The Fifth Wave (book, Rick Yancy, 2013)

A review from SFX #235.


Rick Yancey


457 pages/£7.99/ 7th May

Potent YA alien apocalypse

Rick Yancey knows his onions; rarely is YA fiction as well honed as this. Aliens from a dying world decide they’d like Earth, minus occupants, and employ methods of extermination that are particularly inventive. Nothing new, but in the three teen and one child character’s emotional responses to the disaster the book packs real power. There’s the usual kids-as-heroes business, but they bleed for it. Otherwise this is dark, existential stuff. The meat of harrowing, late-night, early teen fears – mortality, responsibility, love, loneliness, disempowerment – dealt with, ultimately, comfortingly.

Yancey splits his action equally between male and female leads Ben and Cassie, and writes both in ways that will make the book appeal to adolescents of either sex. Cassie might be a little overly concerned with her looks and so forth in the context of the ongoing disaster, but her self-induced cringes as she claws her way to adulthood ensure instant connection with the reader.

Did you know?

Yancey also writes for adults. His first book, a memoir entitled Confessions of a Tax Collector, was named by The Wall Street Journal as one of the five best books on taxes ever written.