[REVIEW] The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

Characters – 4/5
Plot – 4/5
Style – 4/5
World building – 4/5
Overall – 4/5

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way. I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”

They arrived on an average day without warning or fanfare, the Mothership hanging over Manhattan like it belonged there. Aeroplanes dropped from the sky, tsunamis and earthquakes destroyed entire coastlines, and the Pestilence took four billion humans with it. Isolated and terrified, the survivors are ripe for hand-picking. Now they are with us, walking in our skins and killing us with our own hands. Nobody can be trusted.

Cassie is on her own. She has survived the 3rd Wave and is managing to eke out on existence in the 4th. She knows the 5th Wave is coming, not when or what or how, but she knows it will come, because the Silencers won’t stop until every last human is silenced. Searching for her little brother after their separation at Camp Ashpit, she refuses to break the promise she made him. Zombie is training to become an alien-killing machine and Evan is just trying to follow his heart.

One of my favourite features of THE 5TH WAVE was the way each character’s storyline began separately and eventually became woven together. Rather than chapter-by-chapter changes, their stories are told in segments, ending each time on perfect, tension-building cliffhangers. This method certainly made for a more dynamic and intricate story-telling experience.

There are some truly thought-provoking and moving moments in THE 5TH WAVE, considering what it really means to be human in a world stripped back to its most basic nature. With just the right amount of humour and teenage dreams, the plot is fast-paced and full of energy. The threat of capture and death is tangible and hangs over the characters constantly, making for an exciting and powerful story.

The story of Cassie and her family takes place against the classic apocalypse backdrop: not quite deserted forests, conflicted survivor camps, lonely highways and the looming watchers above.. Uncomfortably realistic and set firmly in the modern-day, the many scenes of Cassie’s travels feel like an eerie reflection of what our world could be if aliens really didn’t want us around.

The few protagonists and their friends appear to be quite well-rounded and come complete with one fully realised, heartbreaking back story or another. Some characters, such as Ringer, remain charmingly enigmatic, keeping enough secrets to make her interesting. Evan in particular is complex and intriguing, with motives and a history I enjoyed puzzling out. There’s a lot of development in Zombie in particular as he learns the art of war and what it truly is to be brave, while Cassie’s evolution creeps up on her and takes her cold-hearted distrust by surprise.

My only real disappointment with THE 5TH WAVE was that each character didn’t have a completely unique or distinct voice. The style in general was excellent across the board regardless of which character was in charge, but without context I found it difficult to distinguish between Cassie and Zombie. They each had subtle quirks and I especially enjoyed Cassie’s internal conversations with herself, but stylistically there was little to make each one instantly recognisable.

THE 5TH WAVE has the makings to be a brilliant young adult scifi series, with THE INFINITE SEA already available and a third installment on the way. Frantic and believable, every page is completely absorbing with the perfect combination of an unearthly atmosphere and the human condition.


[REVIEW] Brood – Chase Novak

Characters – 3/5
Plot – 3/5
Style – 3/5
Setting – 3/5
Overall – 3/5

In a Tweet
Teens born from an experimental fertility treatment are becoming cannibalistic & wild. Can Cynthia keep her twins safe or will they succumb?

Set in a modern New York City, BROOD tells the increasingly fraught tale of twins Adam and Alice Twisden. Sequel to BREED, I picked it up without having read the first book and it told a complete story with no assumption of knowledge of previous events.

Cynthia has finally won the custody battle for her niece and nephew, years after her sister met a gruesome end in the very house she now lives in. After their parents underwent gruelling and dangerous fertility treatment abroad, the twins have experienced true horror as they bore witness to the vicious and animalistic behaviour of their parents. Now Adam and Alice are growing up, they are desperately struggling to slow the effects of their own changing and suppress the same wild urges that plagued their parents.

The concept behind BROOD is something really different and intriguing; definitely an idea I haven’t encountered before. Even better was the choice to situate the events in a modern and realistic world, rather than a science fiction or alternate setting. This created some great underlaying social questions too; would people really resort to this dangerous fertility treatment in real life? The wild and frightening effects of the treatment and the children it created are swept under the rug and kept top secret in Novak’s world; I wonder how they would be handled in reality?

The first few chapters didn’t really grab me in any strong clear way, so it took me a little longer than I would have liked to get stuck into the story. However once I’d scoped out the characters, I did find myself really involved with the plot and constantly trying to guess how the story would pan out. It was difficult to predict the progression of the story one chapter to the next, making for a pretty exciting read in the long run.

My favourite part of Novak’s writing was the pidgin language he created for the feral children in Rodolfo’s gang. It really set them apart as a community and highlighted their differences from the adults without having to constantly refer to their physicality. The writing didn’t spark the terror I want from a horror novel, but the tension was built pretty well throughout the novel so I wasn’t too put out by this.

While I enjoyed the truly fresh story, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with the ending. I would have been happy for the story to end with the final chapter rather than continuing on in the epilogue. The epilogue just didn’t seem to fit the climax at all, so it felt out of character and at odds with what would have been the logical ending.

While I didn’t find any of the characters particularly endearing, I don’t believe you have to like each one to understand and appreciate their stories. Cynthia was especially frustrating, and I much preferred to follow the twins and Rodolfo in their more exciting threads. Cynthia’s voice is suffocating and over-stuffed with the adoration and fear of a new mother, but definitely illustrates her creeping realisation that she is out of her depth. Alice and Adam can be vicious and cruel and most of the side characters are varying degrees of evil too, which were more fun to read.

I thought, overall, that BROOD was an easy and enjoyable read. It wasn’t quite the bone-chilling horror story I wanted, but I will still be going back to read BREED to find out more about Alice and Adam’s troubled childhood.

I received BROOD from Mulholland Books in exchange for an honest review. My reviews always represent my own true opinion.