To reward myself on moving out of home, I ambled down to the local independent bookstore (Avid Reader at West End, for those playing at home) to have a browse. Having been out of the bookselling business for a couple of years now, it’s nice to get into a conversation with a staff member and ask for their recommends – because if anybody knows what’s hot off the presses and worth a look, it’s booksellers.
So I struck up a conversation with a young girl who was organising the YA section, who’s name, I found out later, was Hannah. She was lovely, friendly and keen to talk books with me, so when she pointed to a book called The 5th Wave and told me that it was an absolute thrill-ride and would be ‘the next big thing’ in YA, I was more than willing to take her advice.
The premise didn’t catch me really, and I should have stuck to my guns. I’ve never been a big sci-fi type, and aliens taking over the planet aren’t exactly attention-grabbing in my line of usual reads. Unfortunately for Rick Yancey, this book has done absolutely nothing to encourage me to try again.
So basically what happens is this girl Cassie – who’s name isn’t short for Cassandra, like any normal Cassie. Oh no, it’s short for Cassiopeia because her dad’s a nerd. Cliche numero uno – and Cassie is pretty much one of the only bitches left on Earth after aliens decide to wipe out the human race. Mmm, yeah okay, I’ll run with it. But then this happens in the midst of an info-dump about the junk Cassie has in her bag:
I’m sorry, but if you’re legitimately the only person left for a thousand fucking miles and your backpack is already full of shit you don’t need (like the copies of Huck Finn and Where The Sidewalk Ends – no I’m not joking) then your choice to carry your fucking useless cellphone means you deserve to die, and I don’t care about your stupid plight to save the human race. Frankly, I’d rather Earth succumb to the aliens if this is the dumb shit we can expect from our heroine.
But I let that slide because I thought, hey, she’s a teenager, and she obviously never got the chance to read The Hunger Games before the aliens arrived. It’s also not her fault because she’s a constructed figment of Yancey’s imagination. So when this happened, I started to shift the blame:
Now I am absolutely the last person to know anything about cars, right? But how in the name of fuck do the aliens have the power to immobilise them! Last I checked, engines weren’t connected to a central system that can just be switched on and off, they’re independently run and they fuck up whenever they want to, not in a chorus line. If someone can tell me how the logic of this works, I’m all ears, but so far, this has annoyed me because it’s so fucking ludicrous. Strike two, Yancey.
But here’s the kicker. I give it another couple of chapters, and even though I’m wading through a mountain of information that’s been aggressively dumped in my lap, I’m starting to see the story find it’s feet. And then, ladies and gentlemen, I am hit with something so profoundly brain-breaking that I simply cannot continue. Strike three goes to:
Now I’m going to go right ahead and blame several people for this deathpit of sentence construction, but first and foremost: HOW THE FUCK DID THIS PASS THROUGH EVERYONE? You cannot tell me that the seventy-six people who read this before it went to print accidentally missed it. Who the fuck is editing work these days?! Jesuschrist my eyes were so offended that I had to laugh away the tears, or I’d be swallowed by with the despair that comes with seeing that sentence PUBLISHED IN A NOVEL.
Needless to say, that was the nail in the coffin. I haven’t ever intentionally abandoned a book (fuck, I stuck it out with Anna Karenina for eight months, so that’s saying something) but there’s a first time for everything. If The 5th Wave is the next big thing, I am worried for our literary futures, but I’ll see the fillum if they leave out all the ridiculous bullshit.