THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey (Penguin Group, 2013)

11 Dec

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GENRE: Science Fiction/Fantasy

HONORS: Red House children’s book award, 2014, Notable Children’s Books, The New York Times

REVIEW: The first wave, the aliens arrive. By the third, an ebola-like plague wipes out some 6 billion people. And the 5th wave is the worst, as aliens, who’ve taken over human bodies finish off the remaining humans on the planet they so desperately want for their own. Cassie Sullivan is one of the few remaining survivors. Tough as nails, she’s got one thing in mind in this brutal landscape: save her young brother Sammy, who has been taken to facility that trains young kids to be killers. As she struggles to find Sammy, Cassie is shot by a Silencer, a mercenary alien meant to track down and kill humans. Yet, somehow she survives, saved by Evan Walker, a teen who’s also lost his family and is also alone. Evan nurses her back to health and falls in love with her. But who is he really and can Cassie trust him? Together they search for Sammy and along the way run into Ben, a classmate of Cassie’s who she’s always secretly liked. Times are different and they band together to fight the aliens and escape with Sammy. They get out just in time. But where are they going to go?

OPINION: The 5th Wave uses all the tricks and twists books like The Hunger Games and Divergent have established, and pushes them to an even more satisfying alien invasion level. Told in alternating chapters between Cassie and Ben’s perspectives, we’re taken on a gruesome ride to an enemy that’s foggy and mysterious—and looks just like us. This troubling fact sets up the core horror of the story: we are the enemy. Cassie, like Katniss and Tris, is brains and brawn, with a side of lovestruckness that gives her a softer, more approachable side. The end of the story, with Cassie, Ben, and Evan escaping with Sammy, sets up a love triangle and trilogy that every reader will be waiting breathlessly to read more about. Yancey is a good writer—and a better marketer. The 5th Wave is already slated for a movie release in 2016.

IDEAS: The alien invasion genre has a second coming with this book, and it would be interesting to read it in conjunction with the first “wave” of alien invasion books like Invasion of the Body Snatchers which has a similar, yet less dystopian premise.

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