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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey

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.

Released: September 16th 2014    Pages: 320
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile   Source: Library

The 5th Wave set the bar high for its sequel, The Infinite Sea.  The first book is gritty yet eloquent in the way Rick Yancey does best, with plenty of shock value, deep questions, and emotional impact.  I expected nothing less from The Infinite Sea, especially since I've read examples of Yancey's ability to write sequels that rise above the expectations set by the first book.

Even for all its merits, The Infinite Sea falls a bit short of its predecessor.  I could attribute this to mid-series sagging, or my own changing reading habits (since I've started college, my reading has been more spread out, which makes it harder for me to really invest in a book).  Or maybe this book simply isn't as good.

"Isn't as good" is a relative term, though.  The first book is phenomenal.  Even if this one isn't quite there, it's still fantastic.  It's exactly the type of dystopia I like--gritty, believable, and raw.  It doesn't shy away from difficult topics like war, death, or child soldiers.  There is a large amount of violence, but it's never gratuitous.  The line, “How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.” is prevalent throughout the series, and it's a main theme.  How do you destroy humankind?  By bringing out that which would cause humankind to destroy itself.  It's what gives this series its haunting edge.  It's dark--characters are driven to extreme, morally ambiguous actions and decisions.  But it's believable, and it feels real.

The characters, especially, have this element of realness.  It's an odd group of ordinary-kids-turned-soldiers.  They're likable, despite how hardened they have become.  Cassie, one of the main characters, has never been my favorite, but my respect for her keeps growing. She's a bit blinded by her love for Evan, but I respect her incredible devotion to protecting her younger brother.  Evan himself is a bit of an enigma, especially with...certain plot twists.  That's all I'm saying.  Then there's Ben/Zombie, who was my favorite from The 5th Wave.  He's a leader of sorts, but has just as many issues as the rest of them, psychological or otherwise.  The real star of this book, though, is Ringer.  She developed so much during the course of the story.  Rick Yancey uses her time with Razor, a new addition to this series, to really flesh out her character, and I'm eager to see where he takes her in the next book.  Razor himself deserves a mention, mostly for being incredibly awesome.  

Despite all these positives, though, the plot of this book isn't as compelling as the last.  It's still good, but it fell short of my expectations.  It's action-packed, but less so.  There is more time spent arguing within the group than actually doing anything.  It's slower than the first book, and the plot has less focus.  It doesn't always seem like there is a clear goal, which gives it a directionless feeling.  

In the grand scheme of things, though, these problems don't detract much from the book as a whole.  It's still fantastic.  It's still full of Rick Yancey's amazing writing and insight into human nature.  It's still an intense, thought-provoking read.  I'm excited for the finale, but also a bit nervous.  I know what Rick Yancey can do to my feelings.  Then again, if he can create this kind of emotional intensity, that's a wonderful accomplishment.

Similar Books: It deals with kids-turned-soldiers in a dystopian environment, like The Drowned Cities.  Its near-future setting reminds me of Ashes, or Life As We Knew It and its companion The Dead and the Gone.  

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