Saturday, 11 May 2013

Rick Yancey - 'The 5th Wave'

A fter 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.

The 5th Wave. This book blew me away entirely. Other's criticism of the book largely focuses on the small-scale (really?!?!) of the Invasion and the lack of true first-contact. I could not disagree more, I think Yancey absolutely mastered the show-don't-tell rule. As a teenager on the run, doing everything possible to learn and survive but not be seen, I think this book was realistic to an eerie and disconcerting extent. I didn't sleep entirely peacefully after reading this book - the mark of a true success, I can tell you.
Yancey's characters were real and dynamic but not angsty. Emotions were real and logical and carried the faint aroma of detachment which would undoubtedly exist in such a situation; trivial matters are still at the forefront of the protagonists mind because, well, they would be. As her survival mission goes, there is a fair amount of hiding and down-time for her, and her mind logically strays back to memories. These memories form a focal part of the narration and shape the book and the depth of Cassie's psyche. They are essential to understanding what she has been through to get to this point and what her future holds.
The dystopian-esque future masterfully combines some of the more brutal aspects of history and some of the wildest speculations of a science-fiction future. The crucial message that came across for me, however, was not merely the fear and loathing that would accompany an invasion like that in the book, but how inextricably these evils and this colonisation was linked to human history. Colonial history. Totalitarian history. Genocide.
This book can by no means be accused of being two-dimensional. Everything screamed depth and involvement to me and I, for one, am counting down the seconds until Yancey gives us the second instalment of Cassie, Ben and Evan's story. Let's just hope the aliens don't arrive and take over before next May...

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