Tony’s review: The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey



Cassie Sullivan may be one of the last humans left. The alien attack has wiped out most of humanity in four waves of increasing destruction.

It took me just over four days to read this. I started on Thursday night, and would have gone straight through the night if I didn’t have to get up the next morning. By the time I’d put it down, I was 20% of the way through, thoroughly hooked, and I finished it over the weekend.

It didn’t matter that the first part of the book was all back-story. What grabbed me was how compelling and plausible that back-story was. The aliens weren’t dumb enough to land and start with death-rays and city busters; instead taking out humanity in four swipes from orbit. Score: seven billion to zero.

The book split into two converging stories about 25% way through, which led to some twists that I could see coming a mile away (Although for a page or two, I did wonder if I had one of them pinned down). The second story strand was the brutal boot-camp training of teenage (and younger) soldiers for the fight back against the aliens. Or are they aliens? Trust and the destruction of trust is one of the themes of the book, a call back to fifties sci-fi films where the aliens (ie communists) look just like us.

Short, snappy chapters, tumbling stream of consciousness sentences stripped to the bone – Yancey’s writing style is fantastic, tripping along, ripping away everything but the most essential details. I wish THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy had been this good.

Where Yancey seems to struggle is with his social interactions. Conversations that don’t make much sense to the reader and some convoluted syntax didn’t give me much insight into their relationships. Cassie immediately falls for the first handsome boy she comes across, despite her mistrust of him and his motives, and despite warning herself not too. Although for a pleasant change, there isn’t a love triangle going on between Cassie and the two main male characters in the story.

An excellent book where it comes to action and the end of the world, but it falls off when the characters have to talk to each other.

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