Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey (#1)

THE 5TH WAVE has been news around the blogosphere for months now with a mixed reaction to this science-fiction novel targeted for young adults. I was a little apprehensive whether I wanted to read this book after all the comments at its romance, the aliens, the writing and narrators. But then there are some amazing reviews for this book, one of which simply said "I can't explain my feelings for this incredible novel. Just read it".
So when I saw this book in my library, much to my surprise, it was the perfect opportunity to pick it up and discover the hype about this unique book.

Synopsis: After four terrifying and devastating waves, Cassie has learnt to trust no-one. Some of the remaining humans on Earth may look human but inside they are controlled by the aliens themselves. Cassie calls them 'Silencers' as they silence the remaining living. Cassie knows that she must stay alone to stay alive. Until one day when Cassie is injured, she is taken in by Evan Walker, a mysterious guy who disappears each night to 'hunt' for food yet never comes back with anything, yet he is kind to her. Cassie must choose whether to fight, to trust, to live or just give up.

Review: I think one of the problems - and strengths - of this novel is that it is SO different from a lot of YA fiction out there and a lot of readers expect this to be the next Divergent or the next Hunger Games. But there is one basic flaw right there. This isn't dystopian fiction. Dystopian is a sub-genre of science fiction. The genre of science fiction does exist outside of adult fiction although you hardly see any Children's or YA science fiction as dystopian takes up a large percentage of the market (sorry bookseller talk coming out here).
And I think that's why a lot of readers don't like THE 5TH WAVE. And do like it too. It's different, it's 'out there', it's original and it's completely different in the structure, narration and plot to a lot of books around. While dystopian asks 'WHAT IF?' in the future, THE 5TH WAVE asks 'WHAT IF?' right now, in present day.

THE 5TH WAVE is also complex, which is like a breath of fresh air for readers like me who have read SO many YA book that are similar from one another. And also very '2D' with one plot line.
This book follows Cassie primarily who is the main narrator on her journey to finding and saving her 5 year-old brother who was taken away from her. She is a civilian, merely lucky enough to have survived the waves before her. Accompanying her narrative is Zombie, a young boy who is saved when he has the deadly plague that the aliens released in the 3rd Wave. He is taken to a military base where he is learning to fight those against him. The narratives gradually get closer and closer to one another, the reader expecting constantly for them to converge until the very the last part to the novel where they finally meet in Cassie's narrative. There are also some chapters narrated by Sammy, Cassie's brother and an unnamed narrator. There is the feeling gradually increasing throughout about how unsecured and dangerous Cassie's world is which is made all together too realistic in my eyes.

Now the writing THE WRITING. Throughout this book, there is the hidden, undercurrent that something frightening and terrifying is about to happen which keeps you constantly waiting and on edge - which a narrative technique that is quite hard to achieve. The terror the characters feel on the page is so poignant to you as a reader which made me love and root for Cassie and Zombie the whole way through. I loved all the twists and turns that Rick Yancey takes you on and the fast pace just adds perfectly to that making this book at times incredibly suspenseful and exciting to read. The sequence of the plot is quite special as it literally throws you head first into the action, without any world building or knowledge of what is happening apart from the blurb so you gradually have to build up this idea of the devastation that has taken place as well as the events that have turned Cassie's life around. It wasn't, I guess, until about halfway that I truly started to enjoy the book because I was a little confused and trying to work out the world building. But I like book like that - ones that make you think.

In a few reviews on Goodreads, I saw that some say they felt the romance was too sudden, too unrealistic which I can totally see because it kind of just pops up. But seriously guys? Wouldn't you appreciate some company at the end of the world when aliens are after you? I know I would. It is quick, sure, but it works in context. The romance doesn't dominate the novel, like many other science fiction and dystopians out there, it's there at points but I never cared too much about it. And I love that - its what sets THE 5TH WAVE apart from other books and made it all together more realistic. My only problem is after THAT ending, I think a love triangle may come into the picture which may be a downfall for this series...but we'll jump that hurdle when it approaches.

I can see why there is so much controversy over this book, mostly I think because of its structure and its genre. But that is why I loved this more. I'm a little bit of a science fiction movie geek, with War of the Worlds and Back to the Future being some of my favourites so I loved to see that translate to the book world.
This is a hard genre to do well and it's clear Yancey understands the world he is trying to build especially the different complicated elements of the aliens. There are many homages to science fiction novel and movies like War of the Worlds and in Cassie's lovely, real - sometimes sarcastic - narration, you get a sense of how unrealistic some of the theories are - which makes this much more realistic and scarier.
I'm impressed by this first novel to say the least and I think the praise it is getting is well deserved. The YA book market has become full of mostly the same type of novels so it's refreshing to see something completely new and different and I hope this series, and author, lives up to that.

I give this a 4 out of 5

Author's Website: http://www.rickyancey.com/
Pages: 457
Publisher: Penguin
Challenges: None

Related Reviews: 
Breathe - Sarah Crossan
Wither - Lauren DeStefano
Cinder - Marissa Meyer


  1. This is a very fair review, Rebecca. I loved The Fifth Wave but there have been a lot of mixed reviews.
    I'm really looking forward to reading the next novel in the series. I have to wait a year! *groans*

  2. Well this sounds like a fascinating book! I love the title and cover! Great review. :)

    Ann@Blogging E-books

  3. I LOVE this book! The writing, the twists, the characters, wow! I was blown away by it :) I understand where you're coming from about the romance. They do kiss in about 30 pages! :/ Thanks for the great review, Rebecca. I hope the next book is better for you.


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