Rick Yancey creates a world where trust is a luxury and the ability to kill is a must. His book, The 5th Wave, tells a tale of an alien invasion. Four prior alien waves have reduced human population to the bare minimum. The book follows Cassie Sullivan and her family as they go through the four waves and builds in anticipation toward the firth attack. We see the weight of the world dropped on teenage shoulders as Cassie tries to survive on her own and keep humanity’s last hopes alive. However, this is not an ordinary alien invasion.
“Forget about flying saucers and little green men and giant mechanical spiders spitting out death rays. Forget about epic battles with tanks and fighter jets and the final victory of us scrappy, unbroken, intrepid humans over the bug-eyed swarm. That’s about as far from the truth as their dying planet was from our living one.
The truth is, once they found us, we were toast.”
Cassie Sullivan begins the novel as an ordinary teenager. Enchanted by her high school crush, Ben Parrish, she spends her time wondering if he notices her, fantasizing how their first kiss will be, and scribbling about him on her journal. The arrival of the Others, as she calls them, turns her world upside down. Now she must evolve into a roughened survivor as Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest takes over the world.
Yancey’s alien invasion is unlike ones you would see in the movies, where the invaders attack with space ships and laser beams. The attack comes from within. What better way to exterminate the human race than by making it devour itself? How do you fight an enemy who looks just like you? Having inserted themselves in human minds and waking as sleeper agents, the Others are now unleashed to hunt down the remaining humans and complete the cleansing of Earth. But with aliens with human bodies killing humans who can you trust?
Cassie finds out quickly that no one can be trusted in this new world if she is to survive. Her goal is not to fight the invader, but to live another day. The only thing that keeps her from giving up in this doomed world is her little brother Sammy, whom is taken to an undisclosed facility by ‘the ones in charge.’ Fearing the worst, Cassie sets out on a quest to find and return to her little brother. To do this, she must transform herself from an innocent teenager who only thinks about high school and boys to an instinctual killer who hunts for survival. If Cassie Sullivan is to survive this alien invasion and rescue her brother she must become a lethal human force.
“I might be—no, I probably am—doomed.
But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way.”
The book also follows Zombie, an older teenager boy, who has shared a past with Cassie yet it unaware of that she is still alive. Zombie is a soldier in the resistance, and it is through his eyes that we see what life in the barracks is like. He is told that he is the instrument of revenge rather than of salvation as he is chiseled into an alien killing machine. He is then tasked to take a group of children and hunt down the alien invaders. But these warriors are unable to tell friend and foe apart. Zombie’s experiences make us question why are children being trained for war? And why was Cassie Sullivan left to survive on her own rather than conscripted into this forming army? These are many of the questions that this fascinating novel takes on as it reaches its epic conclusion.
Although the novel has themes of doom and hopelessness, Yancey is able to squeeze some humor into the book’s pages. The reader is able to dive into Cassie’s mind, which has not lost its sense of humor even in the most catastrophic of events. He also incorporates romance into the young-adult novel. The romance comes at a time in the story where it is needed. It has interesting implications for Cassie as well and helps the story forward. Yancey’s use of flashbacks also adds an interesting feel to the novel as we learn what occurred before, during, and after the alien arrival.
Rick Yancey has created a catastrophic world with an every-man-for-himself scenario, but is still be able to keep a hopeful tone throughout the novel. His characters keep the story and humanity alive through the pages. Yancey is able to bring out humanity’s most innocent members of society, children, and bring them to the forefront as humanity’s last stand. After all social order, governments, and adults fail children pick up the mantle for humanity. Though The 5th Wave is the first in a trilogy, it is a novel where light shines in the horizon after a cold and savage night. It reestablishes hope where despair has taken over and trust where deceit has grown. For all of you sci-fi dystopian lovers I would highly recommend this book. It incorporates different elements such as romance, humor, action, and adventure in a roller coaster of words. Rick Yancey delivers a fast-paced novel that will keep you turning the pages and promises more to come.
Rick Yancey’s website: http://www.rickyancey.com/
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey: http://www.amazon.com/The-5th-Wave-Rick-Yancey/dp/0399162410