Published: 7th May 2013 by Penguin
Format: Paperback, 460 pages
Genres: Post Apocalyptic
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The 1st Wave took out half a million people.
The 2nd Wave put that number to shame.
The 3rd Wave lasted a little longer, twelve weeks... four billion dead.
In the 4th Wave, you can't trust that people are still people.
And the 5th Wave? No one knows. But it's coming.
On a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs. Runs from the beings that only look human, who have scattered Earth's last survivors.
To stay alone is to stay alive, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope.
Now Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.
The 5th Wave is an enjoyable action adventure story set amongst a terrifying alien invasion. While the premise and world building of the novel are great, it is let down by some of its characters and its nonsensical romances.
Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.
Told mainly in dual point of view, The 5th Wave follows Cassie as she struggles to survive all alone in a world controlled by aliens. The first part of the novel is told from her point of view, chronicling how she ended up alone, fighting for her life. She thinks she might be the only human left in the area, maybe even the country. Frightened and desperate, she’s making her way up a highway when she’s shot by a sniper, and then rescued by Evan Walker. Our other protagonist is Ben, a classmate of Cassie’s who has been infected with an alien virus and expects to die, when he is rescued by the human military and trained up to fight the aliens.
I liked Cassie because of her bravery and strength, I think she’s a brilliant protagonist. She is independent and stubborn, she thinks her actions through and battles her depression with a wry sense of humour. But I don’t agree with the way the author chose to manipulate her situation so ended up alone – it’s highly unlikely that any parent would act the way her father did. I also really like Evan Walker, with his conflicted agony and his mysterious past. I found it harder to relate to Ben, but he grew on me as the book went on.
Now, the romance. Ben spends a lot of time reminiscing about his glory days before the alien invasion, when he was the jock at school and could get any girl he wanted. I know his hormones were probably working in overdrive after the prolonged absence of female companionship, but the way he fell over himself to be with the first girl in his squad was absolutely ridiculous. Sadly, even this was preferable to Cassie’s instant attraction to Evan – she readily admits that she trusts him because of his good looks. Evan has a tendency to stand at doors and breathe heavily (lurking, Cassie calls it, as if it’s not a warning sign of psychotic behaviour) and it soon becomes clear that Evan is hiding something from her, but neither of these deter her from making out with him on his dead sister’s bed. In fact, even when she thinks he might have been involved in her shooting, Cassie doesn’t leave or confront Evan. Maybe she was confused by his chocolate-y eyes and his big, soft hands *rolling of the eyes*.
The staggering of the alien invasion into deadly waves is an interesting idea, and I loved uncovering what the previous waves were and speculating on what was to come. I think the world building is solid, but I would have liked a little more information on why the aliens had to leave their home,why they chose Earth, and what they intend to do once the humans are out of the way. I guess this will be explained in the future books. I did, however, find it all rather predictable. At about the 50% mark, I had an idea of where the story was going, and I was right on all accounts. Which dampened my enjoyment of the second half, because I wasn’t surprised by any of the ‘big reveals’.
The 5th Wave is definitely a wonderful read and a thrilling adventure, but nothing like what it’s hyped up to be. While it’s bleak, it’s not The Hunger Games, like the marketing suggests, and while Cassie is certainly great, but she’s not Katniss. I liked the book for what it is, and what it isn’t, and I’m looking forward to figuring out the rest of the story in the forthcoming books.