In which I rant about the final book of Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy: The Last Star. (There is not a corresponding review this time around.)
I’m actually not even going to review this one. As I said in my review of The Infinite Sea, I have a very difficult time reviewing books in a series other than the first book. If you’ve read the first book, you’ll make your decision on whether or not to read subsequent books based on your opinion of it, not on someone’s review. So, if you’ve read The Last Star, please proceed and discuss it with me. If you’ve not read it but don’t care about spoilers, you may also feel free to proceed. If you’ve not read the trilogy and think you might want to, here is my review of the first book, The 5th Wave.
Okay, now that we’ve only got people who’ve already read it/don’t care about spoilers, I can officially freak out.
Where do I begin with this?!!?!?!
I liked this book better than The Infinite Sea. As you may remember from my rant, I thoroughly enjoyed that book. Therefore, I really, really loved this one.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but when I get ready to review a book or to analyse it or rant about it, I go through and put flags on all the pages I want to talk about.
Here’s what this one looks like:
Obviously, I’m not going to be able to talk about everything in this post! But I’ll do my best. Because I really could talk about this book for a year.
Can I just say that I loved this so much?! I loved it when I read it, even though it seemed almost irrelevant. But by the end of the book, its presence made so much sense, and it definitely had a place in the book.
I also loved it because near the beginning of The 5th Wave, Cassie said that her parents just named her Cassiopeia because they thought it sounded pretty. So it’s really cool to find out, in the third book, that there was an actual reason, one she doesn’t know about.
Agh just the whole thing. It added a new layer of depth to an already deep book.
The Evan and Cassie Relationship
Let me be frank: I hate the relationship between Evan and Cassie.
I hate that Cassie spends most of her time (and to be honest, all of her brain power) waffling between hating/wanting to kill Evan Walker and being madly in love with him. I sincerely doubt this happens very often in real life. It’s just really ridiculous.
And to be honest, I don’t see why she’s attracted to Evan at all. It must be purely physical, because that guy has no personality besides his random, undying affection for Cassie.
Which, by the way, makes no sense at all. And also, being willing to sacrifice a whole civilisation for one person? That’s supposed to be cute?
It’s not. It’s not even touching or noble or selfless.
And yes, it’s a civilisation that is trying to wipe out another civilisation, but even if what he’s doing is justifiable, his motives aren’t right. I really don’t like that. Even if I did, the relationship between him and Cassie wasn’t real enough to support it. We’re told that they love each other, but it’s obsessiveness on Evan’s side and extreme indecisiveness on Cassie’s. Not my idea of love, but what do I know?
(Spoiler alert: I actually know a lot of things. And I know that ain’t love.)
And then Cassie. Abandoning her brother for a guy she barely knows—a guy who has done nothing but lie to her again and again and occasionally spew out some claptrap about how much he loves her. And yeah I guess he saved her or whatever, but if it wasn’t for him she wouldn’t have needed to be saved!
Maybe the thing that bugs me about them is they’re missing that fundamental foundation of trust. Whatever the problem is, it’s a big one, and I never bought their love story.
The Ship That I Ship SO MUCH
I think you guys realise by now how much I ship Ringer and Zombie. As a matter of fact, they’re the best fictional couple I’ve come across this year.
But it was a difficult road. I’m going to refrain from ranting about it too much, so instead, here is a sampling of the ups and downs.
I’m just so astonished that they ended up together. That never happens to the ships I ship. Like, ever.
One of the themes I love in this series is children. How they can be moulded, what they are capable of, how they instinctively trust us and we instinctively trust them…
There are interesting things to compare and contrast with such classics as Lord of the Flies and, yes, Les Miserables.
I can hear some of you rolling your eyes about the Les Mis tie-in, so I’ll prove it to you:
[Long list of all the bad things the street urchin does] and hasn’t got a nasty bone in his body. This is because he has a pearl in his soul, innocence, and pearls do not dissolve in mud. As long as man is a child, God would like him to be innocent.
In contrast, this series (and Lord of the Flies) would disagree with this idea. And Hugo, I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one, too. Children, like all humans, are capable of great evil. There is nothing inherently innocent about a child. But we would like to believe that there is, wouldn’t we? It’s not just romantic authors like Hugo who want to believe this. We all want to think that surely, if you can’t trust anyone else, you can still trust a child.
So the Others use that against the humans. And that is so chillingly, diabolically effective. Because if you can’t trust a child, you truly cannot trust anyone.
And it goes even further: it works both ways. As we see in Nugget’s POV, children—who, if not inherently innocent, are inherently trusting—have also been robbed of the ability to trust.
There’s no way you can tell who’s human anymore. Evan Walker looked human but wasn’t, not inside, not where it matters. Even people like Megan, who are human—maybe—couldn’t be trusted, because you can’t know what the enemy has done to them. Zombie, Cassie, Dumbo…you can’t really trust them, either. They could be just like Evan Walker.
Then it goes further still. It’s not just a strange child in a wheat field you can’t trust. Because the alien programming awakens when they’re teenagers, you can’t even trust the children you know, which is what Dumbo figures out.
“What if I got one inside me, Sarge? What if one of them is about to wake up in my brain and take over?”
The more you think about it, the more terrifying it becomes. The older ones—Zombie, Ringer, Cassie—can be trusted. But anyone who hasn’t hit puberty yet could be a Silencer just waiting to wake up.
I found myself wondering throughout the series: why are the aliens gathering up children? Not the ones they turn into soldiers (I understood that), but the ones under five years of age that they’re hoarding at Wright-Patterson.
Then, here in the final book, it all clicked into place. Children forget. Children won’t remember what things were like before the waves hit. With no one to teach them, they won’t know how to read the books that Cassie’s father thought would save civilisation. Nugget has already forgotten his alphabet and his mother’s face. Imagine how little a child even younger than him must remember at this stage in the game.
I couldn’t help thinking of a quote from a poem, which I ended up jotting in a margin somewhere in this book:
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
–E. E. Cummings
Anyway, all of the themes surrounding children were so well-executed. Really terrifying and thought-provoking.
“RIP, Squad 53”
First of all, let’s talk about Dumbo.
Zombie doesn’t ask why Dumbo would drag himself ten blocks in great pain with a bullet in his back. He doesn’t ask because he knows the answer. Dumbo wasn’t fleeing danger or looking for help: Dumbo was looking for his Sarge.
His loyalty is one of the most touching, intensely human things in this entire book. I really got choked up reading the scene where Zombie says goodbye to him. Just the idea that Dumbo held on so long for that…gah.
The weirdest thing happened in this book, though. I found myself getting nostalgic about Squad 53. It took me a while even to pinpoint what the feeling was, but then Zombie said:
Squad 53 is gone, broken apart, dead or missing or dying or running.
RIP, Squad 53.
That’s when I identified it as nostalgia. What I couldn’t figure out was why. After all, it’s not as though there were any “good old days” for them—certainly not back in boot camp with Reznik screaming at them constantly, and certainly not on their first mission, when Oompa died almost immediately, and Flint died not long after. But I couldn’t shake that feeling.
Then I realised that I wasn’t longing for something that had ever happened for them, but for what didn’t happen. What could have happened, had things been different. Eventually, it was put into words:
There’s a light that glimmers along the darkening edge of an infinite horizon. In that light the heart finds what the heart seeks. In that light, Dumbo goes where his beloved Zombie goes. In that light, a boy named Ben Parish finds his baby sister. In that light, Marika saves a little girl called Teacup. In that light are promises kept, dreams realized, time redeemed.
And Zombie’s voice, speeding Dumbo toward the light: “You made it, Private. You found me.”
No darkness slamming down. No endless fall into lightlessness. All was light when I felt Dumbo’s soul break the horizon.
Lost, found, and all was light.
That quote never ceases to turn my legs weak. And in case you’re wondering, yes. I did cry.
But the worst thing is that these kids would never even have known each other pre-invasion. There couldn’t be a Squad 53 unless there was a Squad 53. And once there was a Squad 53, it was inevitable that they would be picked off one by one.
I wish things could turn out good for these kids. But the inevitable is going to happen, and in fiction, it should happen.
I love that they went by their real names in the end, because it symbolises a return to some semblance of normalcy, but even so, they’ll always be Zombie, Ringer, and Nugget to me.
And it seems Nugget is with me on this one, because at the end, it mentions that he still called Ben “Zombie” in his head.
I still have a lot to talk about, and this is a VERY lengthy post. So, looks like this is going to be a two-parter. See you tomorrow for part 2!
Have a lovely day, and please do come rant with me in the comments.