans, Ben’s—as it gave a good break in what could have been a meandering nearly 500-page book if only told from Cassie’s perspective. I also liked that the book had a quick pace. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading a huge book since it moves quickly. However, I don’t really understand all the hype when it comes down to most of the plot. Don’t get me wrong—it is a good book. But after I was finished I wasn’t like, “OMG! This is the best YA book every written!” I wasn’t 100% wowed. A number of the elements were totally clichéd and not the big surprises that I think they were supposed to be. SPOILERS!!! For example, the first chapter to follow Cassie’s narration was that of the Silencer who shoots her in the leg and leaves her for dead. We learn that this alien is “not like the others” and while his job is to kill all humans for some reason he can’t kill Cassie (wow—typical romance set up right there). When reading this first section and not knowing about the character you think, “This is interesting.” Once Cassie conveniently meets Evan Walker his odd obsession with her and the fact that he seems to know a lot about her automatically makes the reader realize he is the Silencer . . . and I don’t think the reader was supposed to understand that. It was a little too obvious. I was pleasantly shocked to see that Zombie turns out to be Ben, Cassie’s unrequited crush. Maybe I should have seen that coming since they focused a lot of her feelings for him and whatnot but I was surprised (despite the fact that it, once again, is a very convenient thing for him to be a survivor). The fourth wave wasn’t surprising either—the aliens look human! (Hello—anyone hear about Cylons?) And the whole idea behind the fifth wave is just confusing. I like the idea of rescuing survivors and those who are ill and implanting the survivors with homing devices and then training them to be soldiers to take out the ill people who, conveniently unbeknownst to them, are just regular survivors without the implant. However, what I don’t get is why the aliens would take all the trouble to systematically wipe out human life with some high-tech stuff (the virus, the “Eye” which is a type of sonic boom that destroys anything in its path) and then instead of going around just easily picking off the survivors they create an elaborate ruse to keep the children and train them as soldiers to kill the others. It just seems counterintuitive to save portions of the species, give them all the weapons and military training they need, and then let them do the dirty work. Clearly Ben, Cassie, and Evan were smart enough to figure out the whole idea behind the fifth wave and rebel. Seems like the aliens were just setting themselves up for that. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just kill them themselves? I hope this is explained better in the sequel. Surprisingly the first book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger (it really can be read as a standalone as Cassie’s main goal—to reunite with Sammy—is achieved). I really wonder what is going to be the plot of the sequel.
Thanks to the people at Putnam for the ARC for the YA Galley Group!