Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction (Apocalyptic/Dystopian)
Very seldom do I give a score of 5/5, but this book was the first one in a long time that I slammed through due to the contagion of being unable to remove it from my fingertips. I actually watched the movie first. It was one of those things where I saw the trailer, thought it looked awful, looked at the trailer again, read the back of the book, and finally decided to watch the movie. The book is a hundred times better than the movie. Books are always better, as we know, but this was better by a huge fraction for a great number of reasons.
The book is well crafted and Yancey does a pretty good job keeping the characters relatively unique and interesting. The entire concept is very interesting and it has the reader questioning the science behind the ideas. While the idea of the Others is very abstract, Yancey does a pretty decent job, for the most part, giving some kind of scientific explanation first, and then putting the abstract in our heads a bit later.
There are four key characters that have their own perspective chapters. Cassie and Ben have multiple first person chapters, while Evan and Sam have third person focused around them, and they have only one chapter each (maybe two). This is an interesting differentiation because it tells us a lot about possible outcomes for characters with first person importance compared to third.
So what is this crazy, well-crafted, impossible-to-put-down book even about? An alien mother-ship has traveled to Earth and intends on ridding the Earth of humans through various waves of destruction. Given the title of “Others” by the humans, the word is coming to a collapse. In the first wave, a planet-wide electromagnetic pulse makes electronics cease functioning, bringing humanity back to the dark ages. The second wave is generated by the Others displacing a huge amount of water by dropping an immense object from the sky; this causes tsunamis and earthquakes that destroy the greater majority of coastal and island nations. The third wave is a plague generated by the Others to kill off the majority of the remaining humans, leaving only the 3% that would possibly be immune, the strong ones. The fourth wave is an an awakening of Others who were already in humans prior to the arrival. The fifth wave is a MAJOR SPOILER and is the height of the novel. The fifth wave shows how sadistic the Other can be by tricking children into killing human survivors by making them believe they are killing aliens through a special military technology.
The premise of the novel, underneath the alien invasion. features Cassie searching for her little brother, who was presumably taken by the military to a safe place. When all of the adults in Cassie’s camp of survivors are eliminated by the Others (this being her realization of the fourth wave), she knows she must save her little brother Sammy from the military-disguised alien beings.
Along the way, Cassie is shot by a Silencer, an Other that is meant to take out the remaining human survivors. But Evan can’t do it. There’s just something about Cassie that makes him feel human too. Here’s the kicker: Evan is an Other who was “downloaded” into the boy who was once Evan and awakened as the Arrival approached, getting ready for the eradication of the human race. But Evan falls in love with Cassie. She can’t stand this at first, but she eventually lets Evan show her what being and Other really is. His (abstract) explanation of Others is that they are beings made of pure consciousness. They gan live in other beings and take the form of other beings, and yet live for thousands of years because of their mainframe mother-ship. This is the part of the novel that is hard to grasp, but hopefully the second and third book will hopefully give a bit more scientific explanation…or maybe just keep feeding us abstract ideas! Evan shares his “consciousness” with Cassie, and she can feel who he is.
Evan wants to go against his own kind, all for the sake of love.
Being one of the few 5/5’s I have given in quite some time, I would HIGHLY recommend that YES, you should read this book. There is so much more to the characters and the environment than the movie can uphold, and it is the hardship, gore, love, and raw humanity that makes this book worth reading.