Monday, 26 August 2013

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The story follows a couple narratives, the main one being Cassie, a 16 (ish, I think) year old girl. Cassie lives a normal life with her mum, dad and baby brother Sammy. She is invisible to the guy she has a crush on, worries about her hair and spends most of her time texting her best friend. Basically your standard teenager. However, her whole life gets flipped upside-down when the Mothership is seen orbiting Earth. Then the First Wave arrives - and there's no going back. We enter the story shortly after the Fourth Wave has ended. Cassie is camping in the woods, alone save for a teddy bear and a being in the dark.

When I first started reading this book I adored it. It was fast paced, exciting, you learn so much in such a short period of time and I raced through the first 60-100 pages. Cassie was a very real, down to earth character. Yancey does an excellent job of capturing the growth from girl to woman that Cassie is forced to prematurely experience (one line of the book mentions how she is worried that her supply of tampons will run out - which I loved as writers (especially male writers) tend to miss out).

I was surprised and a bit disappointed at first when the narrator changed, as it seemed a shame to move away from Cassie as she was becoming a fully fledged character. The other characters we follow aren't as well developed as Cassie initially, but they are engaging enough to sustain the plot, and I was looking forward to the point when the narratives collided.

However, I haven't only got praise for this book. One aspect of it very nearly put me off finishing it, mostly because I thought this book was better than the trope it used.

There will be sort of spoilers from this point on (concerning Cassie and Evan - both of whom the blurb of the book introduces), so read on at your peril if spoilers bother you.

-------- SPOILER WARNING ---------------------------------------------------------------

When Cassie first meets Evan, I'm ok with that. I understand that the author wanted to create a bit of romantic tension for his leading lady, and having her lusting after a guy who she's literally said a sentence to isn't the most engaging plot. When Evan kisses Cassie, that's when I get angry.

This kissing scene is described as a deeply romantic, sensual act. However, Evan essentially kisses Cassie against her will. We already know that he knows a lot more about Cassie than he's been letting on (and we later learn that he's been stalking her), and to add what can be described as sexual assault to this mix (and to portray it in a way which is meant to have teenage girls swooning) is disgusting and dangerous. I hate Evan and Cassies entire relationship - it's totally overdramatic and over the top. Whilst Zombie's relationship with Ringer is understated, natural and sweet, Evans and Cassie's is scary.

Not only this, but from the moment Cassie meets Evan most of her strength and conviction (her best and strongest personality traits) vanish, and she virtually regresses back into the teenage girl with a crush.From being such a strong female lead she turns into a girl who can't cope without her man. I thought this book was better than that, and Cassie's character was strong enough to sustain her part of the narrative. I understand why Evan was needed (from a knowledge point of view) but I don't understand why they had to be so overly 'romantic'.

This being said, the premise of the book was excellent and the execution (for the most part) was superb. I recommend reading it, so long as you can question the presentation you're given.

I gave it 3.5/5


Currently Reading: Vagina: a new biography by Naomi Wolf

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