I almost didn’t pick up this book. Generally, I’m not really a big fan of alien-apocalyptic scenarios. I guess I prefer my literature to focus on human interactions rather than third parties that I don’t identify with, such as extra-terrestrials, zombies, etc. That being said, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, while not revolutionizing my opinion of the genre as a whole, definitely piqued my interest in it. I now find myself much more willing to peruse books of the sort, but only if they are as well written as The 5th Wave.
Here’s the breakdown: At some point in the near future a spaceship suddenly appears above the earth. At first nothing happens, but then the (still unseen) aliens begin to attack. There are several waves of attacks until 16-year-old Cassie finds herself alone in the woods with only the promise she made to her little brother keeping her company.
What was a bit confusing, but super awesome, about this book was all the point of view shifts. Yancey uses several characters to tell the story, but you’re kind of left to guess who is narrating at the beginning of each section. It’s pretty easy to figure out a couple pages in, but at first you are just reading with no real picture in your head of the person talking or where they are. I thought it played into the overall theme of uncertainty in the book really well. It’s kind of chaotic for the reader and it helps get you into the same state of mind as the characters.
Speaking of the characters, they are great. All of them. Really. Yancey is an undiscovered master of character development in my humble opinion. Even Nugget, who is very young when the book takes place, is incredibly well developed. I’m a total sucker for good characters. Yancey is J.K. Rowling and Vosch is Snape. Which side is he on? I don’t know!
I was constantly questioning myself too. At first I was all, “I totally know who the bad guys are”. But then I was like “Wait, those are the bad guys?”. And then I was super confused and decided I didn’t know who the bad guys were. I love that in books. The 5th Wave keeps you guessing the whole way through and you are consistently changing your mind. It’s probably best to stay away from making assumptions at all when it comes to this writer.
Another thing I greatly appreciated about the way Yancey approached this book was that it had many science fiction elements (obviously, aliens, duh), but without being too out there. He managed to make the aliens a very natural and unforced part of the story. I have not experienced that very often in my brief forays into science fiction literature.
I am thoroughly ready for the next book in the series to come out.