Sometimes I think I might be the last human on Earth.
The first wave crippled power and communications. The second wave destroyed cities. The third wave, a cruel plague and four billion dead. By the fourth wave, all trust is gone. Is the soldier a fellow survivor or the enemy? When they look like us, there is no way to tell. Cassie’s father had told her how to spot an enemy in wartime but now he is dead and she is alone. Surviving one day at a time, sixteen-year-old Cassie has one goal; to find her little brother. She promised him she would return.
The 5th Wave is brilliant. If you only read one young adult book this year, make it this one. A real page turner, it kept me up reading well past my bed time and now I seriously want alien invasions to be the next big thing in publishing. It bounces around in the timeline of the invasion and between narrators but this does not slow down the pace at all. I was as invested in the story of The Arrival as I was in Cassie’s survival.
Aliens are stupid.
I’m not talking about real aliens. The Others aren’t stupid. The Others are so far ahead of us, it’s like comparing the dumbest human to the smartest dog. No contest.
No, I’m talking about the aliens inside our own heads.
I loved the idea that humans have concocted these theories about aliens, be it benevolent neighbours or aggressors that can be taken out by the military or an underdog. Even in our most challenging stories, humanity has the upper hand by the end. But here is a vision of hopelessness against an enemy that is winning. Humanity cannot fight back; humans can’t even trust one another. Cassie thinks she’s a cockroach compared to the aliens. They are so much more advanced, what are humans to them other than something that must be exterminated?
It’s been a long time since humans were prey animals. A hundred thousand years or so. But buried deep in our genes the memory remains: the awareness of the gazelle, the instinct of the antelope. The wind whispers through the grass. A shadow flits between the trees. And up speaks the little voice that goes, Shhhh, it’s close now. Close.
But wait, it is not a depressing read. The characterisation is all spot on and the chapters weave an intimate and human tale against the backdrop of mass destruction and fear. All the characters are completely believable although it is one of those books where you can’t be sure that they won’t be killed off. Perhaps some people might label certain plots points as predictable but the Silencer’s point of view before a key meeting is placed exactly to lead the reader to come to conclusions. It’s more about Cassie’s doubt and awareness of the situation. Will she realise? What will she do? From despair comes some incredibly moving moments.
He is tired, but he is also Bearless. The more he tries to forget Bear, the more he remembers him, the more he misses him, and the more he wishes he hadn’t left him behind.
Oh and Bear! I love Bear. OK, he’s an inanimate object but infused with all the personality that a child places on a favourite toy. Sammy leaves him with Cassie to keep her company and she promises to return him. It is the one thing that she clings to and so she never leaves Bear behind. Then she starts to have conversations with him (I have conversations with my own Bear, it’s perfectly normal) and I started to worry about him just as if he were a sentient character.
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