Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Nowadays, it's a little hard to find a really original dystopian novel. Sure, there are tons of ways that humankind can possibly die, but after a while, you find that a lot of books of the dystopian genre generally follow a trend: World about to end/has ended, protagonist has to survive, survives. But when you throw in some supernatural elements into it, it certainly does spice things up! Rick Yancey's "The 5th Wave" was released earlier this week, and, I, despite my growing jadedness with the typical dystopian book, decided to give it a go... and found myself thoroughly enjoying it!

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and Cassie, alone in the woods, runs from the Others. The beings who only look human, who roam the country to kill any survivors. Cassie's mantra, to stay alone is to stay alive, has kept her going, until she meets Evan Walker. Evan may be the only hope for rescuing her younger brother Sam, but Cassie faces the ultimate choice: between trust and despair, defiance and surrender, and life and death.

One thing that immediately jumped out at me after reading the first few pages was the incredible narrative voice. Cassie's first-person point of view is witty and conversational, and makes it such a refreshing voice to follow throughout the novel. How she can remain so wry and spunky even when she's facing evil aliens bent on destroying the world is so telling of her strength and character, but at the same time, you get clear hints of how vulnerable she really feels, and that's when you really bond with Cassie and remember that she's just a teenager too. Cassie is unfailingly honest with herself, and it's like you're in her head right there and then as she deals with the dangerous yet thrilling situation she's in. When she meets Evan for the first time and struggles with her warring emotions of attraction and distrust, for example, you actually see her thought process and feel those emotions, and that's what makes her such a real character. If I were stuck in an alien invasion, I'd want Cassie by my side.

Another great thing I liked about "The 5th Wave" was how Mr. Yancey wove together the different points of view of the various characters to create a story that's jam-packed with some intense dramatic irony and tension. The book is separated into several parts, each told from different perspectives. For instance, from Cassie's point of view in the first part, you're transported into the perspective of Ben Parish, aka Cassie's crush back in the normal high school days. I was a little bit confused at first--like, why was Cassie suddenly a 'he'?--until the puzzle pieces fell in place and I went, "oooh". As you follow the seemingly separate journeys of each of the characters, you realize that Mr. Yancey has woven in little discoveries and threads in them, and then when you put two and two together, it hits you all at once. You know that feeling you get when you suspect something about the plot or the characters earlier in the novel, and when it's revealed later on, you feel super accomplished and clever? It's such a gratifying feeling, and there's a lot of that as you read the novel.

The storyline itself of the book is intense from page one, compelling you through the novel in amazing speed. There's so much going on in "The 5th Wave", both physically and emotionally, and you find yourself hooked on what's happening to the characters. I did feel, however, that some parts dragged on a little too much, like things that could've been said in a paragraph were expressed in a couple of pages. I think that if these longer parts were tightened up a bit, it'd only up the tension and make things even more fast-paced, but either way, you're in for a high-speed adventure ride.

Overall, "The 5th Wave" is a gripping dystopian novel with a unique take on an alien invasion, not to mention a refreshing narrative voice and a very cleverly woven storyline. I would definitely recommend this novel to any thrill seekers out there--it's an adventure not to be missed!

Rating: 4.5/5

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