Book Review – ‘The Last Star’ by Rick Yancey

An ending to the trilogy – executed like a belly-flop.

The Last Star Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 338

From Goodreads:

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

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I was really excited to read the final chapter in the Fifth Wave trilogy. Notoriously the last books in a series are where you get the bang for your buck; and considering that the second instalment was a little *bleh* I was looking forward to a momentous culmination reminiscent of its debut. But this book was underwhelming, I kinda liked it, but it lacked punch.

There was a lot of head jumping. To the point where it became confusing. Especially towards the end with the introduction of new characters. It was hard to connect with the narrative because of the constant changing of POV. Much more so than its predecessors combined. It sucked the emotion out of what could have been a satisfyingly gut wrenching book. I mean we are in the death throes of an alien invasion, don’t know who to trust, who’s the enemy – it’s high stakes drama. And it left me feeling yeah, okay… umm nice?

With a lot of the “alieness” about the invasion still feeling unsubstantiated and irrelevant; because it’s an alien, there are no human rules to attribute to the way we were invaded… All those answers I was hoping to get – well they were explained, but just not as astounding as I wanted them to be. This is the final book, the climax right? There was all this hype, all this desperate clamour for survival and then *plink* – where was the big splash?

Again, ‘The Last Star’ fell victim to the issues I had with ‘The Infinite Sea.’ We start the trilogy off with Cassie, connecting with her plight and personal story, and then in the last two books we get very little of her POV. Really disappointing. Why set up a precedence in the first novel and not follow it through? I got very frustrated.

The story is still interesting, and I enjoyed the plot, but it lacked the soul and desperation I was craving. Introducing new characters so late in the series, and not having them built up and established in previous volumes made it hard to care about them at all. It left me feeling a little cheated. I put a lot of investment in Cassie and was dished up with so many other characters… grrr.

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It’s not a bad book, the writing is still top notch, the story line is complex and interwoven through all the characters, though it failed to tug at my heart strings. It felt stale. This series had a character-driven start, and a plot-driven end.

I found in last few chapters there was a lot of repetition, killing the pace and pulling me from the narrative. I really think all that changing of perspective did a massive disservice to this book.

And ultimately, I did not particularly enjoy the ending. So while all of the tools of great novel writing were there – it failed to get me emotionally invested. So, it’s a lack-lustre review from me, and not something I would not recommend. Read the first book, see the movie. But the rest you can skip. You won’t be missing much.

Overall feeling: well, that happened…

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Infinite Sea’ by Rick Yancey

This sci-fi dystopian adventure is slowly roping me in.

The Infinite Sea Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: YA, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 320

From Goodreads:

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

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I took a long time to build up to reading ‘The Infinite Sea’ after many of my friends gave this a less than stellar review. In hindsight I can understand why they did, but I also loved the story. But at least, for the middle book in a trilogy it didn’t feel like it was treading water.

I managed to get plenty of surprises. I did not guess many of the plot twists either, so that’s a wonderful thing. Either Yancey’s writing style is better in this book, or I noticed it more. Some of his descriptions, dialogue and snippets of expression were truly brilliant.

What did bother me – and in a major way – was the jumping around with the narrative. So many points of view, picking up different parts of the story. ‘The Infinite Sea’ felt more like a collection of novellas in the same universe than and actual book. In a way I felt cheated. In ‘The Fifth Wave’ we get a big chunk of Cassie, and smaller parts from Evan, Ben and Sam, This second book was proportionally different and even introduced more characters voices. As much as I loved the story – this style of jumping into so many different character heads just killed it for me. I really think Rick Yancey should have adopted an omnipresent narrative style like Stephen King to tell this trilogy and it would have been executed so much better.

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There is a lot of action. It starts off with a bang, and ends with one. So pacing is not an issue. Contrastingly, there were a few moments that I found boring as cast branched off in backstory or storytelling, but on the whole it’s an engaging read.

I’m definitely curious for the final book ‘The Last Star.’ The sci-fi element has got me hooked and I am really interested to see where it all goes. I have so many questions about the invasion that didn’t make sense in the first book, and getting a hint to a possible explanation has me hungry to find out the truth. Please, please, let there be an explanation in the final novel.

I know that a movie adaptation for ‘The Infinite Sea’ is still up in the air, and honestly, after reading the book, I’m not entirely sure it would work given that Cassie is absent for over half the book. I’m not sure how that would go down with audiences… but who knows what Hollywood magic they will perform. I mean look at ‘New Moon’ from the Twilight Saga – they still got a lot of Edward onto the screen where in the book he was only present for a few chapters… food for thought.

Overall feeling: Too many voices.

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle


© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The 5th Wave – Book Review

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle

Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction, dystopia

No. of pages: 457

From Goodreads:
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 trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

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The Fifth Wave combined many aspects I love, (and many I dislike) but enabled to keep me hooked until the last page. Rick Yancey brings the realism of survival at the feet of an alien invasion in bright, bloody and disparaging technicolour.

I know this book is currently in pre-production for a film staring Chloe Grace Mortez, one of my favourite young actors, and I’m hoping that some of the failings in the novel don’t make it to the screen – if they are able to ignore the large plot and scientific shortcomings it has the potential to outshine the novel ten-fold. Let’s hope it sticks to the original content and doesn’t stray into being too much like ‘Bodysnatchers.’

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle 09The story itself was highly entertaining, I love battles against the odds, and science fiction, so combining both of these ensured this title was in my library. The main character, Cassie Sullivan reacted to the events described in the novel in such a raw and organic way, it was easy to put myself in her place. Instead of being the big superhero, Cassie’s survival skill kicked in, tuning into that pre-evolutionary instinct to run and hide. It was this aspect that kept me reading. If she had immediately turned into a super soldier I would have discarded the book right then and there.

The alien invasion and military angle throughout the book made less sense. The premise of ‘waves’ from a technologically advanced species; especially after reading about some of their advancements (space travel, teleportation, biological warfare), a passive invasion, even on the pretence of being careful not to damage the Earth’s ecosystem was untenable. It is quite possible that from the unreliable and adolescent point of view of Cassie’s that the real circumstances were not so – but this fact is never made clear. In addition, the conspiracy and military actions were also far fetched for such a superior civilization. For me, these facts had the aliens looking stupid – almost juvenile. Granted the premise for the story is ingenious – conquering in waves – but its execution pathetic.

The other aspect that had me cringing, and as much as I liked Cassie, she came across as fickle in the face of the world ending with boy problems. It wasn’t handled well at all. With people dying around her, her family struggling to live, and hiding in a crumbling town, her woes that Ben Parish, the cute boy at school was just as important had me gagging. If Rick understood girls at all, he should have played with her vulnerabilities in relation to her wanting to feel beautiful, and for things to go back to normal when dealing with these feelings to avoid the sudden change of focus. It felt cold and unnecessary in the beginning of her story.

The 5th Wave Review by Casey Carlisle 02Other than that, the characters felt real and well-rounded. You could see motivations other than survival in different hues within the cast. The helplessness of human efforts, despair, self-sacrifice, came shining through. The graphic descriptions and action did not shy away from violence or impact of losing a loved one in the throws of war as things that occur daily adding a vulnerability and realism in Cassie’s world.

About two-thirds into the novel there is a change in point of view to Ben Parish (a.k.a. Zombie), which I felt was left too late in the story. You’ve invested a lot in Cassie and her plight, and then – yoink! Normally a change in storytellers play off each other, which this did to a degree – but I felt it cheated by using it as a tool to fill the reader in on important information on the invasion rather than develop Cassie’s character further.

The pacing of the novel was enthralling, granted there were a few spots where I put the book down because it was losing me, but overall I kept at it and completed the entire story in a few days. Rick Yancey’s style is pleasant to read, and certainly adds to Cassie’s inner machinations.

It reminded me a lot of the television series ‘Falling Skies’ and if you enjoyed watching that, then this is a book for you.

Judging The Fifth Wave solely on its storytelling, I’d have to reward it with four kisses rather than fall into a philosophical debate on advanced technology and civilizations. I’ve yet to read the next in the series, but will definitely give it a go, hoping that ‘The Infinite Sea’ uses the maturity Cassie has achieved to shed some light on the problems overlooked here.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.