It has been a while (a very, very long while) since a book has tackled this area of science fiction so incredibly well. It has been a while (maybe too long a while) since I have been genuinely terrified (and maybe even a little thrilled) by the thought of an alien invasion. Believe what you want, but they are out there. Yes, admittedly, they are probably microscopic, leg-less organisms on some distant moon in some distant solar system, but they are out there... My aliens, however, have nothing on the Others.
In Cassie's world, half a million people died during the first wave. Another three billion waved goodbye during the second. Come the third wave, and those unlucky enough to have survived the first two faced an airborne virus, The Pestilence or the Red Death. Then there was the fourth wave, which forced the remaining survivors into solitude, ready to be picked off one by one. Cassie is one of them, scouring the empty country with nothing but the items on her back and a trusty M16 by her side. She wonders if she is the last human left on earth, possibly even the last human left in the universe, but she made a promise to her younger brother, one that she is determined to follow through. What she doesn't expect is to stumble across another survivor. Warm, clean Evan Walker.... Whose every trait and sentence is a contradiction.
The Fifth Wave isn't just Cassie's story. We are treated to a handle of other perspectives, from the distant Silencer to the guilt-driven Zombie and his team of child soldiers. Cassie's however, is the strongest of these, with an apt amount of bleak humour and sarcasm defining her personality. And not to sound completely sexist, but it is always impressive when an older male author manages to so effortlessly capture the voice of an ordinary teenage girl. Cassie is a true delight here - so very determined and wonderfully amusing. Her reaction to Evan is a little eye-roll-inducing on occasion, but she is, on the whole, a fantastic and well-developed character. Evan demands an equal amount of attention, though for entirely different reasons. There is a little ounce of predictability where his character is concerned, but, for the vast majority of the book, he is incredibly likeable.
Without a doubt, Rick Yancey is a clever man, and as much as I enjoyed the brilliantly crafted characters in this, it's the world-building and plot that truly mesmerised. There is a distinct cinematic feel to the story here (movie rights, I see you!), with some wonderful scenes of action and even a hint of psychological thrill. A part of me itched to enter the book myself (the part of me that is convinced that I have survival skills), while the other part of me sat bouncing on the edge of my seat. Yes, this book is exciting. It's also gritty and uncompromising - a combination that only makes the sci-fi nerd in me grin.
The ending isn't too excruciating, though it does make me want to get on my knees and beg for the sequel. August, 2014? Who thinks I'll last that long?show more