Book Review: ‘The Infinite Sea’ (The Fifth Wave #2) by Rick Yancey

infinite-seaThe 5th Wave, Rick Yancey’s post-apocalyptic thriller about an alien invasion of earth and the children trying to survive it, was one of my favorite reads of 2012. After what seemed like a very long wait (probably thanks, in large part, to The 5th Wave’s cliffhanger ending), fans of the first book can finally find out what happens next with the release of book two in the series, The Infinite Sea.

Following a similar format to the first book, Yancey split the story into the perspectives of multiple characters – some are characters who narrated the first book and some are new, and Yancey does a fantastic job of distinguishing their perspectives. And, much like the first book, The Infinite Sea also weaves together the stories of characters who are not necessarily together, but whose actions impact each other. Sometimes this setup functions to give readers “the big picture,” other times it provides unexpected twists. Either way, it is executed fantastically – it keeps the story moving at a zippy pace and is incredibly effective for building suspense.

There’s not a lot I can say about the plot of The Infinite Sea without spoiling it. I will say that the action picks up pretty much right where it left off, so you don’t have to wait long to find out the fate of the characters (including Evan). While the first book was dedicated to a great deal of exposition mixed in with the “action,” there isn’t a need for it here so most chapters involve clear forward movement in the plot. There are a few from a new narrator (but a character readers will be familiar with) that are flashbacks; initially they seem a bit out of place but of course ultimately they all make sense. See above paragraph on Yancey’s masterful planning abilities.

I’ll also spill that Cassie is again one of the “main” characters in The Infinite Sea, which was a relief for me because she was my favorite point of view in the first book and her familiar voice is a welcome anchor in a story where you’re never really sure what to believe. Which brings me to another point – The Infinite Sea has plenty of action and a few interesting twists, but it doesn’t bring the major revelations quite as quickly as the first book. It does, however, smack you with a pretty massive one toward the end that was enough to satiate my need for answers.

It did take me a little longer to fully invest in this story compared with the first book; it takes time to establish direction. On top of that, the first section of the book comes from a new perspective (Ringer’s), and I just didn’t find her point of view quite as engaging as some of the others. There are also a few small “middle book problems” here – some of the action isn’t totally necessary and feels a bit like filler. Really entertaining filler, but filler nonetheless. These were minor issues, but admittedly they did take my level of enjoyment down a notch from “love” to “really like.”

Still, though, The Infinite Sea does an amazing job of setting up for a thrilling final book. The premise of the story enables Yancey to put a unique spin on a lot of timeless themes. This series really stands out amongst many of its YA peers simply because of its creative spin on the arguably overused dystopian genre combined with its clear endgame – I’m confident Yancey knows where his story is ending and has carefully engineered his plot and characters to fit that, and I can’t wait to see what he has planned for the final book.

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