Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Review: 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

458 pages Penguin

Sometimes you have to be careful in promoting books/movies to invite comparisons that smell of hyperbole. I have not read Hunger Games, but I read this book which is constantly being suggested as the NEXT hunger games. I have also read “Ender’s game meets The passage,” I mean Penguin really dug deep to market the hell out of this book. Perhaps they thought the connection was based solely on the teenage female lead who has to become a badass to survive. Is that it? What I do know about Hunger Games is a lot of non-readers (as in not serious readers) read those books. Even Lebron James read hunger games at his locker before going on his long awaited first championship run.

I assume those books are well written with strong characters, and that thankfully is the case here with Fifth Wave. Yancey is a gifted story teller, and you can tell this book was well guided by strong editors and publisher support.

The story centers around a teen named Cassie and her little brother Sam as they try to survive the various waves of alien attack. 1st wave EMP knocks out electronics, 2nd wave earthquakes kills massive populations on the shore lines. 3rd wave population die-off in the form of bird flu. 4th and 5th waves well that you don't want spoiled.

It is not a super original story, but it is hard after 100 plus years of alien invasion novels and movies to be fresh. So what! It was fun and engaging, and the characters were strong enough to hook me. If I have one complaint it is starting the book during the 4th wave. Aliens showing up and the start of an invasion is a pretty interesting set of events to skip and peppered in with flashbacks. Falling Skies did the same thing. Spielberg's peeps said they did it, because the alien invasion story has been done to death and their story is about survival and resistance. 5th wave has a similar excuse I am sure, but I am OK with tropes as long as you bring a fresh spin.

I liked most of the writing, but as writer and nitpicker I do have to complain about the choice of First person. Sure, sure that means we assume Cassie will survive. She is telling the story after all. Then the first person narrator switches from chapter to chapter. I got confused a few times whose story I was following. Whose story is this book telling? It is a personal pet peeve but the problem for me is this takes me out of the story and constantly reminds me “hey the author is doing this , or that” I don't want to be reminded that the wizard is behind the curtain pulling levers.

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