I stumbled across Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave entirely by accident. After the fact, I learned that it is to be made into a big blockbuster movie with Chloe Grace Moretz, but at the time I just liked the look of the cover. The blurb hooked me in, aliens have always been a favourite subject of mine to read about and it had a bit of a Invasion of the Body Snatchers vibe going on as well. At £2 I considered it a steal.
What I also didn’t know then, was that The 5th Wave is a teen novel. Now that didn’t put me off, I do quite like teen fiction, well the premise of it anyway, since I haven’t really read all that much of it. I enjoyed The Hunger Games and I absolutely love Harry Potter so I wouldn’t call it strange territory.
The story chronicles an alien invasion of Earth from the perspective of a teenage girl called Cassie. But this is not your average, big explosions, nukes flying off, type of alien book. It’s less Independence Day and more post apocalyptic depression in the vein of The Road and The Book of Eli. Cassie is a really relatable protagonist, she feels down to earth and really matches her situation. Her occasional swooning over the two main men in the book, Ben and Evan, is sometimes annoying and a reminder that your reading fiction for 16 year old girls, but generally it’s kept to a minimum. The few sections that switch perspectives to Ben (aka Zombie) and his band of child soldiers, are by far the most enjoyable sections of the novel however, and his relationships with Nugget and Ringer make for the most engaging reading.
The alien enemy, led by Colonel Vosch are far too predictable and far too human-like for my liking. There seems to be no method to their madness. They are the typical killing machines, with no reason and no motive. What is set up as an intriguing mystery, with early speculation as to what they want, who they are, its disappointingly undelivered. Partly this has put me off for wanting to continue with the trilogy because it seems difficult to imagine how the alien enemy can be developed enough to make them more than cannon fodder.
Overall The 5th Wave was an entertaining novel, sometimes intriguing, but not enough to make me want to continue beyond this novel. Though I really liked the characters, and post-apocalyptic setting, the lack of interesting or three-dimensional antagonist was just too off-putting.