Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

(In which humanity ain't got no Jedi knights.)

I did it again.

Saw a cool trailer.

And another cool trailer.

Watched the movie. And then read the original novel.

In the beginning, I didn't really watch the movie because of the plot since I am not that fond of alien-related movies. In fact, I have just watched Star Wars episode 1 to 6 in December -- just in time before the seventh episode came out, because, FOMO maybe? But what really got me to watch The 5th Wave is -- wait for it -- Nick Robinson. 

Maybe another reason why I read the novel was FOMO, or Nick Robinson -- or maybe both.

The premise of the novel wasn't really something extraordinary. In fact, it's somehow been a formula: aliens attack Earth, Earthlings defend it (or try to), a war ensues, and more often than not, the Earthlings win. Put in some romance and a lot of gory death, and you've got just another alien movie.

Unless this one's not just another alien movie.

In most fiction that involves an apocalypse by way of alien invasion, the evil guys often resort to quick annihilation. Imagine Darth Vader in the Death Star (and don't forget the Imperial March!). But the way the alien invaders in the 5th Wave chose to "rid Earth of humans" is much crueler. they chose to do it in steps or waves.

During the First Wave, they shut off the grid. In the Second Wave, they created natural disasters. Then, they made the avian flu virus evolve in the Third Wave. By the Fourth Wave, the "lucky" survivors will be hunted down by mercenaries. Those who still survive will be taken care of by the Fifth Wave.

After these waves, 7 billion people on Earth have been wiped out. And the "lucky" ones left were just corpses waiting to happen.

These lucky people were composed mostly of teenagers and children, each with their own horrible stories of loss to tell. Sixteen-year-old Cassie witnessed the death of her parents, and watched helplessly as her brother was taken by the military to safety. Desperate to keep a promise to her brother, she struggled to stay alive. But not without the help of the mysterious Evan Walker. Her thoughts were often filled by memories before the arrival of the aliens -- or Others. At times, she thought of Ben Parish, the hot guy who never know she exists.  When all of their paths cross, they finally have an idea of what humanity is really up against.

Reading the first chapter of The 5th Wave was like feeling your heartbeat -- simple sentence after simple sentence. Not that it's a bad thing. In fact, it makes one understand the cruciality of the situation. I mean, who has time to process compound-complex sentences when you're barely surviving? 

There were moments, of course, when I do a double-take on Cassie's (and mostly every teenage character's) personality as I try to grapple with the idea that sixteen-year-olds like her can be that tough. Or maybe I was just measuring the scenarios using my sixteen-year-old self, which, honestly, isn't a very good yardstick. But still, I often have difficulty grasping the fact that humanity's future lies on the hands of juveniles battling extraterrestrial (or paranormal, in other cases) villains. But I know this is YA, so I'll chill.

The love story part wasn't boring, actually. Nor is it something that makes me want to curl into a ball and purr like a cat. The conversations helped a lot in building Cassie and Evan's characters, though. But, at some point I was afraid that Evan Walker is channeling his inner Edward Cullen, but then again, don't most heroes do? Cassie's no Bella, though. And that's a very good thing. The girl's kickass!

The reality factor of the story comes in whenever a character is faced with human internal crises that will make Erik Erikson proud: identity confusion, trust vs. mistrust, intimacy vs. isolation -- you get the idea. These parts are my favorites, and usually the ones that kept me awake in the middle of the night.

The novel made me, once again, think of what matters in life and how much I'm willing to sacrifice in order to live and save someone's life. It made me learn the value of making choices and keeping promises. Also, it gives lessons on how to keep one's self alive in case of an apocalypse. That may come in handy. That is, if ever I get past Wave 3.

Currently reading:

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

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