On the second Monday of every month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
The Passage meets Ender's Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.
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 hope and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
First Line: "There will be no awakening." This is the first line of the prologue. Although many agents and editors advise against beginning your novel with a prologue these days, this one really works. The author keeps it to half a page, and what occurs in that half page is chilling enough to hook the reader instantly.
The first line of Chapter One: "Aliens are stupid." This does a good job of establishing the young adult voice immediately (not many adults would put it quite like that) and setting up that the aliens are, in fact, already here.
I'm a big fan of well-written sci-fi, and this book delivers. As the description says, it definitely has a similar feel to Ender's Game (reviewed by fellow blogger Jenn here), in that the kids and teenagers in the book are dealing with situations and events that would make most adults curl up in a ball on the floor.
Although it's not mentioned in the Goodreads summary above, the book also includes kids and teenagers going through military training and then deploying on missions to fight the aliens as a major plot point. I loved this section, as it was very reminiscent of one of my favorite classic sci-fi novels, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein (insider tip: read the book, but skip the movie!).
Notes for Writers:
Correct pacing is important for all types of books, but it's vital for sci-fi. If things unfold too slowly or there's too much time without much action, the reader gets bored. If the pace is too fast (what the movie trailer guy likes to call "Nonstop Action!"), the reader can feel like the characters aren't well-developed or that they'd like to put the book down to get a break. The 5th Wave has perfect pacing: not too fast, not too slow. I couldn't put the book down.
The characterization is also excellent. The main characters have been changed and hardened by their environment, but there are still flashes of the people they were before the invasion. It's this humanity that ends up propelling the plot forward.
A Good Read For:
Fans of sci-fi. If you're working on pacing or characterization in your own writing, this would be an excellent book to study.