Review by New York Times Review
IN a post-Potter, post-Katniss era, the line between young adult and mainstream fiction often blurs. Novels that once would have slipped beneath the radar of adult readers are now proudly displayed by middle-aged commuters on public transit; books that not so long ago wouldn't have made it past the P.T.A. into the middle school library are, for a generation raised on endless reruns of "Law and Order: SVU," just another day at the office. Thirteen isn't what it used to be - nor, apparently, is the 30 it's become. Finding a manuscript that will satisfy both audiences has become the holy grail of publishing. It's a tricky line to walk, and few succeed. But Rick Yancey's wildly entertaining new novel, "The 5th Wave," is such a book. Yancey's tale begins with the arrival of a huge, alien mother ship in Earth's orbit. (Pause to wonder: Why isn't it ever a father ship?) No word is forthcoming from its inhabitants, leaving humanity to speculate on their intentions; then the fun begins. I say "fun" because Yancey isn't content with just one brand of Armageddon, and delivers the apocalypse with multivalent gusto. (Hence the "waves" of the title.) The first wave: an electromagnetic pulse that plunges the planet into preindustrial chaos. The second: a giant metal slab, sent crashing from high orbit into a major geological fault line, releasing a tsunami that drowns the world's coastlines. The third: an avian virus that wipes out 99 percent of the remaining populace. The fourth: body-snatched humans, implanted with alien consciousnesses, who stalk the few survivors that remain. (I'll leave the fifth alone.) Just about everything here is borrowed from one venerable pop culture source or another, but it's a rip-roaring setup, and as the bodies accumulate, the pages turn themselves. It's hard to recall a novel - Y.A. or otherwise - in which more bad things happen to more good people in such a short span of time. The novel's action boils down to four main characters: Cassie, the spunky, underappreciated 12-year-old tomboy; Sam, her deliciously adorable little brother; Ben, the high school football star she's worshiped from afar; and Evan, the mysterious hunk who looks like "a teenage version of the Brawny paper towel guy." Nothing new, in other words, for anybody who's ever been to the octoplex, but Yancey sets them into energetic motion like a pro. After her parents die - her mother from the plague, her father at the hands of a soldier who may or may not be human - Cassie, armed with an M-16, embarks on a quest to find her brother, who has been taken away in a busload of children. Wounded by an unseen alien sniper, she is rescued by Evan; the two join forces, even as his explanation about how he's survived doesn't seem to wash. Not far away, Ben, tortured by memories of abandoning his little sister, is recruited to lead a unit of child soldiers to go after "the infested" - humans whose bodies have been co-opted by the enemy. The convergence of their story lines leads to a final action set piece that ties everything together with Bond-movie brio. This is a world in which adults don't really figure - a staple of young adult literature. It's also structured like Y.A., employing a rotating first-person narration told in the present tense. This may be a fair representation of the way young people experience the world, but it makes for some ungainly moments, and cuts off the narrative from the richer, more reflective emotional texture it deserves. This is a story in which truly awful things happen and truly daring deeds are performed; beneath the teenage angst, it's serious fare, and yet its depictions of horror and moments of courage often feel dulled by the limitations of its point of view. One has the sense that Yancey was a little too conscious of trying to win over both audiences at the same time. That said, it's a testament to Yancey's skill that for the duration of this grownup's reading, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. A setup like this would be hard to resolve in one book, and Yancey doesn't try; there's plenty of room left for a sequel or two. Smart man. Justin Cronin is the author of "The Passage" and "The Twelve."
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [May 26, 2013]
Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* The Monstrumologist series set a bar for YA horror nearly impossible to match. Can Yancey do the same for sci-fi? He makes a hell of an effort with this ambitious series starter set in the aftermath of a crushing alien invasion in which the aliens themselves never appeared. Seven billion humans have died in the months following the appearance of a giant mother ship. Wave 1: an electromagnetic pulse rendering all machines useless. Wave 2: tsunamis wiping out coastal cities. Wave 3: the Red Death, a deadly plague carried by birds. Wave 4: Silencers, humans who were implanted with alien intelligence as fetuses. We don't even want to know about Wave 5 do we? Monstrumologist fans will be surprised to discover that Yancey grounds his multiperspective survivalist thriller in two fairly conventional YA voices: Cassie, 16, whose grim solitary existence changes when she is rescued by hunky but mysterious Evan; and Zombie, 17, ex-sports star thrown into a brutal boot camp to train as an alien killer. Yancey's heartfelt, violent, paranoid epic, filled with big heroics and bigger surprises, is part War of the Worlds, part Starship Troopers, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and part The Stand, but just close enough to dystopic trends to make this a sure thing for reviewers and readers alike. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hype has been heavy since a big preempt sale and an announced 500,000 first printing. Film rights are sold, tours are planned, ads will be omnipresent need we say more?--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
The alien invasion did not happen the way anyone expected, and the few hundred thousand humans left standing are trying to understand how the fifth attack wave will play out. Sixteen-year-old Cassi lost her father and is trying to stay alive to eventually save her younger brother, but to do so, she'll have to rely on others. Narrators Brandon Espinoza and Phoebe Strole are superb and keep listeners riveted throughout. Espinoza covers the various chapters told from male points of view, while Strole narrates chapters told from Cassie's point of view, ably capturing the young girl's range of emotions. Ages 14-up. A Putnam hardcover. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
Sixteen-year-old Cassie assumes the battle has just begun when extraterrestrials unleash a plague that kills the majority of the world's population, including her mother. Only after her father is murdered and her five-year-old brother, Sammy, is bused to an alien death camp does she realize the aliens have been living among them for years. Determined to save Sammy, Cassie must place her trust in an alien-human hybrid whose motives are less than clear in this post-apocalyptic struggle. Yancey (The Monstrumologist) launches a gripping sf trilogy that's a soon-to-be motion picture. Phoebe Strole and Brandon Espinoza feature different voices to highlight characterization and set a superb pace that plays up the suspense. VERDICT Highly recommended for teens and adults. [The Penguin hc was a New York Times best seller.-Ed.]-JoAnn Funderburk, South Garland Branch Lib., TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Cassie travels with just the essentials. First on the list: Luger, M-16, ammo, Bowie knife. Incidentals like food, water, sleeping bag, and nail clippers come further down. A nondescript 16-year-old, she is one of the very few people left alive on Earth. Aliens sent waves of destructive forces to eradicate humans: Cassie's family survived the 1st and 2nd Waves. Her mother died in the 3rd Wave (Pestilence) and her father in the 4th (Silencers). Her little brother may still be alive; he may even be safe in a military compound, as Cassie deals with the 5th Wave- a carefully orchestrated survival dance of kill or be killed. The aliens are never described in detail, and their reasons for wanting the humans gone are not clear. But they are ruthless and determined, and their methods for gaining control mean readers will never again see owls as the friendly, mail-delivering avians portrayed in the world of Harry Potter. The compelling story is told from the viewpoints of Cassie and Ben, who is now a soldier known as Zombie. Cassie crushed on Ben at school, but he never particularly noticed her. Now he has transformed from handsome high school sports star to focused paramilitary killer. Yancey's story is full of violent twists and turns, but character development continues along with nonstop action. Cassie and Ben grow out of high school self-centeredness and find leadership qualities. Cassie's interactions with an alien elevate him from a one-dimensional "bad guy" role. While the big body counts (billions die) happen largely offscreen, there are numerous more personal instances in which teens are both killers and killed. The ending has enough planned loose ends to practically guarantee a sequel.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
"Once they found us, we were toast," says sixteen-year-old survivor Cassie, after aliens have invaded Earth. No "little green men and giant mechanical spiders spitting out death rays," no earthlings locked in epic battles. Just seven billion humans killed in waves of systematic attacks. First, a massive electromagnetic pulse knocked out the power grid, breaking down the social order. Then an attack on the coastlines created killer tsunamis, followed by a worldwide ebola-like plague, followed by the emergence of what Cassie calls the Silencers, implanted in humans years before, out to kill any remaining people. Cassie prepares herself for the fifth wave, the final takeover, fearing that she may be all that's left of humanity -- but "if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield." She's alone until she meets seventeen-year-old Evan Walker, "a very good-looking guy with a lopsided grin and large strong hands," and together they must figure out how to fight back. Until then, the pacing is slow and methodical, with the action escalating only toward the conclusion. Still, Yancey vividly portrays Cassie's existential crisis in a broken world: how to live, why to live, what to believe in, and what to care about. As with other current dystopian novels, fans will read breathlessly to see if the potent mix of war, romance, and hope are enough to save a world. dean schneider (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The challenge? Surviving the genocide of the human race when aliens attack Earth in the not-too-distant future. Sixteen-year-old Cassie, her brother Sam and her dad survived the first four gruesome waves of the attack. Together, the three wait out the titular fifth in a military base for survivors until school buses arrive to take all children to safety, including her brother Sam. Cassie, her dad and the rest of the adults are then divested of their weapons and marched into a bunker by their protectors. Cassie escapes, only to see her dad (and everyone else) brutally executed by their so-called protectors. She then embarks on a mission to rescue her brother. As in his previous efforts (The Monstrumologist, 2009, etc.), Yancey excels in creating an alternative world informed by just enough logic and sociology to make it feel close enough to our own. The suspension-of-disbelief Kool-Aid he serves goes down so easy that every piece of the story--no matter how outlandish--makes perfect sense. The 500-plus-page novel surges forward full throttle with an intense, alarming tone full of danger, deceit and a touch of romance. The plot flips back and forth with so much action and so many expert twists that readers will constantly question whom they can trust and whom they can't. Best of all, everything feels totally real, and that makes it all the more riveting. Nothing short of amazing. (Science fiction. 14 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.