There isn’t much to say about Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave that hasn’t been said before, about The Hunger Games or Divergent, The Maze Runner or The Age of Miracles, The Host or Station Eleven. Unsung hero teen becomes front-and-center protagonist in the wake of a world-ending catastrophe. Family and friends are lost, heroic survival efforts are embarked upon, challenges are faced, romances are forged. Things end inconclusively, not simply because such is the way of the post-apocalyptic world, where there are no guarantees, except that at least one of your fellow survivors is likely to be an attractive potential soulmate. Things end inconclusively because there has to be something left for the sequel.It should surprise zero people that T5W kept cropping up in my Amazon recommendations—for all the same reasons The OC keeps pushing itself at me on Netflix (like, back up Seth Cohen! I’ll watch when I’m good and ready-slash-bored). The 2013 novel, whose sequel was released in 2014 and third/final volume comes out in May, is already a big-budget movie starring a slew of wholesome-looking teenagers, plus also Liev Schreiber. T5W takes place in the wake of alien invasion: A mothership has been hovering above earth for years, unleashing wave after wave of human-race-extinguishing catastrophes, from natural disaster to disease. Those who remain are true survivors, and yet remain perpetually felled by the distrust The Others have sowed between them. Who is good? Who is dangerous? Who is human? You know, typical first-date questions.
Plucky Cassie Sullivan is a humdrum 16-year-old with a crush on a boy she’s never talked to—and then the aliens arrive, and the havoc they wreak on the planet crystallizes in her a certain badassness that will feel familiar to fans of Katniss Everdeen. Cassie, like Katniss, has a certain flair for survival, but her demons haunt her, and make it difficult for her to trust the attractive young man who rescues her from a snowstorm…(see: Hot Survivor Guarantee).
Every time I read a young adult dystopian novel, I say it’ll be the last. Surely, I tell myself, I have better things to do than explore the intricacies of another fictional romance between three traumatized high school juniors. Surely I have reached my limit for considering the myriad ways in which humans will ultimately become jerks (but also sometimes awesome) in the aftermath of a partial armageddon. But then another book crops up in my field of vision—at the bookstore or on Amazon, from a friend’s recommendation or, obviously, at the movie theater. YAD novels are like Sex and the City episodes: You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all….But it doesn’t make it any less easy to accidentally watch six in a row over a bottle of wine one Tuesday.
TITLE: The 5th Wave
AUTHOR: Rick Yancey
PAGES: 457 (in paperback)
ALSO WROTE: The Infinite Sea (#2), The Monstrumologist
SORTA LIKE: The Host meets The Dog Stars meets The Passage
FIRST LINE: “Aliens are stupid.”