Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 7th 2013
3 OUT OF 5 STARS
“How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.”
It started with the earth losing all power, then the tides coming in followed by a disease that killed most of humanity. Now they’re walking around wearing human faces and it’s impossible to trust anyone – that’s why Cassie stays alone. When Cassie is forced to work with Evan Walker she starts to accept that maybe the 4th wave is survivable – but what will the 5th wave be?
Yancey has constructed and exceptional and unique sci-fi story of alien invaders. The opening of the book explaining the different “waves” is one of the most intriguing and thrilling openings I’ve ever read. I would read an entire novel about the first four waves anthology style with different characters explaining how they handled earth slowly being taken from them.
The place the story lost me was when Cassie met Evan Walker and the inclusion of Zombie’s point of view. The middle chunk of the book is very slow and even the ending has lost the thrill of the opening chapters. It stops being about people trying to survive an invasion and becomes a story about heroes and romance.
Speaking of romance, it feels forced. There’s very little build-up or reason (aside from “wow you’re the first boy I’ve seen in a while”) so it feels sort of awkward. Characters are also fairly ready to sacrifice a lot for people they barely know, which can sort of make sense based on the situation but really makes the relationships feel rushed all the same. I didn’t really get attached to the romantic counterparts in either POV or feel like the characters were really in love.
Zombie’s storyline is definitely important for the plot twist – but it’s a twist that could have been more interestingly told through Sammy. Zombie and his whole cast of characters are one-dimensional and boring. For a book featuring Cassie as the protagonist in the blurb there are far too many zombie pages, and they make the book a lot more of a slough than it needed to be.
The other issue is that The 5th Wave feels incredibly small scale. The whole world is being attacked but somehow everything important is happening in a few days walking distance from Cassie in Ohio. The entire earth to choose from and Ohio is chosen with no real reasoning or explanation. Outside of the few beginning chapters it feels more like Ohio is incredibly unlucky than that the whole world is dealing with this at the same time.
The opening of the book is so powerful and gripping that it’s clear Yancey could have taken this in a brilliant direction examining the world and humanity as a whole. What we have instead is a brilliant start that dwindles into fairly average tale of teen romance and heroism. The ideas are so solid, and Yancey has so much incredible potential but it just wasn’t executed in a way that made a majority of the book feel special.