The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey Do you know why we will win this war? Why we cannot lose? Because we know how you think. We’ve been watching you for six thousand years. When the pyramids rose in the Egyptian desert, we were watching you. When Caesar burned the library at Alexandria, we were watching you. When you crucified that first-century Jewish peasant, we were watching. When Columbus set foot in the New World…when you fought a war to free millions of your fellow humans from bondage…when you learned how to split the atom…when you first ventured beyond your atmosphere…What were we doing?Why, Mr. Alien, you were watching us and twiddling your symbolic alien mustache of course! Yet that six thousand years of creeping on humanity doesn’t seem to have done you much good. Since your plan to kill the Earthlings and take possession of the planet (if that even IS your plan—unfortunately, Rick Yancey has left your intentions vague), well, that plan kind of sucked.Yancey’s alien species has decided to destroy humanity in waves—1st wave, 2nd wave, 3rd wave, 4th wave. Almost 7 billion humans, dead. Now it’s the 5th wave, a wave that will challenge what it means to be human. Here’s my question, though: if the aliens are oh-so-smart thanks to millions of years of evolution and as evinced by their fancy mothership, why are they killing humanity in waves? Why are they reverting to methods that allow plucky teenagers to fight back? Why can’t they simply exterminate all humans in a single blow? …I don’t know if there are any answers to those questions, so my first issue with The 5th Wave is a basic logic fail. Sorry, but I do not accept these premises!Considering the 7 billion death toll, the aliens are deadly, but to me, they were never scary. It's quite remarkable, really: How can a species kill 7 billion creatures and not be scary? By definition, shouldn’t aliens be ALIEN? Unrecognizable and terrifying? Yet these aliens seem so stupidly human. Their technology is similar—you got the drones, bombs, microchips, and guns—which again raises the question: these are our intellectual superiors? The pinnacle of the universe’s chain of being? Not buying it. And then their psychology is similar to humans’. Why are these non-human creatures getting bogged down by humanity? Humanity is just that—humanity. And these guys aren’t Homo sapiens. Why can’t they be truly frightening creatures that care nothing about us and act nothing like us? If these aliens are so similar to humans, I don’t even understand why they’re bothering to exterminate us. I’m sure we could find some room on Antarctica for our weird yet strangely human galactic cousins. So...logic fail number two! Aliens should be alien.I wanted—and needed—more information about the goals of the aliens (I should note that the book rarely describes them as aliens but as “Others”). To distinguish them from humans, I needed more backstory. All I have is questions: why are they on Earth? Just to colonize? What events on their original planet led to their arrival? But we don’t have these answers, so the aliens are mostly vacuous characters. Not horrifying, not sympathetic, not anything. Before I even encountered the aliens and the numerous logical concerns they raised, however, I had to slog through the beginning. For a book about the apocalypse, it’s not terribly exciting. In fact, it wasn’t until the final third or so that I became enraptured with the story and let go into the pure action. The writing is partly to blame for this. The writing can be too internal and focused on the minutiae of the characters’ thoughts. There are constant Go Humanity! pep talks where the story essentially stops for a page or two as a character epiphanizes and finds his or her apocalyptic gall. Some of them are rather charming—“I had it all wrong. Before I found you, I thought the only way to hold on was to find something to live for. It isn’t. To hold on, you have to find something you’re willing to die for.”—others are distracting. Even when the plot did kick up a gear, I remained mostly skeptical. I was never surprised and predicted all plot “twists.” And although I enjoyed the ending much more than the rest of the book due to its nonstop action, I found the climax to be too perfect. Everything comes to fruition too carefully, too obviously by design. Really, Cassie and Ben just HAPPEN to simultaneously launch Sammy/Nugget rescue attempts? Really, did it HAVE to be Ben Parrish, high school crush extraordinaire, who survived and then HAPPENED to befriend Cassie’s brother? It’s all just a little too perfect, even when taking into account that it’s a work of fiction. Also if this is going to become a love triangle in some way between Evan, Cassie, and Ben, then I’m out. I realize that the first part of this review is mostly composed of questions. Questions of logic, of whys and hows. But the questions I’m asking after closing the books are character questions—“Is Evan going to be okay? How will the gang survive after everything that happened? What’s going to happen to them next???” Those questions show that I care. I care about these characters and I want to continue reading about their struggles. And I guess, logic fails and all, that’s enough. Maybe.