The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey Review
I went into this one with high hopes – most of which were, sadly, dashed. It has so many rave reviews and recommendations from bloggers I trust, so I went out and bought it in my local bookshop for my birthday. And I liked it at the start, I really did. It had lots of cool astute little observations that made me think, ‘Hm, why didn’t I notice that before?’ and like the author more for it.
Unfortunately, it mostly went downhill from there. It just wasn’t as ... brilliant as I was expecting it to be. The prose was easily functional, and very pretty at times, and I felt sure that The 5th Wave would become one of my favourite things, but some of the big story-wide things just weren’t right.
The thing is, it’s difficult to discern exactly what I didn’t like about it. I really enjoyed some of the character’s POVs (although main character Cassie became annoying with her fixation on Ben Parish in the middle of a bloody apocalypse), like Zombie (hint: not an actual Zombie. Zombies do not feature in this novel, thankfully) and Sammy. Many reviewers were annoyed by Sammy’s point-of-view sections (he’s five, so he sees things pretty simply) but I found them very sweet and quite endearing actually. If only Cassie’s sections had endeared me to her a bit more. I adored the front cover. I loved the imagination behind each of the four/five waves (although I preferred the first three; the details behind the last two were too sketchy to really get any satisfaction from).
I think the way the plot was executed was what let the book, and me, down. It’s such an interesting and tantalising (although not entirely original) premise, but the way it plays out – well, let’s just say that it took me about a week to read. That long a time means a book is certainly not keeping me gripped to the page. It dragged in the middle. A lot. She was wandering and being shot and having to spend weeks recuperating and it wasn’t skipped over. Instead we read about every excruciating detail – all of which were just intended to set up and carry through an utterly ridiculous, fake, non-swoonworthy relationship that just stank of plot tropes.
Lest I go off on a rant about YA romance, I’ll just pull myself back and state the facts.
1. That romance was creepy, simple as. Just stalkerish – first there was the whole changing-her-clothes-while-she-sleeps thing, and then there was the standing outside the bathroom door for no apparent reason other than to ensure her safety. To ensure that she doesn’t trip and die in the bath, just like Edward and a certain brunette Mary Sue with a name that rhymes with Shmella.
2. It was just terribly contrived. Yes, obviously they were desperate in this big bad apocalyptic world to find some companionship, but it was just annoying to see them do it that way. Also, Evan, when she says no to a kiss that means no, okay? Not that you paid any attention to that in the book.
3. I don’t intend to spoil this for anyone planning to read the book, but that ‘plot twist’ was a) predictable and b) tiresome. Just don’t, Mr. Yancey. Please don’t.
Okay, onto some good things. I really liked some of the one-liners in here. Cassie is supposedly the witty one, but I actually really liked Zombie and Ringer’s lines – their military training gives rise to plenty of dramatic and hugely cinematic lines and scenes. Cassie gets some good ones in too, though – take the well written one with them carrying the world on their shoulders - but that’s mainly because she has about half the narrative.
I went into this after being told by a fellow blogger that is was a standalone. Nope. It’s the first in a trilogy... which does explain the ending I despised. There were no answers. Nothing got resolved – in fact, everything just got turned upside down all over again. Not exactly the reward I wanted after getting through hundreds of pages. Also, whoever made the dust jacket: please don’t compare it to Ender’s Game.
3.5 stars for the good bits.
P.S. Bear in mind that these were my personal opinions. This book has had phenomenal success, and there are plenty of great bits in it – there were just more that weren’t to my taste.