The Fifth Wave: Book Review

I received Fifth Wave (and The Infinite Sea) for Christmas with the proviso that I allow the giver to read them after I was done. I’ll pretty much to anything for a book, so of course I agreed — and then I apparently wasn’t reading the second book fast enough and got into trouble from said giver (but that’s another story).

This book isn’t just another typical alien-invasion book with a small yet plucky group of humans facing the super-high tech alien overlords with a do or die attitude. Well, there’s that, but the premise of the book is very interesting. The book starts by detailing the first four waves of the alien invasion (this gives nothing away):

  1. EMP. The aliens completely, irrevocably, and permanently destroy the world’s electronics, destroying any chance of humans communicating with each other to mount a defense (which would only be sticks and stones anyway, because anything remotely technological no longer works).
  2. Tsunami. The aliens strike the tectonic plates with a device that creates monster tsunamis and wipes out everybody living on the seaboards anywhere. So 40 percent of the world’s population: gone.
  3. Disease. Then they introduced a deadly disease with a nearly 100-percent mortality rate to humans via birds. Naturally the death toll skyrocketed.
  4. Silencers. Finally, humans who had been downloaded with alien intelligences awakened (as in came into their alien-ness), and started picking off any remaining humans. Like alien snipers.

So what is the fifth wave? Something truly heinous invented by aliens over the course of thousands of years while watching humans. But you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The story revolves around Cassie as she searches for her little brother. Throughout her journey, she meets a Silencer who wishes he was human, a girl who’s a perfect shot, and a boy she used to know and love before the world went crazy.

I loved this book, not only for Rick Yancey’s lyrical storytelling, but because the premise is so intriguing: aliens invade the Earth not by launching a full scale attack, but by paring down the population by using nature, and ourselves, against us. Fascinating, right? What two-bit aliens are going to risk life and limb in a physical invasion before killing off as many of us as possible first?

The characters ain’t bad either. Cassie, our main human heroine, struggles with surviving in a world where she might be the last human left:

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.” 

Yancey has a plethora of amazing quotes. In fact, the idea that the last battlefield is within the human soul is a theme that runs throughout the rest of the books. The book explores the idea of humanity and the human spirit:

“When the moment comes to stop running from your past, to turn around and face the thing you thought you could not face–the moment when your life teeters between giving up and getting up–when that moment comes, and it always comes, if you can’t get up and you can’t give up either, here’s what you do: Crawl.” 

At the very least, after reading this you’ll gain a little perspective.

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