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Why I Didn’t Finish the Fifth Wave

5thwaveI was excited about the Fifth Wave. After all, before publication I was primed with marketing materials (first few chapters snagged at a conference), and I eagerly devoured them. I even had the classic, “I wish I had written this” yearning after reading those intro pages. All good signs.

And when I re-read those first chapters after publication, I felt even more confident I would blaze through this book and finish at 2AM, with a guilty, satisfied smile. The beginning of the book was paced decently, the protagonist, Cassie, was sassy and interesting, and the terrifying state of post-apocalyptic Earth fit with what would really happen if ultra-advanced aliens set their sights on our planet. (less E.T. and more Half-Life 2)

Alas.

Let me back up and give the synopsis. The Fifth Wave is about Cassie, one of the last survivors of the first four waves of mysterious alien attacks that have wiped out billions of humans. Humanity is teetering near extinction, but Cassie is determined to survive. She camps in the woods alone, kills, feels guilty, interacts with interesting family members, tries to figure out who is an enemy and who is a friend, etc. The story is told in first-person from her point of view, and I liked that approach. She’s also a book-lover and lugs around some favorite tomes–limited backpack space and alien apocalypse be damned.

The whole first third of the book is tinged with a gritty, desperate air of mass extinction and survival at all costs. Like The Walking Dead, but better.

[some spoilers below ]

The book goes downhill, fast, when the author (Rick Yancey), decides to jump POV to Cassie’s little brother, Sammy. Then he jumps to a mysterious stranger dude, Evan, who saves Cassie and starts a creepy, awkward relationship with her. Then another guy, Ben, who is important to Cassie and is part of the brainwashing military compound.

Basically, once Evan entered the picture and gave Cassie a weird bath, I was done. I just didn’t know I was done for a few more chapters. All the head-switching was difficult to follow, and all the characters but Cassie either annoyed me or creeped me out.

Plus, even though I didn’t read to the end, I could see the plot coming a mile away. Who is mysterious Evan? You’ll figure it out many moons before the author thinks you will. And that’s no fun.

At the very least, forbidden love should feel tingly and dangerous, not creepy and squirmy. So, I ended the book on my own terms. And I feel confident in saying Cassie wouldn’t have chosen this book to tote around in her apocalypse backpack either.

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Filed under Book Review, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fiction

Four Reasons I Changed From a Paper Pusher to an E-Book Evangelist

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As I sit here surrounded by mounds of hardcover books from the library, I’m profoundly grateful that I’m legally required to drop them into a slot in three weeks when I’m (hopefully) finished with them. (Or in three weeks and four days when I drive them there in a panic, realizing I’ve once again wracked up fines).

I realize this sounds strange, considering I drove to the library, wrote down the Dewey decimal numbers with a cute little pencil, perused the stacks, and lugged my finds home in a barely-making-it Target bag. But, these days I do everything I can to avoid paper books unless they’re returnable. Here’s why.

1. Books are heavy. My epiphany moment came during the middle of a very warm summer day, when I packed up the fifth cardboard box of books in preparation for a move. Books are sweet, innocuous things when they’re decorating a shelf, but they quickly become the enemy when you have to hoist them down three flights of stairs. I stared at my many boxes of books, most that I’d read only once, and vowed that this would be the last time I lugged around decorative objects that had served their purpose.

2. The Kindle is magically light. This reason is similar to #1, except my realization came as I tramped through an airport, hooking my thumbs under my straining backpack straps. I simply can’t choose one book to take on a trip. I must take at least five, and five in a Kindle weighs the same as one.

3. I am no longer tempted to read the ending of the book before the beginning. Okay, well, I’m still tempted, but the Kindle format discourages that type of peeking. I like having that extra prod to my self-discipline.

4. Instant gratification. Out of books and found a great one online? No problem. One click and the book is in my hot little hands. No long drive to the bookstore, hoping it’s in stock. No week-long vigil at the mailbox for the telltale cardboard box.

5. Jealousy. I watched friends and family receive e-readers one Christmas, and I wanted them for me.

So there you have it. I’m no longer a reluctant convert to the digital age of books, and my back thanks me for it. It only took me three years — how long did it take you?

 

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