The 5th Wave: review

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Rating:5 out of 5 stars
Release Date:
May 7, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC provided by publisher

If you could buy just one book this year, The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey should be at the top of your list. I’m just going to say it: this book could very well be the next Hunger Games! I’ve never seen a book more likely to be a crowd-pleaser, nor one with more potential to sweep away a legion of fans. This book was so crazily addictive that I read it in literally half a day, and several months afterwards I am still jazzed over its edge-of-your-seat action.

On the surface, you’ve seen this story before: post-apocalyptic survival story, a butt-kicking girl separated from a loved one, and boys who can’t always be trusted. Aliens have taken over the planet, with massive, widespread attacks in various different forms, including electromagnetic impulses and pestilence. 17-year-old Cassie is doing everything she can to survive in a world she no longer recognizes, and she’s dead set on finding the little brother that was taken away from her.

What makes this story awesome, and elevates it above many other action-oriented novels, is really the writing–taut plotting, a strong narrative voice, snarky humor, and a masterful feeling of grim tension that can only be relieved if you turn the pages fast enough.

I am a shark who dreamed he was a man…

Things I love: Cassie is a sarcastic, flawed heroine determined to keep her promise. Evan and Ben are both intriguing male leads. A well-constructed story with interesting disaster scenarios and insidious enemies. There are believable successful multiple female/male POVs, as well as a less common setting, in Cincinnati, Ohio. A handful of brief but fantastically chilling scenes. The succinct writing style suits this type of story, but it’s also descriptive and touched with occasional beauty.

A few quibbles: The scenes from Sammy’s POV didn’t really do much for me, and the romantic parts could have been more complex. (That kiss happened way too soon, Mr. Yancey. But I forgive you because Cassie knows it, too.)

The twists also aren’t entirely unexpected, but they are so well done it won’t even matter. My hope is that the sequels will ratchet up the tension, raise the stakes, show us MORE ALIENS, and will more deeply explore these characters. I’d also love it if the terror and horror are intensified, with the kind of subtle creepiness we see in the prologue. But really, who wouldn’t be terrified seeing something like this zipping across the sky chasing after you?

We watched the night sky. The mothership would stare down at us, a pale green malevolent eye.

Download the first 54 pages of the book and prepare to get hooked on the next big YA novel. Strongly recommended for fans of Angelfall, Partials, and other smart post-apocalyptic/dystopian YA books featuring strong heroines.

Of all the would-be successors to the phenomenon that is The Hunger Games, this is the first one I’ve seen that truly has the potential to be a worthy heir to the YA throne. Reading this book was an exciting experience in and of itself, and it’s going to be even more exciting to watch people go nuts as they discover this series.

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