Book: Rick Yancey’s ‘The 5th Wave’ – “Just because there are alternatives doesn’t mean they apply to you”

‘The 5th Wave’ is young adult science fiction but passable as adult fiction. The two things that gave away that it was aimed at a YA audience were the ages of the narrators and the fact that no one was raped.

Cassie Sullivan is 16 years old and is horribly aware that the waves of alien invasion have killed most of human race – with those who are left having survived mostly by losing their humanity. No one can be trusted and your gun is your best friend.

She is however still looking for her brother Sammy and this is the main feature of the plot. There are multiple Points of View and other side plots, but fundamentally it is the story of a girl trying to find her younger brother and dragging his teddy bear through hell to do so.

the 5th wave

I don’t consider myself a science-fiction enthusiast, I’ve had no exposure to ‘Star Trek’ apart from the two newest films, I am mildly entertained by the original ‘Star Wars’ films, I found ‘Falling Skies’ too bleak to bother with, forced myself to finish the first season of ‘The 100’ and now try to avoid anything featuring time travel (a direct result of the ‘Black Swan Rising’ sequels).

However it turned out that ‘The 5th Wave’ had concurringly little science-fiction in it, yes there are aliens but it is fundamentally a dystopian future book where the bad guy is almost incidental.

Cassie is a decent enough character; she’s a teenage girl in a tight spot and is appropriately sarcastic, scared or brave when the situation requires it. There are other POV in the book and these add to the wider view of the world but fundamentally it is Cassie’s story – although I think Ringer could end up being the most interesting character in the series.

The Infinite Sea

It does feel like the book was written with either a film or TV adaptation in mind, the pacing is there and the characters are just about developed enough provoke empathy but still be open to a script writer’s interpretation. Naturally as it is a dystopian young adult book there is a film adaptation on the way!

I finished the book in an evening because I wanted to know where it went and it was ok overall. But I did start skimming the end to the point where I did miss some details – for example I can’t remember than name of the kid that died, I can narrow it down to “one of the disposable ones” but I can’t remember which exact one it was…

There is nothing wrong with the book as a one off – although it is not strong enough that I would keep in my nice new house (I’m being very selective as my darling spouse has got enough clutter for all of us). A sequel doesn’t need necessary, but I’ve been lent it so I will probably read it!

Spoiler: For those who care, the first wave was an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) which knocked out all technology, 2nd wave was a tidal wave, 3rd wave was a plague, 4th wave was alien-infected humans killing humans. The 5th wave is basically indoctrinated child soldiers killing humans.

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