ARC Review: THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey

ARC Review: THE 5TH WAVE by Rick Yancey
The 5th Wave
The Fifth Wave #1

Written by: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, SciFi, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Source: ARC from ALAMW 2013
Buy at: Amazon, B&N
Add on: Goodreads

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After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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The 5th Wave is the reason I have a Goodreads shelf called “this-is-how-its-done-folks.”

Because, folks – this is how it’s done.

I don’t even know what to say about this book. I really don’t. The 5th Wave is totally different from any YA book I’ve read, and exactly what I think a SciFi book about an alien invasion should be (at least the ones where the aliens are the bad guys). After reading Gravity and Icons and being disappointed by both (but mostly by Icons), reading The 5th Wave was like… having an author write a story like it was just for me, exactly when I wanted it, and exactly how I wanted it told. This is the book I’ve been waiting for.

I have never reacted to a book the way I reacted to The 5th Wave. My heart was pounding, adrenaline pumping… I actually forgot to breathe while reading some of the super-suspenseful scenes. Like… I don’t even know, guys. This book was intense. It was like I was watching this book on one of those giant IMAX screens, in 3D, where all you can see is the movie, and you feel like you’re right in the middle of everything.

A lot of that had to do with Yancey’s writing. It flowed perfectly, from the more introspective scenes, to the do-or-die action sequences… I don’t know how to describe it – I felt totally connected. The language fit the scenes, gave crystal clear pictures of action and setting without any confusion, and it all just disappeared in favor of the story. Despite the sci-fi plot, that connection I felt is what made this book stand out – it gave it a level of realism that I’ve rarely felt in fiction, especially sci-fi.

The 5th Wave alternates between a few points of view, but it’s Cassie who really drives the book. I immediately connected to her character – this is someone who had a totally normal life, only to have it all brutally ripped away from her at the worst possible time. She’s grieving for her family, she’s terrified of what her world has become, and she doesn’t always make the right choices; but beyond that, she is strong and driven and willing to do whatever is necessary to save her little brother. I loved Cassie.

As for Evan and the romance… That part of the blurb was one reason I initially was interested in this book – I thought the romance would play a bigger part. As great as it was (and it was very good), it wasn’t a driving theme in the book, overall. I actually remember getting a fair ways into the book before I realized that nothing “romantic” was happening – and I totally didn’t mind. Honestly, the romance could have probably been left out altogether and I would still be flailing over this book. But it did add another great layer to an already amazing plot.

There are other threads of narration interspersed with Cassie’s chapters, and while I did find Cassie’s to be the strongest, the others are no less engaging. While, at first, it seems like the other characters’ stories are fairly unrelated to Cassie’s, they slowly but surely start to converge, and this was one of my favorite things about the last few chapters of the book – watching the stories come together. It was so well done, and the time spent following the separate story-threads totally paid off.

This is possibly my favorite book so far this year… maybe. Definitely top-three, at least. With the action and flawless storytelling (imho), I couldn’t put it down, and I have to admit to staying up way too late while reading it – I really didn’t want it to end (which might be a horrible thing to say, considering the awful things the characters go through, hah).  Anyway, I have absolutely no hesitation in saying – if you even remotely think that The 5th Wave sounds like something you might possibly enjoy, GO. BUY. IT. Especially if you, like me, have been waiting for the Perfect-YA-Scifi-with-Aliens book. This is it.

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