The Fifth Wave–Rick Yancey (May 2013)

*NOTE–I read an advance uncorrected proof of The Fifth Wave.  It was released on May 5th.*16101128

First, they wiped out the electrical grid.  Next, the oceans rose and destroyed the coasts.  Then came plague–the Red Death.  Finally, the Silencers.  What do the Others have planned for the 5th Wave?  Cassie Sullivan doesn’t know; she doesn’t even know if there are any other humans left to fight with her.  But what she does know is that if her little brother Sammy is alive, she must do everything she can to fulfill her promise and find him.

Thoughts– As I said on FB yesterday, HOLY SMOKES.  When I got to the end of The Fifth Wave, I felt such relief–not because I didn’t like it or I was in such a hurry to get to the end, but because I was so tense the entire time I was reading.  The tautness of this sci-fi/thriller is incredible; I read the entire last 2/3 of the book in one sitting and when I finished, I shut the cover and just sat there for a moment trying to relax.  Yancey’s plot moves along at a rapid fire pace, and you care so much about the fate of the characters that you just turn the pages as fast as you can. (I know some of you are all, “Lauren, I know you flipped to the end.  YOU ALWAYS DO.  And it’s true; I did…but honestly, it didn’t slow me down much this time around!)

I was really surprised by how emotional I felt during my reading; maybeit was getting to see the story from the different main characters’ POVs as Yancey alternates between three or four different narrators/perspectives, maybe it was that I was just so worried about 5 year old Sammy because I kept thinking of my 5 year old, or maybe it was that the book is just that good, but I felt like I was on the verge of tears the entire time.  I don’t typically read a lot of sci-fi (Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow being the exception) and I didn’t expect to get that connected to the storyline and the characters, but I totally did.  I was incredibly invested in Cassie’s relationship with the mysterious Evan Walker and in her search for Sammy, and I hope Yancey continues at the same pace for the rest of the series.  I also think that my connection to this particular story had to do with the overtones of Ender’s Game and The Hunger Games that I saw in The Fifth Wave.  The child soldiers and their training paralleled Card’s Battle School, and Cassie’s determination, grit, and sheer desire to SURVIVE reminded me so much of Katniss.  I found these echoes not to be derivative, rather they just reminded me what was great about those two books and how Yancey was taking familiar sci-fi tropes to a different place.

While I found The Fifth Wave to be an riveting book, I did have two kind of major issues–the use of present tense and the conclusion.  I understand why authors use the present tense; it ratchets up the tension by making the action totally immediate for both the characters and the reader, and it creates an intense narrative pace.  I JUST DON’T LIKE IT.  I feel like I’m sitting watching that part of the Oscars where they’re giving out the award for screenwriting, and they do that bit wherein they read part of the script aloud and show it on the screen.  Few are the present tense books that don’t feel like movie scripts to me, and this book wasn’t one of them.  My other issue (and my friends who have also read it feel the same) is the ending.  I know a series has to have a set up, and the conclusion of the first book has to lead into the next one, blah blah blah.  I just didn’t like it.  I thought it was too tidy and too quick…just not my style.

Another important thing for some of y’all–I thought this book was SCARY.  Like, I read it during the daytime and read something else at night.  I’m a wuss, yes, but if you are too, be advised.  You might also go check out www.thefifthwaveiscoming.com; it’s pretty cool.

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