Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Fifth Wave

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (2013)

The first wave shut down their lights and electronics and cars. The second wave washed away the coastal cities. The third wave brought sickness. The fourth wave taught the few survivors not to trust anyone. One of those survivors is a teenage girl named Cassie, alone with her guns, fighting to stay alive another day. When a boy named Evan Walker saves her from death she thinks maybe it's time to trust again. Or is it?

The Fifth Wave, for the most part, is very action-packed. Short chapters propel the reader forward making the book quick to devour. The majority of the story is told from Cassie's perspective, but other parts focus on a soldier-in-training named Zombie, and on Cassie's little brother Sammy who was taken from her early in the story. Sammy's chapter didn't add much to the story, but I liked the back-and-forth between Cassie's and Zombie's perspectives.

Without spoiling things, I'll just say that a couple of things didn't make logical sense to me. There are things you find out, but then previous things aren't re-explained in that context so I'm not sure what to make of them. I'm not always the brightest bulb in terms of figuring things out, but this is a young adult book and I should be able to understand it. Which I guess is me saying that the writing could have been better.

I apparently never get tired of dystopias and apocalyptic stories and this falls firmly in that genre so I liked it, but it wasn't an example of the best. The premise was great. I liked the characters, the action, the tension. It wasn't the most original story ever, but in this explosion of apocalyptic fiction that's probably getting more and more difficult. As much as I enjoyed this while I was reading it, it's not really sticking with me. And that's fine. Sometimes you need the literary equivalent of a one-night stand. Which this isn't meant to be - it's the first in a series that I'm not compelled to continue.

Surprisingly, this isn't the first book I've read by Rick Yancey. Several years ago I read his memoir Confessions of a Tax Collector, and only realized partway through The Fifth Wave that it was the same author. They are completely different of course, but I liked his memoir a lot more and remembered it enough to recommend it even years later. The same won't be true for The Fifth Wave, which I'll only recommend to those who have exhausted all the better titles in the genre.

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