Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tea Time: The 5th Wave

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey

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 on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. (source:goodreads)

Cover-I kind of love the dual-tones and how it's used to convey light and dark. Symbolic? Probably. The point is that it stands out, thanks to the fact that it's either really bright or really dark; the bold contrast just kind of drew my eye, particularly to the center: girl (who's in shadow so you can't see her very well, which I kind of love) and title. And the more you look at it, the more you see the city in the background, then the smoke, then the fact that the girl is walking away from the audience and not toward them.

Okay, maybe I'm looking way too far into it, but I love covers like this that make me want to stare at them for ages until I see everything there is to see. There's no real word I can use to describe it, but hey, maybe it's just me.


Narrative-This was really interesting for me, another of those books that made me really study the way the author was using narrative. The book is told in both third person and first person POV. The first person encapsulates Cassie's POV and also another character who you learn to call "Zombie" (he actually has a real name, and I love the way it ties together). The third person POV, if memory serves, shows up once, in the span of just a few pages, under a third character. It's the only time we're ever in his POV, but it really helps to tie in details later (as in when I figured it out I was giddy with smugness).

Cassie's voice is fantastic. She's sharp and sarcastic, nostalgic, extremely sad, but also capable of looking forward and realizing there might be a chance, which all showed through really well in word choice and the tangents she went off on. Her humanness is captured extremely well, in my opinion; it was never a dull moment from her perspective, and when the novel shifted to Zombie I was always a little bit eager to get back to this girl.

Zombie was a bit different, which I would blame simply on the fact that he's in a much different situation than Cassie. It was kind of wonderful because, through him there's this aspect of, Huh?, where, as the reader, I was really trying to decipher what was happening in the novel as a whole through his perspective.

I might have delved slightly into character, here, but oh well. Bottom line is that I think Yancey did a good job with telling a story through the eyes of two people who were in widely different situations, with widely different perspectives on what was happening around them, while also capturing the voice of teenagers well (which I feel like I can say because I am, technically, still a teenager).

I also want to point out the way in which Yancey gave us the history of Earth's past few months (well, Cassie's back story, at least) and he somehow made it not be an info-dump. I'm still trying to decipher how he did it, but seriously. Wow. I'd give him an applause.


Plot-Alien invasions are some of my favorite things to read about. Not conspiracy theories or anything, but one of my favorite shows is "Falling Skies" and one of my favorite movies is "Independence Day." So I had really high standards for this book.

The plot centers around two things: Cassie is trying to save her little brother, Sammy, who she last saw on a bus on his way to a safe zone, and the mysterious "5th Wave." As far as the alien's attempt at eradicating human life on earth, the "Waves" were pretty interesting, and include an electromagnetic pulse that took out anything electronic (electricity, transport, phones, iPods, etc), and goes as far as a disease that kills anybody who catches it (which is most people). The 4th wave has already hit, so the question remains: what's the 5th and final weapon that the alien invaders are using?

I have to admit, it was diabolical. It's easiest to figure out through the eyes of Zombie, and I admit that most of what was happening on his end was me going: "Okay, there's something really bad about to happen, and there's something really wrong about all of this. But what is it?" There's definitely clues everywhere; as the reader, you're the one trying to figure it all out before the big reveal, and it's one of those things that made me constantly doubt myself because it's simple yet complex at the same time and my brain was practically folding in on itself trying to get it all straightened out.

Like mysteries? You'll probably enjoy trying to figure this one out.

On the other end of the plot spectrum is Cassie, trying to get to her brother, which involves staying out of sight of alien drones, other people, and the feared "silencers" whose only purpose is to kill the humans. Then she meets Evan, and she's trying to figure out if he's one of them or one of the humans, both of which could get her killed. So there's another mystery, but on her end is the more "survivalist" notion that draws me to many books: on her own, doesn't even know how to shoot a gun properly, trying to survive.

Overall, it was slow at points, but a pretty good thriller-type of book.


Characters-Back to characters. I already gave kind of a low-down on Cassie and Zombie (sorry, my bad; go back up to the Narrative section if you need another read).

Basically: I loved Cassie. Like, I wanted to be her best friend. Her insights that were written in her "diary" felt real and true, and that's sort of what drew me in. Then, when she meets Evan, there's all these little clues that surround them, and you want to yell at her because it's so obvious, but again her humanness shows through: there's some things that she doesn't want to believe, because she can't tear the one good thing that's happened to her away.

Zombie was a little more "eh" on my end, but I honestly couldn't put it into words on my end. Personal tastes? That "eh" is definitely not on Yancey, though. He's just as well portrayed as Cassie was, and just as well-rounded with his own history and what the initial Waves of the alien invasion were like. He's made mistakes that he'll never have a chance to make right, and while there's that moment of "he's an ass" and "how the hell could he manage to do that?" I couldn't make myself hate him because he obviously felt a tremendous amount of guilt. And I mean, hey, it's human nature. Fight or flight, y'know? Anybody can criticize him for what he did and say they'd act differently, but the fact is that once you're in the middle of a situation you really don't know how you're going to act. That's a point that I really liked about Zombie; he's the one who, in hindsight, made the wrong decision.

Evan: he's such a mystery. I kept trying to figure him out over and over again, believing one thing and then another, and there were times when I was just like, "oh, who cares, he's the perfect guy!" Other side characters include Dr. Pam (I guess she's a side character; she's recognizable, I guess), Vosch, Ringer (I seriously kind of loved her), Cassie's dad, and then Sammy/Nugget. Since it's a survivalist sort of book, it really does make sense that there's not a lot of characters, and I'm glad that the character list is overall kept short.


To end this thing, I'm going to quote myself. This is my exact reaction to finishing the book, and as usual I apologize for cursing:

Yes, Rick Yancey, you did that to me. And that's really hard to do, because it means that I was more invested in a book than I originally thought, so that last and final page came as a legitimate shock.

Good thing the sequel comes out in September.

Final Answer: 4.25 / 5


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