Rick Yancey’s book, The 5th Wave, has been positively reviewed by many readers and its film adaption is one of the signs on how the market has received this science fiction thriller book.
The book is marketed for young adults, age 14 and up, telling the story of a suburban teenager named Cassie Sullivan and her quest to find and save her brother, Sam, after their parents died during an apocalypse.
The 5th Wave has plenty of familiar themes but its plot and the way it has captured its target readers sets this book apart from others in the genre. Post-apocalyptic themes are all too common but beautifully written books for young adults are more rare.
Let’s tackle the plot first. Life in suburban Ohio is quite normal for Cassie when one day, a giant metal slab, signaling an alien invasion arrived, is seen floating right off their street. There are no alien character per se and instead they are the called the “Others”. From that day on, waves of destruction propel the world into a pre-industrial stage.
The first wave is an electromagnetic pulse that destroys buildings and other structures that symbolize modernity–skyscrapers, landmarks, power, etc. Then the alien “ship” crushes into a fault line, prompting a global tsunami. Third wave is an avian virus that wipes out the population. The fourth wave involves the Others using human bodies as hosts. The fifth wave is signaled with the training of child soldiers–humans killing humans.
After Cassie’s parents are killed, she sets off to find her brother. The last time Cassie saw him, he was taken onto a bus. Other major characters in the story are Ben, Cassie’s crush and Evan, a hunky mysterious guy she met in the woods.
What makes this book a good read? The book has plenty of familiar characters and themes. It talks about trust as humans hunt Others who are using human bodies as hosts. Cassie’s rescue mission symbolizes the innate human bond between families.
The inclusion of a romantic story line seems vital in young adult fiction these days. And from Cassie’s undelivered devotion to Ben, to her blossoming relationship with Evan, there is plenty of romance all around.
There are also some dark emotions, ranging from guilt to the characters’ beliefs that the end justifies the means. This is especially vividly portrayed by Ben’s character. Yancey effectively built his characters to reflect the minds and emotions of young adults, and offers his readers something different than the typical Twilight or Hunger Game-like books.
The 5th Wave is appealing and a definite page turner. Compared to other YA books, it is less gory but at the same time has some mature themes, such as a teenager carrying an M-16. To me, it’s no surprise that this novel has been adopted into a movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson.
Sunny Dawn is a contributor at http://www.freelancehouse.co.uk/.
This review is based on a personal copy of the book. No review copy was provided.