The short: 2/5 ✦. After a promising start, this disappointing final installment of The Fifth Wave trilogy crashes and burns.
This book is a hot mess.
I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the first two books, but they were at least enjoyable quick reads.
I have no idea what happened in this book and I didn’t care about any of the characters, not even the ones who ended up dead.
The reason why it gets two stars instead of one is that I didn’t outright hate it; putting aside the plot issues, the writing itself is pretty good (even if very pretentious in some parts), and Yancey has the ability to maintain fast-paced action to keep you reading. Honestly, though, the languid “prologue” prose was better than that of the rest of the book: snark and swears and snappy sentences seems to be Yancey’s default for teenager POVs, regardless of who is speaking.
And maybe I’m just oblivious, but I didn’t feel that much of anything was really answered in this final installment; the summary is even confused: are the Others good or bad? Are they our destroyers or our saviors? How much do you even care? Yancey kept hammering in the moral of this whole trilogy whenever he could (humanity conquers all; love conquers all), but I never believed it. I didn’t buy the explanation for the Others’ presence, nor for their proposed destruction. In the end, none of it made sense.
I still hate Cassie. No matter what heroics she went through, she still abandoned her brother — her poor, traumatized six-year-old brother — for a boy she barely knew. I hate that said brother, Sam, was traumatized at all; it was horrible to read and felt largely unrealistic, though I realize war is a terrible thing that indeed does terrible things to people, even children. I think the problem was that his trauma felt purposeless. It doesn’t really affect the other characters (Cassie, barely), and it certainly doesn’t affect the plot. It’s just an unnecessary horrible detail in an infinite sea (heh) of unnecessary horrible things. Just because a writer can have something happen doesn’t mean they should. (I felt similarly about the end of Michael Grant’s BZRK series.) In any case, all the characters’ motivations were all over the place and often contradictory, and it just contributed to the overall hot mess-ness of everything.
The series started out with some promise: the idea of aliens slowly destroying earth and humans being both the problem and solution to this is interesting and relatively unique — if the instalove romance doesn’t turn you off. I’m not sure what happened between The Fifth Wave and The Last Star, either a too-short deadline or a realization of plot weaknesses too late to correct, but regardless, the book suffers for it.
Header image: The Last Star by Rick Yancey, published May 24th 2016 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.