Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave, #2) - Book Review

3.5/5 Stars

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans?

Rid the humans of their humanity...

Edition: Paperback
Pages: 300
Chapters: 84
Publisher: Penguin Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


I adore The 5th Wave, the first book in this alien-invasion trilogy. It's damn near young adult perfection. The Infinite Sea is no slouch as a sequel, but it's a mixed bag. Certain parts are phenomenal with their content and execution, while others severely impact the story's flow and cohesion. 

The post-apocalyptic landscape and atmosphere are both still there. The ongoing battle is still a smorgasbord of action, misdirection, and intimate insanity. New developments shift the overall understanding of the world, and the characters leading the way are fantastic fellows.

All in all, a solid, surreal sequel.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Cassie, Sam, Ben and the squad are hunkered down, licking their wounds after their explosive assault of an alien compound.
But the war is far from over.
They haven't even made a dent.
Awaiting the return of an ally, the group tries to plan their next move, namely a way to survive the impending winter.
But distrust has been sown deeply into their hearts, and when the unthinkably heartbreaking happens, it sets off a series of events that'll rock the survivors to their core.
Everything they thought they knew is about to be destroyed and rebuilt.
Everything they've survived is about to look like child's play...

Plot - 3.5/5 Stars

The Infinite Sea gives us a mysterious start that transitions into a mind-blowing twist. It's rapid and unforgiving, setting the story up with aplomb. It easily sets the tone, driving home to the reader that themes of survival and morality are going to be massive parts of the journey ahead. And much like the previous entry, they are. Yancey nails the post-apocalyptic feel, surprising the reader with thoughtful questions that force us to face the reality of what we'd do in such a drastic landscape.

From there, though, things dramatically drop off. Whereas The 5th Wave has a slow, steady structure that is emotive and focused, The Infinite Sea tries too hard to replicate it while speeding things up a little. There are bouts of chaotic action that send your heart racing, only for long periods of contemplation and repetition to overshadow it.

It's also very stationary, spending large parts in static places. There are a few fantastic developments and twists, but not all of them build well.

We are treated to a nice, climactic, action-packed end that will no doubt have you running for the final entry, so the slow-burning elements aren't entirely useless.

Pace - 3/5 Stars

The Infinite Sea blasts off, then slows down, then, with intermittent scenes of chaos, blasts off. 3/4 of the way through left me infuriated, though. The pace ratchets down to a near stop, and while it does build an impressive climax, certain chapters can be a slog. It's this inconsistency that sometimes fractures the plot, helped along by things I'll elaborate on when it comes to the writing.

Characters - 4/5 Stars

I love this series' cast of characters. They're dark, haunting, and complex. Each is distinctive and engaging, whether you hate or love them. Cassie is my favourite. She's a wonderful protagonist that I feel is underutilised in this entry. She's funny, tough, intelligent, resilient and, despite her best efforts, vulnerable. The rest are integral too, offering the novel unique elements that are never wasted.

Development is a little murky across the board, and relationships, both romantic and platonic, don't really face anything they haven't already faced. But it's a strong collection of characters, so I'm hoping the final book does them better justice.

Writing - 3/5 Stars

Yancey's writing is lyrical. It's smooth and often beautiful, conveying scenes and emotions with vivid detail that rivets the reader. The philosophical aspects of the story provide some intense thought and comedy is portrayed with great timing and wit. 

But, The Infinite Sea is a novel that sometimes loses itself in its own eagerness. It prefers to show rather than tell. A good technique, usually. With its lyrical prose and philosophical awareness, the reader is often left confused by what the author's intentions are. Answers don't always come easily and the nuance can be a bit extreme. The disjoint is further aided by the whiplash-inducing switches in character viewpoints. We also haphazardly switch from first-person to third, present tense to past, and while, overall, I'd say things aren't too badly affected, it can be frustrating.

Overall - 3.5/5 Stars

You can't argue with how exciting an alien invasion with a post-apocalyptic backdrop is, and The Infinite Sea proves that. Despite its flaws it's thoughtful, engaging, and emotive. There are worse middle novels to trilogies, and I cannot wait to pick up the final entry for this series.

I apologise if this review is all over the place, it's been a long day and I'm absolutely knackered. I was hoping I'd be more cohesive, but hopefully I've managed to express how I feel.

Until next time, folks!

Previous Instalment: The 5th Wave
Next Instalment: The Last Star

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