The Last Star: The Final Book of The 5th Wave
It has been just over three years since bestselling author Rick Yancey first gripped readers’ hearts with THE 5TH WAVE, the story of Cassie, a teenage girl left alone to search for her brother after a series of extraterrestrial attacks wipe most of the earth’s population. Since then, Cassie has found her brother, a twisted love interest and a band of teenagers-turned-soldiers who are all ready to lay down their lives to save humanity. For two books, readers have witnessed Cassie’s transformation from self-absorbed teen into lionhearted fighter, all while chuckling at her ever-present wit. And now, with the release of THE LAST STAR, Yancey concludes his series by sending Cassie --- and Zombie, Nugget, Ringer and Evan --- into the ultimate fight for her planet.
"Yancey manages to strike the perfect balance between irony, wit and drama without seeming forced or campy....[He] has capped off his riveting series with a perfect ending."
THE LAST STAR picks up not long after THE INFINITE SEA left off. Cassie, still torn between her love of Evan and her fear of his kind, is focusing her energy on reminding Sam what it means to be a family. Ringer --- believed MIA by Cassie and the gang --- has been “enhanced” and is focused on eliminating Evan Walker so she can enact revenge on the man who betrayed her without him getting in the way. Zombie, ever the leader, remains untrusting of Evan and focused on reuniting with Ringer and Teacup before the end of days. While it may seem like Yancey is picking up in a nearly indecipherable web of secrets, betrayals and states of being, his impressive structuring once again propels his narrative, immersing the reader so fully that there is little room for confusion.
Alternating between the viewpoints of Cassie, Ringer, Zombie, Sam and others, THE LAST STAR takes place over the course of three action-packed days, or, more specifically, the last three days of Earth. Evan Walker has a plan that he hopes will save humanity --- aka Cassie --- but, in the end, he is not the hero Earth needs. That hero, of course, is Cassie. Cassie who, even when all hope for rescue is lost, still demands that young Sam learn his ABCs and remember the face of his mother. Cassie, who loves Evan in ways that even she cannot understand, but knows that they will not celebrate a fairy tale ending. Cassie, the personification of humanity.
Although readers have been cheering Cassie on for years, I believe it is Sam who truly shines in THE LAST STAR. If THE LAST STAR can be classified as character-driven science fiction, Sam is one of the most powerful forces of its narrative. Through Sam, we see the true effects of humanity’s downfall, as he finds it easy to shoot a person, but less so to remember to bathe. He loves his sister, but feels a stronger, everlasting bond with Zombie, because Zombie is his sergeant in a world where his family’s promises have been annihilated more often than not. Following Sam’s journey through his own eyes added a heartbreaking and deliciously visceral element to THE LAST STAR that I found missing from THE INFINITE SEA.
Because the story takes place over only three short days, it is impossible to go on without spoiling the ending to a series fans have loved for years. I will say this: yes, there are major deaths, yes, there is a resolution to the war, and yes, you will cry. That said, I applaud Yancey for not shying away from the difficult paths his characters had no choice but to take --- I cannot imagine how hard it was to write this story. Still, Yancey manages to strike the perfect balance between irony, wit and drama without seeming forced or campy. His teenage-humor is so spot-on because it does not, can not, rely on props, but only the thoughts of his characters, making THE LAST STAR a truly ambitious and successful undertaking. Yancey has capped off his riveting series with a perfect ending.
Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on May 26, 2016