Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reading Review - The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

I just finished the book, set it down, and started to type this review. The entire time I was reading this book, I had so much to say. For some reason, I'm very opinionated about this book. There are definitely parts I love- the majority of it, actually. But there are parts I didn't like and I'm going to talk about those as well. This is the first science fiction alien book that I've read in quite awhile, and I have to say that it was really well done. Not perfect, by any means, but I think that it's a great start to a series. Now, let's talk more about The 5th Wave.
The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After 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.

First, let's talk about some technical aspects that I really liked and disliked. This book is divided up into numerous parts, each with its own name and narrator. However, there are two main story lines and there are a few chapters with other narrators, but it is mainly two characters. I thought that added a lot to the story- it certainly added a lot of intrigue and I thought I had the story figured out, only to be thrown by another plot twist in a part. That was really well done. However, there were definitely sections that dragged and that made me hate reading through them- like I said, strong opinions on this one. I think it was because the book was overall really good so I held it to such a high standard for reading. At the end of my general review, I'm going to break the book down by part and tell you more of my parts. However, I will say now that the part-by-part breakdown may be minor spoilers as I will be talking in vague terms about how the book is progressing. So if you want to avoid even a hint of a spoiler, then I would suggest skipping that portion, but nothing overtly spoiler-y or giving away the plot details will be going on. If you guys want a spoiler book talk where everyone can comment and talk about a particular book we all enjoyed, let me know and I can post one of those. However, in a review I do take extra care to avoid spoilers or forewarn of any possible ones. So, there will be a part-by-part, but first let's continue on with the general review.
Let's discuss the characters. The two main storylines follow characters named Cassie and Zombie. These two are experiencing very different things but that really added a lot to the story. I personally enjoyed Cassie's storyline more- I found her character more interesting and I think that she was an easier narrator for me to read. Zombie, as he is called, is still a good narrator as well, but his parts did drag for me at points in the book, but more on that in the part-by-part. I know when I heard reviews on this, there were some complaints about insta-romance in this book. However, it didn't irk me very much. Why? Maybe it was because I liked the characters, but also because when you think about the setting, an apocalyptic world with aliens invading and people being wiped out by the billion, strong emotions seem to go along with the world that everyone is in. I found the romance to not be as sudden and 'insta-romance' as I've seen in many contemporaries, so I was ok with that in the book. However, characters aside, I did have some problems with the plot.
My main problem was when the plot dragged. When I read this I was finally pulling myself out of a reading slump, and so a plot dragging was terrible! That may have been part of the reason I was so hard of the slower moments in the book, but I really was annoyed that a book that had me so thoroughly engrossed was dragging so badly. Then, there were some discrepencies in the storyline that confused me as well. Since those are spoiler-y, I'll avoid talking about them and hope that the idea is addressed more in The Infinite Sea. Another thing that bothered me was how the book was technically done. Cassie's parts are told as a diary, which I didn't realize until she explicitly states it. It doesn't really read like a typical diary entry book would, which I was grateful for because I'm not the biggest fan of diary-type books. However, every other narrator in this book, it was just their thoughts. I think. Because it was never stated that they were all keeping diaries, I would just assume that the other parts were live thoughts as things happened. And it's definitely a minor thing, but I wondered why make Cassie's a diary and then no one else's point of view. It definitely made sense in the story, especially as her story progressed, but at parts I was wondering about that, so I thought I'd mention it. This particular aspect really didn't bother me much as the story went by, but I did initially wonder about the significance. I think that the book was excellent, but the problems were so annoying to me because it was such a well done book.
Now that we've talked about some of the negatives, let's finish up this general discussion with some other more technical aspects I really enjoyed about this book. Firstly, the titles for each part. Yes, it's more of a technical detail, but the titles were really well chosen, and I appreciated that. The titles did add a lot, and while we're on titles I think The 5th Wave was a really good one for the story. The Infinite Sea is also a good title for the follow up, after reading this book. Finally, another aspect I really liked was how Rick Yancey connected certain thoughts, ideas, or symbols from point of view to point of view and bridged multiple storylines with them. It really connected the story well, and whenever I saw one it would bring back the original connection and its storyline events, so I think it brought the book together nicely.
Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. I think that was a fair rating for this book. It was really wonderful, and I found a lot to love in it, but there were a few flaws in there that stood out to me. So, I think that it was definitely a good book, and there's some details and ideas that need to be explained in The Infinite Sea, and I'm hoping the plot of that one is like the majority of The 5th Wave- fast paced and full of intrigue and action. This is a wonderful book, and I think it is definitely worth reading.

Now that the general review is done, let's break this down in a part-by-part review. There may be some minor spoilers, but I'm trying to keep this vague but still give an idea of how I thought the story was progressing in each section. With that in mind, let's go ahead.

Part-by-part Breakdown

Part I  and Intrusion (Prologue) - The Last Historian
This was an excellent start to the book. For reading slump me, who was worried about starting a longer book while still unsure of how much I would be reading, this completely had my attention from the beginning. Cassie is an excellent narrator, and the beginning immediately engages the reader in what's going on. She's got a lot to deal with, and her life has been extremely difficult, but Cassie is trying. She's struggling, but that's something understandable about her character and she is still trying to survive in this world. I really appreciated being introduced to this world in her point of view. A lot of back story is given in this part, which was really helpful in learning about what happened and what Cassie herself had dealt with. In short, this was a part that had action, character history, and world building and all three were balanced. Oh, and a quick word about the prologue- it was creepy, and strange, and set up a lot of intrigue in the story.

Part II - Wonderland
This was Zombie's introduction, and the start of a story line that took me awhile to enjoy. It wasn't horrible by any means, but compared to what was going on in other parts, it bored me. This part, the introduction to his story line, was alright. It wasn't anything that I was incredibly interested in, but it was easy enough to read. Also, by the end, some more intrigue had been added to the story and what was going on at a completely different location from where Cassie was.

Part III - Silencer
This section was very short, but added a lot to the story. It was a really interesting turn in perspective, and I think that this section added a lot. I would have liked to see more from this narrator, but I understood why it had to be this way in the greater context of the story.

Part IV - Mayfly
I really like Cassie's sections. She's just a good narrator in the story, a little bit of humor mixed in with a story that's action and a harsh reality for her to face. Since we are talking about events further along in the book, I'll avoid spoilers and just say that this was a good section and I thought it wasn't dragging. It wasn't the most action packed area in the book, but it was definitely still interesting to me.

Part V - The Winnowing
This was another section that added to the book, but wasn't a main story narrator. I still think it was good because there was more depth added to some characters, and a bit of world building that wasn't seen before. That's what's so unique about the book- there are different settings that really make a difference in how the characters are and what's going on. So, this was interesting enough, but in all the parts I had read thus far it was probably the one that interested me less.

Part VI - The Human Clay
Here was where the story dragged. I found myself putting the book down quite a few times. As this 50 page section wore on, I was wondering why it wasn't shorter. In all honesty I think that this could have been 20 pages and it would have been better. Zombie was not a good narrator in this part, and not much happens. The first few lines and beginning was interesting enough, but this section soon lost my interest. Compared to the pace of the rest of the book, it was very slow. A new character called Ringer was introduced, and I wasn't a fan of her character. She seemed overplayed, a super tough fighter that still hasn't undergone any character development. So those two factors combined to make this, in my opinion, the slowest section of the book and the hardest to get through. I saw that there was another Cassie section ahead, but it was brief and followed by a 40 page Zombie section, and I was not excited about that at all. The next few sections of the book would be critical to my overall opinion of the story.

Part VII - The Heart to Kill
I was so happy to be returning to a Cassie section after the boring Zombie one. I think that although this part was brief, it added a lot to the characters involved in it. Cassie is a smart narrator, and I think that this part was a lot of good character development, and was brief enough to keep the content action packed.

Part VIII - The Spirit of Vengeance
I was not excited at all to return to this point of view. Sure, this part was very action packed, but after Zombie's last part, I was still not very interested in what was going on. I wasn't very interested in the characters, and so the story wasn't getting my interest, either. But then everything came together, and a lot of the intrigue suddenly became a dangerous, cohesive plot. And it was suddenly very interesting. I still wasn't the biggest fan of the characters, but this story was definitely worth reading, and by the end I was once again engrossed in the story. Also, this was the point where I began to see how these story lines could converge.

Part IX - A Flower to the Rain
Cassie's story is beginning to become more and more intriguing as she begins to plan for action. And in this section, action certainly begins, and the plot is becoming more and more intricate.

Part X - A Thousand Ways
A brief, but still important Zombie section. There's a lot going on in general in the book right now, and I was very interested in all of the story. Everything was coming together, and the story was so intense!

Part XI - The Infinite Sea
I found it interesting that this part has the same name as the sequel, so I think that I was looking for a connection between the two. There is, but what was more important was how the story was progressing. There is quite a bit that's about to happen in this, and it seems like a buildup of more in the story, even though it's already so far into the book!

Part XII - Because of Kistner
Another very short section, but a much needed insight into Zombie's mind as everything is coming together. This was a good addition to the story.

Part XIII - Black Hole
The final part of the book. And everything comes together. I found some parts hilarious, most of it was incredibly action filled, intense, intriguing, and I had no idea what could happen. By the end, I was in awe of how much had happened in this book, and I was already excited for the sequel. Which I have to wait until September for. Great. Well, that's going to be a long wait.

Anyways, I hope that this very long review was interesting for you all. I haven't written such a long one before, but I really enjoyed it because it gave me more opportunities to really think about and relive the book and my detailed thoughts about it. If you like these longer reviews, let me know and I can do these sort of very detailed ones with a breakdown of parts for books. I would definitely recommend this, it was a great book and a wonderful start to a new series! Also, if any of you has read The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey, let me know your thoughts. There was my very detailed review of The 5th Wave, and I hope you all enjoyed it, and if you read the book let me know about your thoughts.

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