The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey was one of the most popular Young Adult books in 2013. The sequel The Infinite Sea hit stores this September. We take a look at the dystopian novel.
In The Fifth Wave, humanity had been close to eradicated by an alien life force who attacked in waves. The fifth wave: human children and teenager trained to hunt survivors.
Its successor, The Infinite Sea, starts out very promising with chilling prologue featuring a harrowing new weapon of mass destruction. After this bright start, Mr. Yancey takes the reader to the group of survivors of The Fifth Wave and main protagonists of the first novel.
At the start of the second book, readers find Cassie Sullivan and Ben Parish (called Zombie) waiting for Evan Walker, the love interest of Cassie, who unfortunately also belongs to the Others (the Alien life force).
Mr. Yancey then proceeds to tell the story of the group using different first-person narrators involving pretty much everyone the group. While these perspectives are welcome and inject variety into the story, the quality of the writing differs from character to character.
A Distinct Lack of Action Weakens the Story
In The Fifth Wave the world was built up carefully with flashbacks illustrating the fall of the human reign on Earth. With his words, Mr. Yancey conjured a sense of dread and danger as readers followed the path of Cassie Sullivan who believed to be the only human left. As she is proven wrong, more actions and steps are taken towards surviving.
Unfortunately, most of these elements are absent in The Infinite Sea. While the flashbacks, looking at the previous lives of the characters, are some of the strongest elements of the story, the Others never seem a menacing and world-conquering force as they did before. This might have been intended by the author. What suffers is the dense atmosphere that lacks the sense of urgency associated with the danger and threat of the Others.
The main issue with the novel is the lack of development and movement. Only one of the main characters goes through any kind of development and even her development is predictable and unoriginal. The main group not only remains in the same physical place for most of the novel, but also in the same mindset.
Mr. Yancey doesn’t put his considerable world building skills to use, but opts for a more claustrophobic setting instead. This makes the book a gripping and thrilling, but ultimately unsatisfying, read. The chapters go from cliffhanger to cliffhanger, but the question at the end of the book remains: What exactly has happened?
Unfortunately the answer for most of the characters is: not much. They’re still out there, further away from survival and as at the beginning of the book waiting for someone else to show up who might lead their way to either salvation or doom.
The Curse of the Second Book
The second book of series is normally the hardest, as reader’s expectations can doom a book from the beginning and authors aren’t able to tell the whole story. Maybe all of it will become clear in the third book. Readers invested in the characters from the first book, should take a look at The Infinite Sea just to know how the story continues. Others might want to wait for the end of the trilogy to see if Mr. Yancey can recapture the magic of The Fifth Wave.