Published by Penguin Australia on May 7th 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
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After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
You know when you finish a book and it leaves you without an impression? That’s how I feel about The 5th Wave. It was actually quite a long and convoluted book, with many varying points of views (some completely unnecessary and which did not impact the story at all). But upon finishing, I didn’t get the answers I wanted, for why the alien invasion was occurring and why they’re just not killing the humans. I’m hoping that this will be answered in later books because it was a frustrating experience all round.
Cassie, the main character, made questionable decisions which made me facepalm. Why would you carry around a stupid teddy bear that you promised to bring back to your brother? It occurs late in the book to her that maybe that wasn’t the smartest idea after all. Even her little brother Sammy seemed to have more smarts than Cassie, being inducted into the army at 6 years old. Yes, he has to learn to shoot an M16 and follow orders at 6 years old (how can he even carry the thing?). Another thing that stretched the realms of believability.
The romance was also awkward and fast moving, with Evan being creepily obsessed with Cassie after saving her. While Cassie is running from her stalker-murderer, she decides to hole up with the first hot guy she sees instead of focusing on her mission. They spend some time together in a cabin, and all of a sudden he throws out the L word which took me off guard (is it just me or does this happen a LOT?). I also sense an impending love triangle in the later books.
The prose was in first person and awkward, with some of their internal thoughts italicised but others not. This felt really stunted and did not flow smoothly. Switching between chapters would sometimes change the character perspectives, but it doesn’t really tell you at the beginning of each chapter who the character is. You’ll just have to work it out for yourself, which I found jarring.
However, it wasn’t all bad. The aliens as streams of consciousness was fascinating, lying in wake and watching the human race until they could take over (but then why did they bother with the 5th Wave?!). The concept of staging 5 Waves to kill the human population in different ways was also interesting, and kept me reading until the end. But I was pretty frustrated about not having any of my questions answered.
While I liked the army action, the post-apocalyptic alien setting and wanted to know more about the aliens, not being able to connect to the characters made it difficult to care about them upon finishing the book. I felt completely apathetic upon finishing it and I’m hoping the movie is better.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Thanks Penguin Random House for the review copy of this book.
Movie Review: A Pleasant (Cheesy) Surprise
So the movie was better. I didn’t have high expectations after the book, but it surprisingly exceeded them, as cheesy as it was.
The plot and dual perspectives were more cohesive, interchanging the military sequences with Cassie’s survival out in the wilderness and getting to know Evan. It fixed up the pacing problems in the book and was thrilling and action-packed all the way through.
The wave sequences at the start of the movie had some pretty impressive special effects, with the aliens attacking the Earth swiftly and effectively. You could see how the human race started dropping off after electricity, disease, and natural disasters.
Chloe Grace Moretz made a great Cassie too, convincingly showing us just how scary it is to be the last one standing in your family. Lack of self preservation and survival skills aside, she conveys how she’s just a ‘normal’ teenage girl who’s just lost her family and wants to be reunited with her brother. As with the book, she does trust Evan a bit too quickly after telling us that no one can be trusted, and totally gets swayed by his good looks and pecs. BUT she’s just running with the source material, and I think the actress did a great job regardless.
Can we just talk about Alex Roe, who plays Evan Walker? I found him super creepy in the book, being overly attentive to Cassie after ‘saving’ her. But everything that Evan does can be forgiven in the movie because he’s so easy on the eyes and so freaking kickass. Although he’s a bit too perfect, his awesome superhuman powers, attentiveness and cheesy lines totally made me an Evan shipper. Also not sure if he had those powers in the book? Anyway…
The romance was a total cheese-fest, especially given some of the corny dialogue that the actors blurt out, like “I choose you”. In the book, some of the scenes are changed (for example, I don’t remember them kissing in the book) but are more palatable to the movie goer. It’s like everyone who survives the first 4 waves are only supermodels, with Evan maintaining a perfectly shaven 5 o’clock shadow and Cassie with her perfectly curled locks. No one needs to eat, go to toilet or take a bath in this movie which is hilarious, given the circumstances.
The love triangle seems to be emphasised in the movie too, with less of a relationship build up between Ben and Ringer. I was rolling my eyes during the face-off between the two love interests. My gosh it was so cheesy I could’ve died.
There were quite a few twists in the book, but during the movie they were made to be completely obvious, particularly during the military sequences. Seeing 5 year old Sammy and 8 year old Teacup donned in military gear and holding up guns was absolutely ridiculous, as expected. But the movie cuts down on a lot of their training time and dialogue, simply brushing over it to focus on the romance.
While the movie served up more cheese than a New York pizza, it was actually a great adaptation that was faithful to the book. It improves on aspects which the book stumbles upon and makes it enjoyable for the movie goers and fans of the series. Just don’t expect it to be the next Hunger Games.
Verdict: See it if you’re a fan.
Thanks to Dymocks Books and Penguin Teen Australia for the opportunity to see the movie!