Wednesday, August 28, 2013
"The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey
Hunger Games' Katniss + male version of Prim + a Gale who doesn't know Katniss + Twilight's Edward Cullen = new hit YA dystopian
But, though I think The 5th Wave is certainly derivative from the boom in the YA dystopian genre and thus the books that came before it, it's also engaging, action-packed, and a lot of fun.
The book takes place in the time period following the Others' attack on earth. In the 1st Wave, they knocked out all the power (ala the TV show Revolution); in the 2nd Wave, they flooded anywhere near the coast; in the 3rd Wave, they used birds to carry a deadly virus; and in the 4th Wave, they revealed themselves living inside human bodies (ala Stephenie Meyers' The Host, a book which also has significant similarities with the novel). Now, few humans remain, among them Cassie, who's alone and on the run.
Cassie's narration makes up the first hundred pages (nearly a quarter of the novel), and it's through her flashbacks that we learn about the Others' invasion and the first through fourth waves. Cassie's an easy protagonist to root for, and the worldbuilding is interesting without being overwhelming.
After those first hundred pages, the book begins alternating points of view, and also--I thought--got somewhat weaker. It's jarring to go from Cassie to include her high school crush, Ben Parrish; her little brother, Sammy; and mysterious hunk Evan Walker. Their viewpoints give necessary insight into the larger picture, but their views are also more predictable.
The romance (?) between Cassie and Evan was also rough. Edward--um, sorry, I mean Evan--is gorgeous and understanding and perfect and, oh, gorgeous. And he smells like chocolate. But fortunately Cassie isn't Bella, and she maintains a healthy distrust of him and a healthy reaction to his annoyingly perfect persona. Yancey is also smart enough to portray stalking as creepy, not romantic. Nonetheless, their scenes together were always a bit too much for me.
But, like I said earlier, the actions comes quick, and there's tons of violence and gore for those needing the post-Hunger Games fix. Interesting that we've definitely reached a point where kids as young as seven killing other people is normal stuff.
Ultimately, what separated The 5th Wave from Hunger Games is that it's about the fact that humanity will always come together--even when it's most dangerous for us to do so--while Hunger Games continually isolates its protagonist. It's a more hopeful message, maybe, even amongst the carnage.