The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Rating: 3.25 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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."
Review: Before I even started reading this book I referred to it as my X-Files book. I mean, just look at the cover. The font, the forest, the shadows, the high contrast of the image, the lone figure in the center... it just screams X-Files.
Turns out I wasn't too far off. The 5th Wave tells the story of Cassie, a human girl living in the midst of an alien takeover. (Totally X-Files material.) The first 80-ish pages recap the first four waves of the alien takeover and the rest of the book details Cassie's inner conflict between deciphering what's real in this quiet and confusing extraterrestrial invasion, keeping her promises to people who may not even be alive, determining what makes her human, and deciding to fight a war that has already been lost.
After a significant number of pages into the book we are introduced to a new perspective, as we begin to see this terrifying new world through the eyes of Ben, a boy with whom Cassie went to high school, and who has also survived the first four waves. Ben's sections and Cassie's sections are quite different, and don't connect until quite late in the book. I preferred reading Ben's sections, since Cassie's sections were much slower, and featured an extremely eyebrow-raising romance. (Not because it was risque - it wasn't. It just was spectacularly implausible. Even in a world that embraces implausible things. I didn't buy it.) Ben's sections, while much more intense and compelling, felt very Ender's Game to me. It was intriguing and harrowing and at times surprising, but it didn't feel very original.
That is, until about page 400. Up until this point the book maintained a chilling and nail-biting tone of suspense, but rarely anything more. Then, all of a sudden, after a relatively slow burn, the fire hit the gas and things exploded. I was absolutely hooked as a few revelations wholly shocked and thrilled me, and completely flew through the gripping final scene.
Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, for me. I loved the ending, but it took too long to get there. I'm glad I read it, as I don't usually reach for books featuring aliens, and I'm trying to expand my pool of genres I read from. I did not know this was the start to a series when I started reading it, and I didn't even realize it was part of a series when I finished. I mean that as a compliment. There were plenty of things left open, and I can easily see how a sequel could be written, but this book had a clear hook, rising action, climax, and conclusion. That cannot be said for every book written as part of a series. I'm glad for the sense of closure I felt. I would recommend it to those who are looking for a spine-tingling sci-fi, but probably not to those who don't like sci-fi to begin with. If you read it and loved it, you're in good company! There are many other book bloggers who loved it as well. I'm afraid this one fell just a little short for me, though.