Rick Yancy’s ‘The 5th Wave’ is part of a new trend of Y/A books that feature alien invasions and their impact on the human race. But there are no little green men in the book – there’s just a faceless enemy who is cleverer and more ruthless than any that we’ve imagined before.
Invasion books are usually characterised by groups of people banding together to make war on the enemy. But here – the enemy is not there to fight. They’ve been making their move from far away, effectively clearing the earth ahead of making it their home. Humans are, as the main character points out, nothing more than cockroaches to them – an infestation to be snuffed out as effectively and efficiently as possible. This happens over five ‘waves’ – featuring everything from infectious diseases to forced natural disasters to our own human paranoia – which paint a terrifying picture of how human life could be completely decimated.
Cassie is one of the few that have survived. She’s on her own, hiding out in the woods in a desperate bid for survival. Her only plan is to find her little brother and make sure he’s safe. After she’s shot in the leg, she’s taken in by fellow survivor, Evan. But even as she starts to develop feelings for him, she starts to suspect that he is more than what he seems.
Elsewhere, surviving children and teenagers are trained to be soldiers in a military training camp, indoctrinated and ready to kill the enemy on command without hesitation. Children as young as five are pushed to the limits and taught to handle weaponry. Ben and his team are determined to do everything they can to graduate from their class and join the fight. But it soon becomes clear that what they’ve been told doesn’t quite add up.
In the end, Cassie and Ben’s stories come together in an explosive finale that leaves you on tenterhooks for the next instalment!
This type of novel is new to me, and it’s not a genre that I usually gravitate towards. That said, I really enjoyed reading it. The characters are well developed throughout the book, giving the reader a real snapshot into how the invasion affects the survivors. Cassie’s character in particular is portrayed as tough and brave, but at the same time self-deprecating and lost and I completely believed in her.
Overall, the author really managed to convey a sense of total confusion and isolation. The characters don’t want to believe that aliens will just systematically wipe out the human race. Alone and displaced, they are left with a feeling of complete bewilderment, betrayal and helplessness – like hunted animals.