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Book Review – The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (@RickYancey)

January 2, 2015 Leave a comment

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Book Description:

An Amazon Best Teen Book of the Month, May 2013 Spotlight Pick
The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

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.

*

Rick Yancey is the author of the excellent Monstrumologist series which I love, but I staved off reading this new series, mostly due to my ‘post-apocalyptic / dystopian books’ fatigue. But the sequel has been released (The Infinite Sea: The Second Book of the 5th Wave), so it was time for me to dive in!

The 5th Wave is about a hostile alien invasion of earth, and it starts out really creepy, with a ‘being’ visiting a sleeping pregnant woman and ‘inserting’ an alien consciousness within the fetus. Then, the countdown begins. (cue the music).

The book starts up again after the so-called ‘4th wave’ of the invasion, and is told mostly from the point of view of shell-shocked teenager Cassie (who fears she is the last person on earth). To my surprise, I found that I liked Cassie (I usually don’t like the YA heroines I’ve read so far). She had all the irritating teenage girl qualities (especially her tendency to moon over good-looking boys), but I don’t know – Rick Yancey managed to wrap her up in teflon or something – I was really rooting for her. I liked her sarcasm, guts and never-say-die attitude. I suspect though that part of why she didn’t wear out her welcome was that Rick Yancey, (wisely) chose not to tell the entire story from her POV.

The 5th Wave is also told from the POV of a teenage boy nicknamed Zombie, who has been conscripted into a ‘child army’ – whipped into fighting shape ostensibly to defeat the elements of the ‘4th wave’ – the ‘alien-infested’ humans who are busily wiping out what’s left of humanity after the previous ‘waves’.  Zombie is the leader of a rag-tag squadron, whose littlest member is (coincidentally) Sammy – Cassie’s little brother.

And more coincidence (!), Zombie happens to be Ben Parish – Cassie’s unrequited crush back in her previous life. But the requisite teen romance (because there has to be one – it’s like written in law or something) in The 5th Wave isn’t between Cassie and Zombie. Mysterious good (or bad?) guy Evan rescues a wounded Cassie, and they quickly fall in love while Cassie is recuperating under Evan’s care. Personally, I found Evan to be stalker-ish (even Cassie commented on this), but apparently, all that laser-beam intensity is an irresistible quality in a man. (Example – My girl friends who have read the book are in love with Evan – insert eye-roll here).

The 5th Wave ends strong with good action sequences AND on emotional cliff-hangers (the fate of one main character up in the air, other characters may be mortally wounded), so I’m darn glad that I already own book two!

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Putnam Juvenile/Penguin Group) is available on Amazon and other bookstores.

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Book Review – The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist #2) by Rick Yancey

September 20, 2013 Leave a comment

The Curse of the Wendigo (Monstrumologist #2) by Rick Yancey

Book Description:

Rick Yancey’s first gothic suspense tale, The Monstrumologist, earned him a prestigious Michael L. Printz Award. The second installment of this acclaimed series, Curse of the Wendigo, finds young Will Henry on the hunt for a supernatural beast plaguing New England in the late 1800s.

Will and his mentor, the domineering Dr. Warthrop, are enlisted to help the doctor’s former fiancée. It seems her husband has been lost in the Canadian wilderness. And to make matters worse, there are reports that a Wendigo – a creature who gorges on human flesh – is on the loose.

*

I found Rick Yancey’s gothic horror story The Monstrumologist to be pretty bloody brilliant, so the second book in the series certainly had a lot to live up to.  And live up it did (although my favorite is still the first book). Do you want something scary to read tonight that will keep you up, keep you turning the pages in suspense, fire up your adrenaline? Add this to your TBR list (but if you haven’t yet, read book #1 first!)

Just a note though – while I think Curse of the Wendigo is an EXCELLENT sequel (serving up new monsters with a great heaping side of blood and gore, plus trips to the Canadian wilderness and 1800 Victorian New York) and I’d highly recommend it to any “mature” literary horror fan,  I really don’t think it should be marketed to young readers. Yes, the hero in the book is a 12-year-old orphan, but the situations he and his guardian Dr. Warthrop find themselves in are truly horrifying.  Stomach churning-, nightmare inducing- horrifying.

Maybe the problem is that Rick Yancey is such an amazing writer – the setting, the rich (aka gruesome) imagery, the atmosphere, the dialogue, the characters all felt very intense and real. If this book were a movie, I’d be watching it through my fingers – wincing at certain scenes (i.e. the autopsy scene!) while scared out of my mind (but loving every minute, mind you.) It’s very graphic & violent (in a literary Dickensian way), and terrible things happen to a lot of innocent people, and no wonder young Will was a traumatized mess in the end!

Once I’ve recovered, Book #3 The Isle of Blood next!

Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) is available on Amazon, B&N Nook, Kobo books and iTunes iBooks.

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Book Review – The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

January 18, 2011 2 comments

Book Description:

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will’s world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi–a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest–and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatenning to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.

The Monstrumologist is the first stunning gothic adventure in a series that combines the spirit of HP Lovecraft with the storytelling ability of Rick Riorden.

*

Wow, The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is totally bloody brilliant – an amazingly well-written (if gory) romp through a Dickensian horror universe, peopled with memorable characters and monsters (both the fantasy creatures Anthropophagi & ‘civilized’ men hiding the monsters within), that totally captured my attention and imagination from the first page onward. For the lucky people who managed to download this for free (when Amazon gave it away for free once upon a time), don’t let this languish in your Archive pile like I did. Start reading it now! 🙂

Just a short word of warning though – I’m not exactly sure why this is a children’s book (from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) since I’d like to stress that yes, the writing style is very literary, but make no mistake about it, this is a horror book in the best traditions of a horror story set in 1888 New England. The author Rick Yancey does NOT shrink away from depicting death, blood and gore – and given that this is a book about the adventures of the 12-year-old assistant-apprentice Will Henry and his mentor/guardian ‘monstrumologist’ Dr. Pellinore Warthrop investigating the case of an infestation of marauding man-eating anthropophagi – there is more than enough bloody mayhem in the story that may be upsetting for sensitive kids. Rick Yancey is a bit wordy, but in his hands, I could see and smell and feel the death and destruction at the hands of these mythical creatures, and in particular, there is a scene in the book that I really found hard to go through (I was totally heartsick while Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop slowly went through a house after an anthropophagi attack).

The best thing about the story though are the characters, from the young hero of the book (the lonely orphan Will Henry who seems so subservient, but who has more heart, courage and backbone than everyone else combined), the scientist ‘monstrumologist’ Dr. Pellinore Warthrop (pompous, cold and overbearing, sure, but still with that streak of inherent decency & real affection for his young charge), the chilling monster-hunter Dr. John Kearns (a dashing, charismatic but psychopathic antihero who gets his results without a care for human cost) and even Malachi Stinnet (the shell-shocked but determined sole survivor of an anthropophagi slaugher) … I could go on and on about all the unique characters we meet – from the village constable, to the loathesome director of an asylum, even the ghostly reach of Dr. Warthrop’s dead father … really brilliant complex characterizations.

As I’ve said earlier, once I stared reading The Monstrumologist, I literally couldn’t put it down, and I was always at the edge of my seat worrying about the characters’ safety (and sanity) and yet having loads of fun at the suspense … I am highly recommending this book, and I can’t wait to start reading the second book from the series The Curse of the Wendigo!

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition ($8.99), Hardcover ($12.95), Paperback ($9.99) or Audible edition ($20.99).

The eBook is also available for $8.99 on B&N Nook, Kobo books and Borders.

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