The 5th Wave — Not Your Average Little Green Men

evan walker

It’s such a great experience to discover you enjoy something you normally wouldn’t have considered. For example, I wouldn’t normally pick up a book about an alien invasion… and yet, I couldn’t put Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave down!

The varying points of view add a certain dimension to the story-telling as we are introduced to, first and foremost, “Cassie for Cassiopeia” and her family. She gives us the crash tour through the waves: “1st wave, lights out”– an EMP makes all electricity and technology useless… “2nd wave, surf’s up” — a massive tsunami wipes out all coastal cities… “3rd wave, pestilence” — the “blood plague” carried by birds wipes out anyone not immune… “4th wave, Silencers” — alien-infested marksmen shoot off the living… and the “5th wave”… well, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? As the waves go on, the human count dwindles. Through each section we see the different points of views — How are each of our characters affected by this apocalyptic event? How does each one deal with loss? How can anyone go on living? What truly matters?

The question at the heart of it all, “How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.”

While Cassie grapples with the promise she makes to her little brother Sammy, Ben struggles with the regret of running away, and Evan battles with… being good at what he does — (his job is not that pleasant) — the events for total human extinction are moving fast. With the world in complete and utter chaos, paranoia takes over: there is no trust. Trust = death. “First rule: Trust no one. The only way to stay alive as long as possible is to stay alone as long as possible.” Secondly, give up hope — because the end is inevitably coming, and it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.” Thus, hope = death; “That will kill you. It kills you before die. Long before you die.” As the awful and carefully calculated events unfold, pessimism and realism blur their undefinable borders… but our characters keep on going. They find strength within their humanity to go on, to defy the ever-so-slim odds, and finally converge at the point of complete chaos.

And so, although the driving forces behind this sci-fi story are the cataclysmic events, the fast action, and the nail-biting suspense — it’s the meaningful bonds between characters that keep you reading. Whether it’s the way Sammy clings to Ben (and vice versa), or the way Evan clings to Cassie (and vice versa) — it’s the human element that matters most when life on the planet barely matters at all. It may be that “the harder survival becomes, the more you want to pull together. And the more you want to pull together, the harder survival becomes.” But the truth is… that this what we humans do: in times of crisis, we pull together.

Of course, there’s also that Cassie is a hilarious narrator… and then there’s also Evan Walker. Just… Evan Walker.

I will be reading The Infinite Sea now…

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Filed under Book Review, Science Fiction, Young Adult

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