I try to always learn something new whenever I read a book. The biggest lesson I learned in reading The 5th Wave is that a big-name publisher and lots of awards and positive reviews on the back cover does not necessarily guarantee a great book.
I had heard about The 5th Wave for a while, both on Goodreads and here and there. When my wife and I visited a Barnes and Nobles a few weeks back, I saw it featured and picked it up. I read the first few chapters and was hooked. The story is one of alien invasion; the big twist is that you never see the aliens, only their ship flying overhead.
The book talks about attacks on the earth happening in waves. The first wave is an electromagnetic pulse that shuts down all electronic devices, including our entire military, power and transportation. The second wave is a kinetic bomb that results in a tidal wave that destroys those living near the ocean. And so it goes. The aliens continue to attack in waves until by the fourth wave there are few people alive in the world, most of them resorting to living in the wild, constantly looking over their shoulders for the next attack.
So far so good. The story is told from the perspective of teenager Cassie–short for Cassiopeia–who is struggling to survive with her father and her five-year-old brother. The author does a good job of capturing the life and hopes of a teenage girl, especially the bitterness and angst of someone whose normal life has been taken away from them. Yancey has captured the voice well, something I don’t think many male authors can do (heaven knows I have tried!)
But that’s where it falls short. Yancey sets everything up well with plotting and characterization that I can buy into, but then falls into the formulaic approach to writing a YA novel. There’s the boy who got away. And then there’s the second boy, eventually turning it into somewhat of a love triangle. When he gets to the point of revealing the 5th Wave (which I won’t do here), I had already figured out what it was. And so there was somewhat of a letdown for me. And of course, there has to be a big explosion at the end, setting it up for the inevitable Hollywood blockbuster.
The story is entertaining, I will give him that. But after such a good premise and a good beginning, I found it slowing down in the middle and disappointing in the end.
I give it three out of five stars.