Not gonna lie, I intentionally delayed reading this.
This was easily the noisiest release in my feed this year. I think for a few weeks my feed was flooded with equal amounts of cheers and jeers for this book from a mixed bag of readers. Which is always the kind of book you pick up just to see where you stand… after the rubble has settled (as opposed to books that have 5-stars all over because those are just silly).
Now I haven't read ANY of Stephenie Meyer's books, vampire-related or otherwise, so I'm coming from that perspective. There were things that worked for me and things that didn't. I saw a lot of readers say things took a turn for the worse when the romance was introduced. I beg to disagree. Although, just to be clear, romance in a dystopian setting is hardly encouraging to use love as a plot device. It has been successfully done yes, but it is tricky to pull off. You consider survival logistics, hygienic issues etc. and, at the back of my mind, I always think… well, of course the hot guy will be attracted to the plain heroine, she's possibly one of the few last pairs of ovaries walking around.
Where was I?
Yes, I beg to disagree because while that plotline was indeed gag and eye-roll worthy I was still engrossed enough in the mystery of who are the bad guys beyond that point. That was what held this book together for me I feel. It satisfied the overthinking paranoid reader in me. This is my first Rick Yancey read and I find he's quite adept at keeping me interested and wondering out loud what the fuck is going on. I did figure out "the twist" ahead of the actual reveal but it was cleverly put together, in a manner made me doubt and redoubt my theories several times over. He has a talent in making you feel like Jon Snow.
This was told in a couple of POVs: Cassie Sullivan, The Silencer and Zombie. They play for certain Teams (Us or Them) which is the source of this book's tension. There's one chapter told from Sammy Sullivan's POV because we need to appreciate the teddy bear's significance in the context of aliens having invaded the Earth. Or something. Sometimes it's told in the third person POVs of each character and sometimes it's in first person POV… and the shift happens in the middle of chapters or when it strikes Yancey's fancy (heh). Which was surprisingly seamless and something I am acknowledging as this side of brilliant.
I quite liked the concept of aliens coming here to decimate our population in strategic waves, it was unique and credible. I loved Zombie's storyline and everything that happened in Camp Haven was pretty gripping and gut burning in intensity. I'm a bit on the fence about the repeated mentions of silver cords, chess, "being the bullet", circles and some zen themes from different POVs because it felt a little forced and redundant for me.
It seems all my problems are tied up with Cassie. The strong heroine who started off armed with a witty perspective and an M-15 was diminished to a swooning teenager with a thing for chocolate breath and impeccably groomed strangers. It was such a jarring shift. She did not behave the way I expected her at all when that plot development was thrown her way. She turned Crisco the Greasy Grave Robber into a psych whiz.
"Here, I got you something," Crisco said. It was a diamond pendant necklace. Body booty from the ash pit.
"That's disgusting," I told him.
"Why? It's not like I stole it or anything." He pouted. "I know what it is. I'm not stupid. It's not the necklace. It's me. You'd take it in a heartbeat if you thought I was hot."
Further on, she proved him right. Several time over. It doesn't matter what went on in her mind, if she hesitated or if the decision making was rational… it's still what she did, how she acted that matters to me. I think the bigger message of what makes us different, what makes us human and them "The Others" got miserably lost in that ill-conceived, poorly built romance. It all went into a disappointing descent from well-orchestrated mindfuckery and intensity
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, not staying, 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.
He drops into the room, landing on the balls of his feet like a cat. I'm in his arms in the time it takes to say "I love you," which he does, stroking my hair, whispering my name and the words, "My mayfly."
Though to be fair he did live in a house with a shelf-full of bodice-rippers and the apocalypse CAN get a little boring, I guess. So maybe that's the excuse.
I can't say it was an outright terrible book but the things that niggled, bothered me pretty bad. So much so that I am practically resolved to not continue with the series anymore seeing as the clever mystery of what the 5th Wave is will probably not be in the bigger picture for the next books. I'm certainly not looking forward to knowing what became of Evan and I'm not really digging the whole Ringer-Ben-Cassie dynamic to give this another go.