Book Review: The 5th Wave

5thwave_cover.jpg

Man, things have been frustrating recently. First, there was were problems with the Internet connection of the server hosting this site and then it somehow lost connection again, despite all the details being correct and Internet there was working, but that does not mean that this is last outage of the server, because I do expect one more to happen, for a different reason than the recent outages.

However, dwelling on the bad is not always a good thing, as I got some presents recently, which included two books and credit for iTunes, which was used to get two shows, one of which I will not cover until either the end of the month or next year, due to the release being incomplete.

Today, I will be reviewing the first of the three things I can cover, which is called The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

Aliens have come to Earth, but not on a mission of peace or salvation. They have come with the sole purpose of exterminating the human race.

So far, much of humanity, along with transportation and communications systems, has been indirectly wiped out, and the aliens have decided to end the lives of the current survivors with their own hands.

However, there are some individuals that are determined to fight against these aliens, whether the reason is to keep living or to see loved ones again. Cassie Sullivan is one of those people, but when the enemy looks exactly like us, she has to struggle between doubting everyone and going against wisdom by trusting a face that she met because of the attacks.

I am not too sure about this book. Fortunately, there are quite a few things that I did like about it. From the very first few pages, I felt like I was pulled into the world and that I got to know pretty much most of the characters, though certainly not all of them. Considering that this book is supposedly the first of a trilogy, this how I expect things to be. After all, if it was as slow to start as The Book Thief was, I probably would not be interested in the sequel, which is the second book I received, because taking hundreds of pages just to get interesting is not something that I can tolerate. However, seeing as how series like Divergent can have feel like it has gone too long, since the enemy introduced in Allegiant felt tacked on just to make it longer, that does not mean that I have high hopes for this series, especially with the issues that I will bring up later that already present. I also liked how there was not really an easy way to tell who was an alien and who was not, though there are some exceptions. When I saw the first Twilight movie with my sister, who was a fan of the series, I really hated how I could easily pick out the vampires. Of course, that was because the vampires featured every stereotype we give vampires, and only one thing that was not. Now, I have not read or watched everything out there in the world, but this kind of thing does not seem to be as common as the concept of being trapped in some kind of game, like how Yugi and his friends were trapped in Bakura’s tabletop RPG before the events of Duelist Kingdom in Yu-Gi-Oh! or Tsukasa being unable to log out in the .Hack series. As a result, I am kind of interested in seeing if they do figure out a way to determine whether individuals are human or not, especially since the aliens did plenty of research into human behavior and thought patterns. However, the human appearance of the aliens is not what has me very interested in the book’s world, as the aliens seem to have one thing in common with how much of Christianity thinks god looks like and that there are hints that they were not always like that. This kind of gets me as excited to figure things out as I get from all of the twists and surprises that crop up in Pandora Hearts, though three books is not really enough to maintain experience like that. There were also some funny scenes in the book, but nothing really stood out all that much, compared to other series I have encountered. Outside of those things, nothing else really stood out to me as a good thing about the book. The fact that I was pulled into the world within only a few pages, instead of a few hundred pages, and that there seems to be some unique ideas for the aliens in this series, some even creating mysteries that I want to know more about, made this a pretty decent read.

Although I liked quite a few things about the book, there are some issues. However, considering that there was nothing particularly wrong with the grammar or word usage, as far as I know, since I got this book in print, I only had major issues with two areas. First, the narration itself was very confusing. Like Allegiant, there was more than one narrator, but instead of two narrators that I could not really tell the difference between, there were, at most, four different narrators. However, unlike Allegiant, which focused solely on the first person point-of-view for all narrators, this book used both first person and third person omniscient points-of-view. Now, in the few books I have written myself, I have used multiple narrators, but this kind of mistake is far worse than anything I have done or encountered. If the book starts of with a first person point-of-view, I expect it to remain in the first person point-of-view, not go into third person omniscient all of a sudden. Is the really the work of an author that has either won awards for his books or had one or more of his works make onto the final list of considerations for prizes? Yes, this is my first experience with Rick Yancey’s work, but this seems like the work of an amateur, with the kind of information about him listed in the book. Not only does it switch the types narration, but also when it does use the first person point-of-view, I cannot really tell much of a difference between the narrators. While there are subtle hints later on in the book that tells me who is speaking, which is a bit better than how Allegiant handled multiple narrators, I had thought that the author made a mistake in the early portions, because all of the sudden the character being followed was referred to as a male, not a female like how this book first started, and the younger sibling was referred to as female, instead of male. In fact, it was not until the end of the first time that the character narrates the story that we find that Cassie is no longer the person being followed. Honestly, why do authors these days think that switching narrators is a good thing? If they want to show everything that is happening to the various characters and their thoughts, the third person omniscient point-of-view is the best kind of narration to use, because then one can easily transition to different places or situations of the characters without breaking the flow of things. After all, movies like the three Hunger Games movies seem to do a good job of adding in a few things to the story by utilizing a third person limited point-of-view. Also, if multiple narrators are being used I want to know that the narrators are different. However, I will give Rick credit for not switching narrators every chapter. That at least makes things a little easier to follow. Still, it does not change the fact that narration is one of the weakest elements in the book. The other thing that bugged me, though not as much as the narration, was the timeline of the events happening were all over the place. Once one set events happens, time rolls back and covers a different series of events up until it meets with the current timeline, and then it continues on, until it decides to repeat the cycle. Not only does time reverse in some places, but even the location changes from one place to another. You are not making a movie, Rick Yancey! This is a book and I expect things to continue as they were introduced and follow those events, not go all over the place like movies and television can and still make sense. Yet again, this is another thing that probably would not be much of a problem if Rick chose to use a third person omniscient point-of-view for the whole book, because there are things that can be used in that narration of narration that can easily deal with problems like this. Really, publishers these days are getting dumber by the second if books like these are being released to the public. While I do acknowledge that nothing man-made is perfect, there does need to be some set standard that must be followed no matter whether the person is an unknown writer or somebody as famous as Stephen King. Other than those two areas, there was something that kind of annoyed me because of the fact that it reminds me of the laziness that come from the teachings of the previous generations, though the future generation is become lazy is a different way. While there was not much that was wrong with the book, the problems that came because of the narration and how the events were handled did greatly hurt the quality of this book.

Despite the fact that there were things that I liked enough about the book to not hate it completely, the bad hurt the quality of book enough that the only reason the book should be read is to kill time, but it still worth at least giving a try.

What are your thoughts on The 5th Wave? Did you like or hate it? If you liked it, were there enough things that you liked to continue reading even though there were major problems, like I did, or did you not notice any glaring issues? Was there something that you liked or hated that went unmentioned in the review? Feel free to comment.

Use an app on your phone (e.g. Scan for Android) to capture the image above. If successful, you should be taken to the web version of this article.

Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.