My latest venture into post-apocalyptic science fiction was The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Unlike most post-apocalyptic stories I’ve read where the scenario is created through nuclear attacks, terrorism, or some other human-induced event, an alien invasion is the basis for this one. Well, it’s not a full scale alien invasion, but one which starts in a somewhat innocent fashion and proceeds in waves that are increasingly more destructive and insidious in their methods.
The book focuses on Cassie Sullivan who is a young teenage girl who has survived into the 4th wave of the alien invasion. She’s managed to make it through a series of lucky breaks, or in her words, an unfortunate series of events. In other words, living in the 4th wave is not all roses. It’s a lonely existence as the aliens have sown an air of fear among the survivors where they cannot tell the difference between humans and aliens. No one can be trusted and life has degraded into an “every man for himself” situation. What has kept Cassie going to this point is a desire to find and reunite herself with her younger brother Sam.
While the book starts out during the 4th wave, Yancey does a good job of using flashbacks to piece in all of the details leading up to the present, including what happened to Cassie and her family. He also explains how Cassie becomes separated from her younger brother Sam and why she is so determined to find him. At the same time, Yancey introduces other characters into the story. Even though they are secondary characters to Cassie, he does an excellent job developing them and weaving them into the story arc. If you are wondering why the book is called the 5th wave, Yancey brings the characters and various sub-plots he introduces together at the climax of the book, where he also introduces the 5th wave. It’s well done and a great job of character development and story telling.
I found the book to be very well written with character development as one of its strengths. Yancey does a great job developing the characters and attaching you to them. Unfortunately, for me, it was also one of the book’s downsides. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all implying that the book isn’t good, it’s just that the book had a slower pace than I would have liked while Yancey developed the characters. It pays off at the end as I felt a strong emotional attachment to the characters, but it took a while to get there. Bottom line, the pace of the book was slower than I would have liked, but this is a personal preference. You may walk away with a completely different opinion after reading it, which is evident by the overwhelmingly positive reviews the book has received on Amazon.
While The 5th Wave didn’t make my list of Must Reads, I’d put it in the same category as Brilliance and Wired. In other words, it’s a good, well written, entertaining read. Should you decide to pick it up, you won’t be disappointed.
By the way, it’s also worth noting that the book is the first of a planned trilogy, of which the second book, Infinite Sea, is available. So, if you enjoy the premise and characters in The 5th Wave, you’ll have an opportunity to continue following them through two more books.