From the BLURB:
How do you rid the earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.
Cassie Sullivan and her companions lived through the Others' four waves of destruction. Now, with the human race nearly exterminated and the 5th Wave rolling across the landscape, they face a choice: brace for winter and hope for Evan Walker's return, or set out in search of other survivors before the enemy closes in. Because the next attack is more than possible – it's inevitable.
No one can anticipate the depths to which the Others will sink – nor the heights to which humanity will rise . . .
*** This review contains spoilers for first book ‘The Fifth Wave’ ***
When we last left Cassie Sullivan, she’d been reunited with her little brother after storming Vosch’s command centre and discovering her high-school crush, Ben Parish, among a band of human mercenaries who had been brain-washed into believing they were fighting the alien invasion … without realising it was the aliens who had been training them.
But in finding her brother and breaking into the alien command centre, Cassie also lost the one person who had become so important to her since the First Wave hit …Evan Walker. Alien in a human body – Evan was the Silencer sent to kill Cassie, but instead he fell in love with her. Now, for all Cassie knows, he’s dead. Just like her mother, her father – and so many others.
Now Cassie is hanging out with a band of brother soldiers – a severely wounded Ben Parish, her little brother Sam (sometimes called Nugget), Dumbo, Poundcake, Teacup and Ringer (‘Marika’) – a particularly hardened soldier who is sent out to locate a new safe house for her crew. But Cassie wants to stay and wait for Evan – convinced that he’ll keep his promise to her, and return.
‘The Infinite Sea’ is the second book in Rick Yancey’s sci-fi young adult series, ‘The Fifth Wave’.
Between ‘TheFifth Wave’ and ‘The Infinite Sea’, it was announced that Rick Yancey’s first book in this new series would be adapted into a movie. And is it really any wonder? ‘The Fifth Wave’ was always destined for the big screen, when Yancey wrote such an addictive, alien-hordes thriller that was a fairly universally praised crowd-pleaser.
So going into ‘The Infinite Sea’ it’s all but impossible to not start thinking of how this story will likewise translate to the big screen - Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, If I Stay) will play Cassie Sullivan amongst a cast of relative unknowns (though Nick Robinson playing Ben Parish was great in The Kings of Summer, and will be an action-hero star by the end of 2015, as he’s also appearing in Jurassic World). Yancey and Susannah Grant will be writing the screenplay (Grant wrote Erin Brockovich) and Columbia Pictures are producing. And as if fans don’t have enough to get excited about with a ‘Fifth Wave’ adaptation, they’ll also be thrilled with this follow-up, which creeps us closer to the trilogy’s finale.
‘The Infinite Sea’ begins on the flipside of ‘The Fifth Wave’ high-octane opener, which saw protagonist Cassie trapped beneath a car on a deserted highway by a Silencer – an alien marksman. In this sequel’s opener readers find themselves in the calm before the storm. Our band of merry humans are holed up in a rat-infested motel, trapped by Ben Parish’s mortal wounds and Cassie’s determined belief that Evan Walker survived the attack and will be coming for her, to meet in this agreed-upon location. Everyone is on-edge, feeling not unlike sitting ducks. And, sure enough, the calm doesn’t last long – as is becoming Yancey’s MO in this series, a moment of peace and quiet for these characters will eventually equal adrenalin-fuelled terror in the coming pages and chapters.
Interestingly though, Yancey keeps swerving and cutting into the drama to make for a few cliff-hanger chapters. And unlike the first book, which saw Ben and Cassie sharing the alternate narrative, ‘The Infinite Sea’ expands to include perspective from Evan, Ringer and even Poundcake. This alternation heightened tension again and again, but also gave readers a chance to get inside the heads of these tricky characters in a way we wouldn’t be able to if only seeing them through Cassie and Ben’s eyes.
Evan’s chapters are particularly fascinating, as he’s an alien with the memories of his human-half. In this book he reflects on the moment when, as a teenager, he became aware of an ‘other’ occupying his mind;
His body had been augmented in preparation for his awakening. That was the truth the dream of the owl disguised. The secret that the screen memory kept him from seeing and therefore from remembering: While he and Grace and tens of thousands of children like them had slept, gifts had been delivered in the night. Gifts they would need in the years to come. Gifts that would turn their bodies into finely tuned weapons, for the designers of the invasion had understood a simple, though counterintuitive, truth: Where the body went, the mind followed.
A recurring symbol in this novel is ‘rats’ – the young army crew, youngest girl Teacup in particular, are haunted by the rats who scurry in the walls of the motel they’re holed up in. And a few alien characters allude to thinking of humans on this earth as rats – vermin, to be exterminated. It’s a disturbing, and bleak symbol to keep touching on, but an apt one for our humans to be preoccupied with. Even more interesting is that Yancey often parallels the rat discussions against more theological talk around what these humans are surviving for – hope, dissent, love? What hope do these humans have surviving against a far superior race, especially if they are the last humans on Earth? Ben Parish has a particularly poignant soliloquy on his longing for the tardy bell:
“Most ordinary sound in the world. And when all of this is done, there’ll be tardy bells again.” He presses the point. Maybe he’s worried I don’t get it. “Think about it! When a tardy bell rings again, normal is back. Kids rushing to class, sitting around bored, waiting for the final bell, and thinking about what they’ll do that night, that weekend, that next fifty years. They’ll be learning like we did about natural disasters and disease and world wars. You know: ‘When the aliens came, seven billion people died,’ and then the bell will ring and everybody will go to lunch and complain about the soggy Tater Tots. Like, ‘Whoa, seven billion people, that’s a lot. That’s sad. Are you going to eat all those Tots?’ That’s normal. That’s what matters.”
I love that: a teenage boy’s reason for combating an alien-horde is the hope that soggy Tater Tots will again be served. On the one hand it’s flippant and funny – but on the other, Ben Parish totally nails it.
A big drawcard of the first book was Cassie and Evan’s completely wonderful and complicated romance – alien boy falls in love with the human he was sent to eliminate. I think some readers will be somewhat less thrilled with the romance in this book, but as this is the second outing it’s not surprising that Yancey went for deeper explorations into Evan and Cassie’s complexity, rather than skimming over with kisses and puppy-dog eyes (something Cassie makes fun of).
I loved ‘The Infinite Sea’ – and I’m excited that 2015 will gift readers both a ‘Fifth Wave’ movie adaptation and the finale book in Rick Yancey’s addictive, adrenaline-fuelled trilogy. Bring on the alien-hordes, but pray for the tardy bell!