Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) - Rick Yancey
Yikes! 
 
I feel the same way about The 5th Wave as I do about Nandos - I'm just not sure if I like it. Sure, I like the smell in there and everyone is always going on and on and on about how great it is. But then you get there and there's always this really boring and awkward wait because for some reason they thought it was a good idea to serve food partly canteen style and partly table service. Whoever dreamed that up was kidding themselves when they thought it would make a pleasant dining experience. Half your food, which was inexplicably given to you at the counter, sits and gets cold on the table, while you wait for your main meal to be brought to you by the server, you know - the good stuff, the stuff you went in there to eat in the first place. All the while that plate of lumpy mashed potatoes just stares up at you, saying "You picked me. I know you felt you had to because I came along in the meal deal, but you picked me all the same so eat me and enjoy me!" 
 
What I'm trying to say is that parts of The 5th Wave reminds me of that sad plate of mashed potatoes - I didn't want it,  but it's there anyway sitting right beside the good stuff and colouring my opinion of the thing as a whole. Cassie and Evan's relationship is my mashed potatoes - unexpected, stodgy to get through, bland and just a little bit sickening. 
 
So the basic story line goes Earth has been invaded by Others - aliens hellbent of ridding Earth of it's human population to make way for their own habitation. Four waves have already gone down and the majority of Earth's people are dead. Cassie is a survivor, fighting to be reunited with her younger brother as she waits anxiously for the unknown fifth wave to begin and hoping for no more than to stay alive. 
 
Okay ..... So the premise is interesting, the writing style is tolerable, the characters seem lively and engaging enough ..... Then all of a sudden BAM! The whole thing is spoiled by Cassie going all  wobbly over some dumb ass boy. Cassie is badass at the start. She's determined, she's set a goal to rescue her little brother Sammy and all that matters to her is self preservation in order to stay alive to reach him. She's a fighter. She handles a rifle like nobody's business. She seems to have her head screwed very firmly on. But then Evan had to rock up and ruin everything. He transformed Cassie from a strong, brave, independent woman on a mission to a silly little girl, who falls into his soft arms when she smells chocolate on his breath (yeah, what was that all about?!) and I was super annoyed that the author allowed her to become a stereotypical damsel-in-distress heroine. There was no need for that. She could have enjoyed Evan's company, been grateful to him for scraping her off the highway and dressing her leg (yes, that's right Evan. It was her leg that was shot. Not her entire body. There was no need to wash and dress her entire body while she was unconscious and unable to give consent, that could have waited for another day, pervert) without her having to turn into a helpless shadow of her former self. She couldn't even ask him a straight question about what he had done with her possessions or who he really was without her, for some reason, cowering from him. 
 
We need tough, gritty female leads. We don't need to read about women who become controlled by men just because these guys are hot. I mean, here we are right in the middle of an alien invasion, the apocalypse is happening right here, right now all around us and yet all Cassie can think about is what a great ass Evan has! There's more to life than boys! Especially when the world is coming to an end any minute
 
So while this whole boring debacle is playing out, the book switches to another POV, that of the child soldiers. First Sammy, then Zombie. And the thing changed for me. It suddenly became interesting and engaging again. I feel something that the author did incredibly well was build tension and let out just enough information piece by piece, to cause me to doubt what I thought. I thought I had it all figured out, who was on what side. Who was a good guy and who was a bad guy. And then something else would happen to spin me round in the other direction and I would question myself over wether I had interpreted someone correctly, had I been aware of all the information when I had made a previous assumption. I so enjoyed this aspect of the book, the way the story was woven. I thought it was clever and keep the heat on throughout the novel. Even when there was a lull in the action I felt I had to read on to confirm what I thought was true, or to discover something else which would throw me again. I'm not saying there were many surprises, I figured it out pretty quickly. It was more the fact that I found myself doubting what I thought I had figured out correctly which really kept my guessing of the end from spoiling the book as a whole. Fabulously put together in terms of suspense and reveal. 
 
As I said I already figured out what was going on. But what was going on was super cool and inventive so it really didn't matter. This is why I'm torn between tossing this book from the window of my second floor apartment, straight into the path of oncoming traffic, and sleeping with it every night beneath my pillow, then queuing outside the book store for part two. I don't know if I love it, or if I hate it. It has qualities that could warrant either reaction. Like I said the whole shenanigans with Cassie and Evan made me want to puke and punch the book until the pages were shredded and my knuckles bloody. But then on the other hand I adored Zombie and the gang, and their struggle to make sense of this new world, where every rule has changed and they can only truly rely on themselves was really heart felt, well written and totally engrossing. 
 
I think there should have been more information about the actual content of the story, because for a novel touted as a tale of alien invasion there sure weren't many aliens around. I was super disappointed to discover that the guise aliens would don in The 5th Wave resemble Stephanie Meyer's aliens of that excuse for a novel, The Host. I suppose the author of The 5th Wave was going for more of a focus on the human survival instinct and that ever present hope even in the face of terrible adversity. I'm guessing he was sneaky, sneaky and never intended for this book to be about aliens at all. It's about human spirit and about what being human really means. And how far we are willing to go to cling to survival. 
 
I know for sure I won't be returning to Nandos (my sweet potato mash is far superior anyway. My secret? Mash in some Philadelphia cream cheese. Really. Go ahead. Try it. You'll never look back.) but will I continue reading The 5th Wave series? I don't know. My hope is that the author doesn't attempt some ridiculous lurve triangle between Cassie, Evan and Zombie/Ben. If that shit even approaches the sequel I will be aiming my M16 highly accurately, squeezing the trigger and travelling with the bullet right into the beating heart of that SOB, ripping the pages into confetti and washing my hands of the entire charade. 
 
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