See my review of this book, and many more, at Tales from the Great East Road.
Anyone who believed that the first contact with aliens would be peaceful was dead wrong. And after the first four waves, probably just plain dead too.Cassie may be the last person on earth. At least, alone in the woods after watching her life and the whole world being destroyed by the 'Others', that's her fear. The looming spaceship hovering over Earth that appeared a several months ago did not come in peace. In a few short weeks they unleashed four waves of attack: an electromagnetic pulse that wiped out all electronics, an earthquake that causes a tsunami, the Red Plague that made people bleed out of every orifice, and people turning on other people who may or may not be the Other's in disguise. Now all Cassie has left is a gun, her brother's ratty old teddy bear, and a promise to keep. A promise to rescue her five year old brother Sammy, at any cost.
"Sometimes in my tent, late at night, I think I can hear the stars scraping against the sky."
The first quarter of this novel, describing Cassie surviving on her own, was easily my favourite part. The sense of loneliness and isolation is captured in a haunting and beautiful way. The story of how she ended up in the woods, of how the aliens attacked Earth, intertwined with Cassie's survival builds tension as you slowly see all the death that surrounds her. From the incomprehensibly huge numbers of people killed in the first waves, to the intimate death of her parents, this novel begins in such a disturbing and heart-wrenching way. The fact that it is called The 5th Wave leaves you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next attack. This is how alien novels should be: realistically terrifying, where the characters are unable to trust anyone or anything.
That being said, I don't feel the rest of the novel quite lived up to this amazing beginning.I enjoyed Cassie, Sammy, and (to an extent) the solider "Zombie". I felt Cassie was interesting, funny, and fiercely determined, and Sammy was so sweet I just wanted him to be safe. Zombie's inner thoughts compared to his actions, constricted by his military life style, maked him an interestingly conflicted character. However, his chapters were where I became slightly bored as I felt he suppressed himself too much and the constant military routines just didn't interest me that much. My interest was caught again when a new solider "Ringer" was introduced: she was smart, badass, and willing to stand up against their superiors when she sensed something was wrong. I want to see a lot more of her.
The character I had the biggest problem with was Evan. The romance between him and Cassie was just too intense too fast, nearly all from his side. I can understand falling into a romance after being alone for so long, but then claiming that this person is your only reason to live after only knowing them for a few days is too much. He also seems untrustworthy, sneaking around using the "it's for your own protection" excuse that has been over used in YA books for far too long. I'm hoping he gets more development in further books. (Speaking of the next books and over used themes, please let there be no Cassie/Evan, Cassie/Zombie love triangle.)
The writing, for the most part, was very good. It was very atmospheric and as I said before the tension building was excellent. Yet, along with the middle section which slowed down and became a bit boring, there were points with Cassis were she kept repeating phrases like "I must trust him. I can't trust him.". This was used over and over, in this same style which got increasingly annoying each time it was used. The end of the book picked up again, thankfully, and ends on a very interesting, but slightly abrupt cliffhanger (I turned the next page expecting more, only to find it was over). I will be back for more in the next book, as I really want to see what happens next.