Say hello to the end of the world via aliens in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave. Mr. Yancey takes a little bit of everything from all things alien and currently popular, throws it in the mixer, gives it a twist, and then gives it one more good twist to come up with a riveting young adult page-turner.
The 5th Wave starts on such a depressing note (think echoes of Red Dawn) that the reader wonders if they want to actually continue, but Yancey masterfully creates a semi-plausible alien invasion scenario, and the first person narrative of Cassie just won’t release the reader. Sections alternate first person accounts among a variety of characters; while the reader has strong suspicions on how things are going to go down, the reader only knows for sure what the characters know. A few things are inconsistent or left unexplained, but perhaps they will be addressed in the next book in the series. As an undercurrent to all the action, there are some probing questions about trust and humanity.
While receiving a big push from the publisher and book sellers, it remains to be seen if The 5th Wave will be the next “big thing” (aka a Harry Potter, Twilight, or Hunger Games). The young adult dystopian market is becoming a bit stale, but apocalyptic aliens is not that far off from dystopian so it may not be the breath of fresh air some are looking for.
Frightening, hopeless, gritty, slightly addictive with great dialogue and likeable characters, The 5th Wave is currently one of the hot young adult reads–and not completely without reason.
Profanity/Language: 32 religious exclamations; 91 mild obscenities; 2 religious profanities; 14 derogatory names; 30 scatological words; 29 anatomical terms; 5 F-word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: Animal is shot; intense scene involving a wounded soldier with some blood and gore and death by gunshot; general reports of mass deaths due to accidents, illness, and violence; reports of deaths of friends and family members; reports of suicide; characters encounter corpses; characters dispose of corpses; detailed descriptions of death due to an illness, mention of blood; characters are knocked unconscious, punched, etc.; scenes where characters are shot and killed, some description; a mass killing, non-detailed; a parent is shot in head in front of their child; extended flashback scenes of family being killed, beat, attacked; frightening medical procedure with psychological pain; reports of violence in military training; extended scene with shooting and deaths; shrapnel is removed from a person, some detail; devices are removed from bodies with knives, fingers, and description of blood; extended action scene involving hitting, strangling, explosions, shooting, mass destruction, and shooting people in the head.
Note: Many of the instances of violence involve teenagers and children under the age of 18.
Sex/Nudity: Reference to tampons; conversation referencing sex and joking about having sex; teenager says she wants to have someone’s baby; a character asks if someone is a virgin; character makes unwanted advances; character awakes to find that they have been bathed and clothed (non-sexual); reference to “dirty magazines”; clothes are removed for medical treatment (non-sexual); male and female characters sleep next to each other (non-sexual); characters kiss.
Mature Subject Matter:
Genocide, Death of family members, War, Depression/Post-traumatic stress, Collapse of Society
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Painkillers used by injured individuals.