The 5th Wave

“That there was a yesterday doesn’t mean there will be a tomorrow.”

Rick Yancey

Oh my God, this book is such hokum.

The third and last of the small haul I won last summer (this one from the promotional blog tour for The 5th Wave – it’s had a lot of promotion), my copy is also signed by the author, which would be exciting if it weren’t so terrible.

It’s a novel about an alien invasion. The aliens – the Others, as our heroine Cassie calls them – decide, for reasons best known to themselves, to attack Earth in a series of numbered “waves”.

The First Wave is a massive EMP which takes out every electrical system on the planet. Think The Day the Earth Stood Still. (Is this actually possible? Surely battery-powered stuff would still work?)

The Second Wave is a series of massive tsunamis that take out every human living within sixty miles of a coastline. That’s three billion, apparently.

The Third Wave is essentially Ebola but avian-borne, and kills 97% of the remaining survivors.

And then there’s the Fourth Wave, in which aliens disguised as humans wander around with sniper rifles. Sure, they’re really good snipers, but this seems an extraordinarily inefficient extermination strategy for a race of aliens technologically advanced enough to blow out an entire planet’s power supply.

I will admit, The 5th Wave had me for a while. Watching Cassie wander around this broken, empty world, full of eyes waiting to kill, not being able to trust anyone, remembering the world that once was and will never be again – that was powerful stuff, and quite chilling in its own way. Hard to read, too: I kind of like humanity, and don’t really want to see it go the way of the dinosaurs, even in fiction.

But then at page 150 in strolls Hot Evan Walker, and the whole thing reverts to the comforting triteness of “mind-numbingly stupid YA romance with a bit of mild peril thrown in for good measure”.

Because, you know, that’s a thing.

Evan rescues Cassie from a snowdrift and takes her back to his farmhouse, where they then spend the next hundred pages drinking hot chocolate and making eyes at each other. In the middle of an alien invasion. Seriously.

Admittedly, the narrative does switch to another survivor’s experience, but that’s when it gets even more surreal. I won’t mention what the Fifth Wave is, for fear of spoilers, but if the Fourth Wave’s unlikely, then the Fifth Wave is just stupid. It feels extremely America-centric, the kind of thing that would only work if the world was a lot smaller than it actually is, and the rationale for it is very poorly worked out. (I can’t even remember why Camp Haven gets blown up.)

As for the rest of the book? Cassie finds out something bad about Evan, but it’s all OK because he’s hot. (This is, in fact, pretty much his only character trait.) Cassie does some killing, but it’s all OK because it’s For The Greater Good. Cassie meets an old crush, but it’s all OK because she has a crush on Evan now. (I sense a love triangle coming on.)

You get the picture. The 5th Wave is derivative, unconvincing and generally rage-inducing. And, joy of all joys, there’s going to be a sequel. You’ll excuse me if I skip that one.

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