Review of The Infinite Sea (Book 2 of the 5th Wave) by Rick Yancey
When the first book in a series is as good as The 5th Wave producing a sequel that is worthy and better than its predecessor is a tough task. The 5th Wave was an action packed, twisting invasion thriller that barely let up. The sequel The Infinite Sea, is around a hundred pages shorter than its predecessor, but it’s somehow slower and less action packed. That doesn’t mean this is a bad book, or that it isn’t worthy of The 5th Wave. Infinite Sea is still a fast-paced book with some awesome action sequences, but it’s also heavy on romance and a lot of talking about feelings—some may like that. I don’t. I like full on action, just like The 5th Wave provided. That book balanced excellent set pieces with great pace, a tight plot and left just enough questions to make me eager for the sequel. The Infinite Sea ended much the same way. But it also provided an awesome twist that I didn’t see coming and some burning questions for the third and final book in the trilogy.
What this book got right was the writing, the voices of the split narratives, and the action sequences. Rick Yancey can always be relied on to deliver tight, vivid writing and his characters always feel real. There isn’t always a lot of character development, but these books aren’t so much about the characters’ pasts, as about their present and their futures. Most of the characters from book 1 are back. Cassie, Evan, Zombie, Sam, Ringer, Vosch etc, and those who didn’t get much to do last time come into the fore this time around. For most of the novel, Ringer narrates, and her voice is real. There’s too much focus on emotion and feelings and other mushy stuff that will appeal to some and make others grind their teeth, but her voice sounds real and she’s a great, tough character. Like last time, Cassie is a pain in the ass, as is Evan. There’s an apocalypse-like event going on around them and they only seem to talk about each other, about getting back to each other. Come on, Rick, where’s the action and explosions and chase sequences—Yeah, there they are. In the last fifty or so pages. Those last fifty or so pages are packed with tension, action and the final, epic twist. The twist may divide readers, but I thought it was well-timed and original and can’t imagine the book going another way.
What the book got wrong was the pacing. I read the book very quickly, could have read it faster if I didn’t have university work and editing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s fast paced. For half of the book, very little happens and there is a lot of back and forth in time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. There isn’t a whole lot of movement in this book. The characters don’t seem to move anywhere, but stay in only a couple of places. The book is pretty isolated, too—not that it’s a bad thing, but I wanted to know what was happening everywhere else. Even a passing mention of what’s happening around the rest of the world, or even just in the rest of America would have made this novel feel more dramatic and the threat of the invasion bigger and more serious.
Overall, this is a worthy sequel to the 5th Wave, with a huge twist at the end that most people won’t see coming. The characters are believable, if some of them are annoying, the writing is tight and vivid; the action is gripping and there is plenty of tension. If Yancey had just got the pacing a little tighter and injected a little more plot and added maybe fifty more pages, this would have been as good as the 5th Wave.
Highly recommended. The third book, The Last Son, coming this year, is high on the top of my to-read list.