Book Review: The 5th Wave

woman with computer interfaceThe 1st Wave came as a massive EMP strike that left Earth in the dark. The 2nd Wave created massive tsunamis that killed three billion people. The 3rd Wave was the Red Death—a virus with a 97% kill rate. The 4th Wave was more subtle, and it isolated the survivors. It’s impossible to know who you can trust when the enemy looks human.

Cassie, her brother Sam, and their dad have found temporary safety in a refugee camp. When soldiers arrive to transport children to the safety of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Cassie protests. She doesn’t want their family to be separated, but her dad insists on sending Sam to the base where he’ll stand a better chance of survival. Cassie chooses to stay behind with her dad, and when the Others destroy the camp, she’s left alone. The only thing that matters to her now is finding Sam.

Ben is as good as dead when soldiers find him, but within the shelter of Wright-Patterson, he fights back from the verge of death. He’s then given the chance to become part of the resistance. Ben likes the idea of making the Others pay for everything they’ve done, but what’s even more appealing is the thought of finding a way to silence the guilt that haunts him.

Ben wants nothing more than to leave the past behind. Cassie can’t let go. Their journeys will lead them toward each other and the truth about the 5th Wave.

There’s a lot of back story in the first few chapters of The 5th Wave, so it gets off to a slow start. Fortunately the post-apocalyptic feel intrigued me enough to keep reading, and I’m glad I did because the pace picks up. While I wouldn’t say the plot is completely unpredictable, author Rick Yancey still manages to work in a couple of surprises and keep you turning pages just to see how everything comes together. He balances regret and hope, despair and determination in a story dealing with one of my favorite themes (and one science fiction does so well): What does it mean to be human?

The sequel (currently untitled) is expected to release in May of 2014.

©2013 Kim Vandel

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