My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
There was SO MUCH buzz surrounding “The 5th Wave” when it came out that I actually started to worry before I’d even read it. Anytime I stumble across a new book that is hyped extensively by everyone who reads it, I become the cynic who turns to page one knowing she’s either going to be blown away or be thoroughly unimpressed.
While thoroughly unimpressed is a bit of an overstatement, I had no problems putting “The 5th Wave” down for weeks at a time until the final fifty pages or so. I was intrigued by the concept and the characters, but not enough to devour the book in one sitting or stay up half the night just to see what happens.
I really liked the opening of the story. Seeing Cassie compare her life just before the start of the invasion to her present existence was terrifying and heartbreaking, and more than a little creepy. There are very few apocalyptic or post apocalyptic novels that I’ve read–especially ones that veer toward science fiction or fantasy–where every link in the chain of events was believable. Yancey’s novel was a total exception to that rule, and the way its set-up made the unlikely seem totally possible was one of the strengths of the story.
For a novel touted as a page turner, I couldn’t help thinking that “The 5h Wave” suffered most from a dragging, at times disjointed middle section. The how and why of which characters were introduced and when, left me feeling almost too confused at times to enjoy the sense of impending doom facing these people I cared about. Yancey includes a couple different POV characters to take us through pieces of the story, but up until the final hundred pages or so, I had no idea which of the earlier, anonymous POVs matched some of the characters introduced later on.
Although that confusion didn’t irritate me enough to make me stop reading, it did hamper what might have been an otherwise smoother reading experience. Then again, this could very well just be an issue unique to my perspective.
What saved the book for me was the final section or three, the big climax where everything is going nuclear at once, so to speak. If I spent most of the story waiting for something to break my heart or turn my stomach or make me cheer, the ending delivered on all three of those and more. I’ll probably pick up the sequel, but I’ll definitely be going in with adjusted expectations.