Book Title: The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) Author: Rick Yancey Number of pages: 338
The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.
They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– Underwhelming conclusion that felt rushed and gave limited fulfillment to questions that stemming from the first book
– World building lacks support to sell the alien storyline
– Though Cassie is present, Ringer reads like the protagonist
– Solid action sequences and vivid landscapes in support of it
– The ending is either going to be a hit or miss with readers
Good start (The 5th Wave).
Derpy middle (The Infinite Sea).
A terrible, terrible end (The Last Star).
^ my summary of The 5th Wave in a nutshell.
Let me preface this review by saying the ending is fine. It’s everything from The Infinite Sea to the last chapter that did not work for me.
It might not be fair that I went into The Last Star with high expectations but nothing gave me a sense that this book is the finale this series deserves. The tone just feels rushed; especially now that the doomsday trope is given a value of <5 days. The problem with this sudden timeline is that it’s an attempt at conveniently move the plot along while dismissing the fundamental questions that outline the actions of The Others. And there’s no real answer to that either.
Just a lot of talking in circles.
If the plot stretched for two “books” to understand the dysfunctional Evan Walker (re: his alter ego as a Shark/non-Shark) and the failures of their psuedo at-birth-mind-control, then having an expedited doomday is kind of a Hail Mary for Team Alien. There’s a lack of explanation that reinforces the necessity of the antagonist to suddenly do what they’re planning to do — and if there is, then it wasn’t made apparent enough.
Three years — I waited three years for an unsubstantiated ending because either these “aliens” are a bunch of idiots or the storytelling didn’t feel like it knew where to go after The 5th Wave and it just wanted the heroes to win without a real fight.
The world building in this trilogy–I can confirm–is a roller coaster of nonsense. The natural progression beginning in The 5th Wave (aliens: they are coming!) to The Infinite Sea (aliens: we’ve always been here!) to The Last Star (aliens: you can’t sit at our table cause you aren’t alien enough!) is among the biggest kerfuffle of writing I have been graced to read. To be fair: the flow through from book 1 to 2 is fine and is upheld by symbolism assigning tangibility to humanity.
But what the fuck happened to the rest of this high concept setting?
There can be aliens and a mothership but there has to be a why.
There can be neurologically altering implants and aliens-within-aliens logic but there has to be a why.
There can be nuanced planning and guns-blazing antics but there has to be a why.
There can be kids and martyrs and eradication of humanity but there has to be a why.
…and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to support why things are really happening and it does no service to the high octane (and vividly accessible) action scenes. There is no glue holding these elements together in a meaningful way. And you know what I blame? This idea of displacing a villain with just a central “theme” as its source of conflict and tension. Can it be done? Absolutely. Was it done with a commanding pen stroke? Not for my tastes.
This is where I have the biggest damn question mark.
I adore multi-POV narrations. When they’re done right, each voice stands on its own and is integral to every other perspective (for example: Six of Crows does this masterfully). But as much as I appreciated the multifaceted storytelling, there’s always one key player who’s naturally more important than the rest. In this case, it’s supposed to be Cassie. Yet everything that made Cassie great seemed missing, replaced by an overpowered Ringer paving the way — a Ringer who suddenly feels like the actual protagonist.
Part of me understands why Ringer was the one who got the boost of info-dumping enhancements. It keeps Cassie’s humanity and heroism grounded. She’s your All American Average Jill after all. However, this whole story should have included a Ringer POV from the get-go then instead of shifting gears midway through the series. Maybe the idea didn’t come into midway through — I’d never know — but I feel like it was a strike against the book when Ringer (whom I did enjoy) is suddenly being shoved down the reader’s throats.
And can I also just say that there’s so much repetitive narration in this book? I’m not sure if this was what it was like in T5W and TIS (it’s been a while) but it’s as if the characters enjoy listening to themselves speak and validating their thoughts.
But if I must be positive, the pacing was acceptable (re timeline) and the descriptiveness in prose is an aspect I actually enjoy from Yancey. So there’s that. All else though…
The complaints just keep coming.
Sam: How much time ACTUALLY passed in 5th Wave world? Not that much, yeah? And though war and terrorism can change someone; especially a child as impressionable as Sam, it’s difficult to really believe the mentality of his character to narrate the story in the way he did. Actions are one thing but thoughts are another thing entirely. A big nope here.
Vosch: He was such a good villain in the The 5th Wave: nuanced, bad without the frivolous in-your-face monologues of why he’s bad, goal-oriented, and blazed a trail of conviction. But then he just ceased to be a presence unless it was for the purposes of info dumping a bunch of shit about how awesome he is.
A great framework for a character who, unfortunately turned into a complete douche.
I’m not saying he had to blow up a bunch of kids and be evil for the sake of itself but I cannot accept him walking around as an info-dumping metaphorical proxy of the core conflict. There is no justified reason for him to even exist — which makes what happened to him easy to gloss over because at that point.
Because really, what is the point of Vosch?
I entertain the idea that the true villain is the atmosphere; the veil of uncertainty and Other-ism. The problem here is that the omnipresence lacks fulfillment when answered with purple prose of speaking in circles. Ugh.
Evan Walker: He is such a tool. I’m sorry but though his shark game was cute in The 5th Wave (sans creepy stalker antics plus all those off-the-page doing the nasty scenes), he has two emotional settings: Cassie and Nothing. There’s no dimension to this kid and his Cassie setting is equivalent to lost-puppy-face-mode all fucking day.
Random Character: If I’m being honest: Mr. Religious could have made a wonderful antagonist (kind of like Aaron in Knife of Never Letting Go). This dude was just written in to be a shitty obstacle to overcome. The stupid thing is that his one chapter held more gusto than Vosch in three books. Oh my lanta.
Ben: If there’s one silver lining in this story: it’s Ben. Notwithstanding his Terminator complex of resilience in staying alive, the integrity of his character remained intact throughout the series — and wavered when it had to. His end is a bit of a bust (see: Razor and instalust) but all I wanted was for Ben to be happy…and he sort of got that?
I’m not even going to speak about Cassie and Ringer.
Romance was pretty garbage too (particularly Ringer’s romp with Razor AND Ben).
As much as I actively torch this book, the ending brings this series back to its roots (kinda). Yes it was overly convenient. Yes it’s conclusive without being the be-all-end-all. But the ending (minus the epilogue) felt right and was type of closure [I think?] this story needed in the heroic strength that is Cassiopeia Sullivan.
I’ll stop chirping now because I am still livid over this three year journey for this shit.