The Fifth Wave
by: Rick Yancey
I have been SO looking forward to this book since the very first reviews started rolling in. It sounded hardcore and action-packed but with a more introspective side to it. Since reading it I've decided that this book is kind of in the same vein as Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Which is totally fine with me because I freaking love that book. The reason I've decided this is because The Fifth Wave is, yes, about aliens and invasions and fighting back, but a majority of the book is also about how humans react to the invasion. It's about what being human means and how things affect us. Oh, and paranoia. There's a lot of paranoia (in the characters and in you, or at least in me).
Kick-Butt and Clever Characters: CHECK
Cass: YES. Cassie for Cassiopeia is so AWESOME! She's tough and determined, but not unbelievably so. That is to say that she still felt like a normal teenager and a normal girl despite the circumstances. I loved reading from her perspective because she had such a way with words and such a cool thought process. Her relationship with her dad and Sams were both really great to read and interesting.
As I heard another reviewer say, everyone has a Ben Parrish (or what a Ben Parrish is to Cassie). They just do. There is that one person that you have things to say to them (often about feelings and stufffff... ;) ) and you don't tell them. I think one of the most bittersweet things in this book was how Cassie had to think about Ben being dead and the fact that she'd never talked to him about anything despite him being a big part of her life (even if it wasn't the other way around). Then when she did have the chance again, she said something. She made a point of saying something because, "Nothing isn't important anymore."
Which brings us to,
Ben Parrish: oh goodness. He might have been my favorite character in the book. I knew going in that a lot of people didn't like or weren't ready for the switch in perspective. And as much as I loved reading Cassie, I couldn't get enough of reading Ben (or Zombie for that matter). I hated Vosch for getting inside his head and making him think he was weak. His willingness to protect and help Nugget was truly heart-warming.
Evan Walker: Okay, so he was kind of creepy for a good portion of the part of the book that he's in. That might just be me and a lot of it probably had to do with the major levels of paranoia going on inside my brain. ("He's gotta be an alien." "HE'S THE SILENCER." "pshhhh. no he's not shut up." "He's just a farm boy." "But SOFT HANDS." "Waitwhat."). But by the time we got to the part right after they passed by Camp Ashpit on their way to Camp Haven, I trusted him. I think I like his dynamic with Cassie, I think. Maybe. I want to see more of their interactions in the next book so I can judge past the paranoia.
Sams: So cute and sad. I think the thing about him that hit me the hardest was when he was on he bus headed away from Cassie, his dad, and Bear. When he described himself as Bearless and that he thought a lot of other people probably felt Bear-less too. So heartbreakingly sweet.
Ringer: The whole time since she showed up I just wanted to know where she came from. I kept thinking, "but can I know more about Ringer." or "...yeah, that's great. But when can I learn more about Ringer." She seems so interesting and messed-up in a good way. She surely has a tragic past (just like everyone else left on the planet).
Plotting and Pacing: CHECK
It was brilliant how all of the characters and the stories ended up in one place at one time at the end of this book. The different pasts all came together into one present and that was really cool to watch happen. I also didn't have a single complaint with the pacing of this book. It started out with so many things happening! There were flashbacks from a written perspective and passages that were actually incredibly beautiful. There were 4 waves described in the first few pages. But it didn't slow down from there. Things kept happening and the loyalties kept changing. There was this underlying sense of paranoia and panic that really upped the tone of the book from creepy to adrenaline-fueled (which worked really well in this story).
I just can't even fully describe how incredible I thought this book was. Its brilliant in the way it pinpointed the essence of what we are and what scares us, what makes us lose hope and what the lack of hope does to us.
"How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity."
"It's hard to plan for what comes next when what comes next is not something you planned for."
"That's what life was. It was the sea we swam in. The constant sound of all the things we built to make life easy and a little less boring. The mechanical song. The electronic symphony."
"Those few seconds when you're awake but empty. You forget where you are. What you are now, what you were before. It's all breath and heartbeat and blood moving. Like being in your mother's womb again. The peace of the void."
"But I think he knew in the end it wouldn't be the lucky ones left standing. It would be the hardcore. The ones who tell Lady Luck to go screw herself. The ones with hearts of stone. The ones who could let a hundred die so one might live. The ones who see the wisdom in torching a village in order to save it."
"Still, you tend to believe what you always believed, think what you always thought, expect what you always expected..."
"Sometimes you say things to your fear - things like, it doesn't matter, the words acting like pats on the head of a hyper dog."
"If I had faced it then, I wouldn't be facing it now, but sooner or later you have to choose between running and facing the thing you thought you could not face."
"It isn't about destroying our capability to fight so much as crushing our will to fight."
"Cruelty isn't a personality trait. Cruelty is a habit."
"A moment comes in war when the last line must be crossed. The line that separates what you hold dear from what total war demands."
"Before I found you, I thought the only way to hold on was to find something to live for. It isn't. To hold on, you have to find something you're willing to die for."
"Some things you can never leave behind. They don't belong to the past. They belong to you."
"I thought I knew what loneliness was before he found me, but I had no clue. You don't know what real loneliness is until you've known the opposite."