Book Review: ‘The Last Star’ by Rick Yancey

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You know that feeling of anticipation you get when the final book in a beloved series finally comes out? It’s that feeling where you’re partially super excited because you really want to know how it ends, but you’re also kind of anxious that it’s not going to meet your high expectations? So yeah, that’s where I was at when I picked up the final book in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series, The Last Star.

I loved The 5th Wave. It had a lot going for it – a unique spin on the oft-rehashed post-apocalyptic scenario, a strong female lead, a survival story, and aliens. The story felt immediate and engaging, making it one of my favorite reads of the year. When the sequel, The Infinite Sea, came out, I wasn’t disappointed, exactly…just cautious. I liked the book fine, but something about it just felt different. That x factor I loved about the first book was missing, replaced with a bit too much philosophy and metaphor for the likes of me. But perhaps it was a bridge book issue. Maybe I’d find that thing I was looking for in the final book, The Last Star.

Did I? Yes and no. A large portion of the book did feel a bit truer to the original vibe of the series than The Infinite Sea – a fast-paced survival story that just happens to include aliens. I was really interested to see how Yancey could possibly tie up this epic story. To his credit, he manages to both provide a satisfying conclusion without wrapping things up too neatly for a story of this magnitude.

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I appreciated that Yancey had a clear plan for his story progression; there are some confusing bits here and there but for the most part The Last Star helped me make more sense of what was happening in The Infinite Sea, and everything seemed to tie together fairly well. I tend to prefer sci-fi stories that are at least somewhat reality-based, in that I can imagine them being within the realm of possibility and not complete fantasy. This series stays in that realm quite well for the first couple of books, but some of the events at the end, in particular, strayed a bit too far into the unbelievable for my taste. And on that note…

I kind of hated the ending. I understand why it ended the way it did, and I would even go so far as to say it makes more sense than any other ending. I think the problem I had was that I was expecting some sort of major revelation or twist. Throughout the series, there’s this sense of secrecy and conspiracy and I just kept waiting for something new to come to light that really changed my understanding of this story. It just didn’t happen, and that left me disappointed.

And, without getting too spoilery, there’s a super cliche and unnecessary story thread in The Last Star that feels like an afterthought throughout the entire book, until it gets forced down your throat at the end. It’s a common storytelling device; it’s symbolic, whatever…I was just hoping for something a little more original when the series had so much promise of being unique from the get go.

What’s really disappointing is that overall, The Last Star is a fantastic book. Aside from playing a little fast and loose with its core group of characters, the story is cohesive, suspenseful, and exciting. Leading up to the final section of the book, I was feeling pretty darn optimistic. Unfortunately there’s no way for me to talk about this book as a series ender without dwelling heavily on the actual ending, and sadly that piece was a major letdown for me. Still, I’m glad I read The Last Star and, had I not had several years’ worth of series ending expectations built up, it’s very likely my overall impression, ending included, would have been better.

I’d also like to mention how grateful I am for the existence of this series, because I do think it has opened the door for more YA sci-fi books to see the light of day, and encouraged interested authors to pursue the genre more. Oh, and I’m just one person – there are plenty of readers out there who absolutely loved The Last Star and thought the ending was perfect. So I say – take your chances. Regardless of your thoughts on the ending, it’s an exciting ride.

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Let ‘The Last Star’ Speculation Begin!

Do you know what you’ll be doing May 24th? Because I know I, for one, will be wishing that I could spend the entire day reading the final book in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series, The Last Star. Probably sitting at my desk at work, trying not to scroll through Goodreads reviews for fear of potential spoilers, waiting impatiently for my chance to pick up The Last Star and dive right in.

If you’ve read The 5th Wave and its follow-up, The Infinite Sea, you understand why I’m antsy. This is a high stakes series. Aliens are taking over the earth, but a small group of survivors remains, and no one knows why the aliens haven’t just wiped out the whole planet. The stakes are high, and there are still so many questions about these aliens’ intentions and the fate of our lovely band of main characters, Cassie, Zombie, Ringer and Evan.

I’m honestly at a bit of a loss in terms of guessing how this series will play out. I have all the faith in the world in Yancey’s planning abilities and have no doubt that he will wrap up the series wonderfully, but man…how does a band of teenagers (albeit super tough ones) save the earth from aliens? I don’t expect a convenient happy ending where these kids convince the aliens to leave them alone by proving how wonderful humanity truly can be.

But I also don’t see this series ending on a tragedy either. The message throughout the first two books was hope, so I do think one way or another there will be a resolution that doesn’t end in the decimation of the human race. So far there have been a considerable amount of plot twists in the series, so I expect there to be a major one in The Last Star, but what will it be? My running theory is that maybe these aliens who we thought were responsible for all the terrible things in the first couple of books either aren’t truly the ringmaster of the destruction. But then who is?

Let us know your theories in the comments, and be sure to check out The Last Star when it hits stores (and e-readers) on May 24th!

Re-read Rick Yancey’s ‘The Infinite Sea’ for a Chance to Win ‘5th Wave’ Swag!

Re-read Rick Yancey’s ‘The Infinite Sea’ for a Chance to Win ‘5th Wave’ Swag!It is now officially less than three months until the final book in Rick Yancey’s 5th Wave trilogy, The Last Star, hits shelves! What if I told you that you could refresh your memory on the story and pick up some amazing prizes by participating in the March read-along of book two, The Infinite Sea? I mean, if you’re like me you were going to re-read The Infinite Sea anyway, so why not enter to win some cool stuff in the process?

Click here to enter The Infinite Sea read-along sweepstakes for a chance to win signed copies of all three books in The 5th Wave series and phone call with author Rick Yancey.

The Last Star will be available on May 24th. What questions are you most looking forward to having answered?

 

Our 10 Most-Anticipated YA Books of the Spring & Summer

Our 10 Most-Anticipated YA Books of the Spring & SummerMaybe I’m alone in this, but it seems like every year, right around January – March, I hit a book rut. There isn’t much new coming out that grabs my attention, and I end up attempting to decide what older books on my to-read list I feel like tackling. It has a tendency to leave me feeling like I’m reading “leftovers;” the stuff I was never super excited about but just mildly interested in, and it’s usually kind of depressing.

But good news, fellow book-lovers! March is here and there are all sorts of exciting new releases coming out this spring and summer to look forward to. Here’s a list of some of my most anticipated spring & summer YA book releases. Click through the titles to read more about each book on Goodreads, and get a peek at the current release date since some of these may be subject to change.

The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Curse #3) by Marie Rutkoski | March 29, 2016

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This book series has been steadily building toward its third and final installment, which readers can finally dig into at the end of the month! Early reviews have been promising, and I’m excited to see how all the strategy and manipulation finally plays out for Kestrel and Arin.

 

When We Collided by Emery Lord | April 5

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I always enjoy Emery Lord’s contemporary fiction, which tends to lean into comedic territory. When We Collided sounds like it might be a bit heavier than Lord’s past work, but I’m intrigued by the mysterious blurb and am excited to see Lord branch out a bit with her writing style.

 

The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater | April 26

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Another series finale, this is perhaps my most-anticipated book of the spring. Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series has not missed a beat since page one of the first book, and she has built such a lovely world full of unique characters and atmospheric writing. I can’t wait to see how this ends, and how on earth Stiefvater addresses the Gansey situation!

 

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Adieh | April 26

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The Wrath and the Dawn was my annual winter book rut-breaker last year around this time, so of course I’m excited for the follow-up! Adieh set up such an interesting world that I’m excited to return to it. I’m a little worried about how magic is going to be handled in book 2 since it felt a little awkward in the first, but I’m optimistic that the magic plotline will smooth out now that the bones of the story have been set up.

 

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | May 3

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Morgan Matson is one of those authors who can really do no wrong as far as I’m concerned, so I can’t wait to read her next book! It doesn’t even really matter what it’s about – Matson handles teenage characters, relationships, and quirks so wonderfully that the plot details are just icing on the cake. Plus the cover is full of cute dogs! They know how to win me over.

 

 

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins (and many more) | May 17

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I have mixed feelings about these short story compilation books. On the one hand, it’s a nice way to get a nice little story from a favorite author without having to wait for them to write an entire book. On the other, I usually find myself wishing for a book more along the lines of Let It Snow, which features three short-ish stories instead of a dozen extremely short stories. It just gives me more time to settle in. However, that won’t stop me from devouring this immediately – I’m especially looking forward to reading the short story by Ms. Perkins herself. Give us a new full length book soon, Stephanie!

 

The Last Star (The Fifth Wave #3) by Rick Yancey | May 24

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I promise this is the last final book from a series on this list! But c’mon…The Fifth Wave series is full of action and twists and tension and suspense and, well, ALIENS! What’s not to love? I’m intrigued to see how a world that was in such disarray at the end of book 2 finds resolution…or does it?

 

The Darkest Magic (Spirits & Thieves #2) by Morgan Rhodes | June 28

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Last year I read The Book of Spirits & Thieves with zero context of Falling Kingdoms, its companion series. The story still managed to hook me, and that’s with some of my biggest book red flags: a map and a list of characters in front, a heavy reliance on magic for plot momentum, and a relationship to a book series I’ve never read. I’ve since dabbled into Falling Kingdoms and have no doubt Rhodes will keep me hooked with this book!

 

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | July 26

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Whether Kasie West is tackling sci-fi dystopia or contemporary romance, she does it with style. Her contemporary styles are usually light and adorable while still having depth and wit. P.S. I Like You sounds like it should fit right in, and with a mysterious secret admirer plot line, I fully expect to be hooked from the first sentence.

 

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2) by Sabaa Tahir | August 30

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An Ember in the Ashes was one of my favorite books of 2015 – and probably my #1 favorite non-contemporary book of the year. The alternate universe spin on the Roman empire, the alternating perspectives between two amazing and conflicted characters, the unflinching ability to put those characters in the worst of situations without ever making the reader completely hopeless…it just all works, and the ambiguous ending makes me oh-so-glad another book is happening!

 

My most-anticipated books are part of series I enjoy or from my favorite authors, so I’m sure I missed lots of great ones that I just don’t know about! Let us know in the comments what YA books you’re most looking forward to this spring and summer!

Giveaway: ‘The 5th Wave’ Movie Tie-In Prize Pack

Has anybody else been counting down the months until the release of the movie adaptation of Rick Yancey’s YA alien invasion novel, The 5th Wave? The book is seriously fantastic, and all signs point to the movie being fantastic as well. It seems like it’s been a long wait, but we’re finally in the home stretch. A full trailer for the movie debuted recently, and now you can pick up a movie tie-in edition of the book.

To celebrate both the release of the movie tie-in book and the upcoming release of the film, we’re featuring a giveaway of some seriously fantastic goodies.

2 winners will each receive:

  • 1 copy of The 5th Wave movie tie-in edition book
  • 1 paperback copy of the sequel, The Infinite Sea
  • 1 Fandango gift certificate for $25 (so you can lock down your 5th Wave movie tickets ASAP!)

You can enter the giveaway below, and don’t forget to preorder your copy of the final book in the series, The Last Star, which will be out May 24th, 2016. I know, I know, it’s a long time to wait to find out the fate of Cassie and her crew, but hey, at least you’ve got the movie to look forward to in the meantime!

 

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Open to US addresses only. Giveaway closes 12/3/15.
Check out Rick Yancey on Twitter @RickYancey or at his official website.

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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