For readers, we should see very little change in the near term and it’s difficult to guess exactly how it will affect us later. Both houses have been reluctant to engage in the high volume discounting that HarperCollins and Hachette employs. One thing that could be improved and consolidated is the production teams. Maybe ever RH digital book will finally have a color cover! We may also see a pooling of resources to improve the technological access to books. GalleyCat
Dear Mr. Yancey,
I already can hear readers groaning. “Oh no, not another post-apocalyptic novel!” Believe me, I sympathize. Thanks to The Hunger Games, post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels have flooded the young adult genre. But despite this, The 5th Wave caught my eye because while it is a post-apocalyptic novel, its premise is based on an alien invasion. Not a common theme in a subgenre filled with oppressive governments and scarce resources.
In your novel, aliens came to earth with the intention of taking it over. Of course, mankind’s presence is a problem so they unleash “waves” upon the populace. Each wave is an assault tailored to decrease the population. The first wave knocks out electricity. The second wave causes tsunamis. The third wave is a plague.
By the time the fourth wave rolls around, humanity lives in small pockets. This makes it easy for this next assault, which consists of aliens hidden in human form. Their sole mission is to kill the remnants of humanity.
It’s now the dawn of the fifth wave. By this point, there are few survivors and thanks to the fourth wave, they are unable to trust each other and remain isolated. It was an effective strategy. If you have no idea the person you just met is a human or an alien, how can you trust them?
If I have to describe The 5th Wave, I’d say it’s a cross between I Am Legend and Ender’s Game. The novel is primarily told from the perspectives of human survivors, Cassie and Ben, with Cassie’s sections reminding me of I Am Legend and Ben’s sections reminding me of Ender’s Game.
Cassie is the sole survivor of a fourth wave attack. These days, her main purpose in life is to find her little brother who she believe is being held captive by the aliens. I really enjoyed Cassie’s early sections. Her paranoia and suspicion was extremely well done. The scene involving the wounded soldier with the crucifix encapsulated her character at that point in time: scared, unable to trust, and desperate. Fitting considering what had happened to the world, to humanity, and to her.
Unfortunately, this all changes when she meets Evan Walker. I wasn’t thrilled with his character. You know how so many YA novels have the creepy, overbearing love interest who does what he does for the female protagonist’s own good? Evan is that guy times ten. I found his behavior to be stalkerish. He lurk outside her bedroom door countless times, listening. He takes care of Cassie, by which I mean, keeps her in his farmhouse. He doesn’t share any of his secrets with her. While I think their romance was borne out of loneliness and a certain brokenness on Cassie’s part, I was so creeped out by Evan — and perhaps this is deliberate, considering his “secret” — that I couldn’t even pretend to be okay with it.
As you can guess, I thought his secret was obvious. Being deliberately vague so as to avoid spoilers, I think the lack of dramatic reveal could have been saved had more been done with it. What does it mean to be human? What separates human nature and alien nature? These themes come up over the course of the novel, and Evan would have been the perfect avenue to explore them explicitly. But since this didn’t happen, his character became something of a sponge who absorbs Cassie’s wants and desires instead.
On the other hand, Ben’s storyline left me cold. I think readers who like fictional depictions of the making and breaking of soldiers would like his parts more than I did. As for me, I spent most of the novel wondering when Ben and Cassie would meet. (It’s told early on that they went to school together and that Cassie had a huge crush on Ben.)
Which leads us to the final point. This is, of course, not a standalone and the first book in a series. It sets up a love triangle, or maybe even a love rectangle. If anything, that’s what turns me off to reading the next one. The romantic aspects were poorly executed here, and I’m not convinced they’ll improve.
That said, this book does have lots of action. Readers tired of post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels that are all emo and introspection might find this right up their alley. Does it live up to all the hype? (This was billed as the next Hunger Games.) That is another matter entirely, and my answer is no. C+
Dear Ms. LaMarche,
After going on a bit of an older YA/NA reading spree while on vacation, I found myself in the mood for more contemporary fare over my usual SF&F preferences. Your novel, Five Summers, fell right into that category. Add in evolving friendships between girls as they grow up and I was sold.
From ages 10 until 14, Emma, Skylar, Maddie, and Johanna attended a month-long summer camp. They met at camp and forged their friendships at camp. But all things come to an end and after their last summer camp at age 14, despite their efforts, those strong friendships faltered, communication lapsed, and they drifted apart.
Three years later, the four girls come together for a weekend reunion at the summer camp. It’s a chance for them to catch up and reconnect. At least that was the idea. But things start going wrong when secrets from their previous summers at camp rise to the surface and begin to destroy what weak bonds they have left.
What I liked best about Five Summers was that each of the girls, while fitting a recognizable archetype, never fell into complete and utter cliche. Emma is the brilliant girl on the Ivy League track. Skylar is the hippie artist. Maddie is the poor girl lying about her background. Jo is the tomboy daughter of the camp’s owner. I thought this was partly because their relationships with each other were fleshed out and complicated. Friendships, especially among teenaged girls, can have their ups and downs and the novel did a great job portraying that.
I wasn’t quite as thrilled about Emma and Skylar fighting over the same guy. It’s a predictable plotline, yes, but I’ve never been a fan of the “best friends going after the same boy” storyline. Mostly because it tends to devolve into an ugly fight between the girls while the boy is often portrayed as an innocent bystander who got caught up in the crossfire. Despite my initial lukewarm reaction, however, I thought this subplot redeemed itself at the end when the boy in question, Adam, is called out on his B.S. That’s really all I want: for the narrative to acknowledge when something or someone is in the wrong. And believe me, Adam is a jackass.
That said, I wish something more had been done with Emma and Skylar’s sexualities. The two are meant to contrast: Emma who wasn’t ready when she was 14 but is now and Skylar who started having sex early but is realizing that maybe mindless hookups aren’t what she’s really looking for. I think Emma got the better end of the deal in terms of exploration but Skylar’s epiphany was somewhat shortchanged.
Unfortunately, the Emma and Skylar drama overshadowed the stories revolving around Maddie’s coming clean about her background and Jo finding her own identity outside of the camp owner’s daughter. I never really got a handle on Maddie’s character and at times I thought Jo served as the afterschool special moment. Did you know that athletic girls who don’t like “girly” things might not be lesbians? Yeah. I appreciated what the narrative was trying to do with Jo’s character. That it was all right for girls not to like wearing dresses, that there is no wrong way to be a girl. But I’m not entirely convinced this effort succeeded since the narrative then goes on to call Jo “weird” and “abnormal.”
I’ll admit Five Summers is a predictable read. It does some things I wish more stories would do (call the boy out on his bullshit, show that there are many right ways to be a girl) but it isn’t what I’d call subversive or challenging. There’s nothing wrong with that but this is what I’d call more of a relaxing comfort read than anything else. B-
Important! My family and I are doing *things* this next week so I’m taking a mini vacation from Dear Author News. We’ll still have our daily reviews and daily deals (of course) but unless I’m feeling really energetic, there won’t be any news again until Wednesday, May 29. That’s when BEA starts and I suspect there will be important news then.
On June 3 the price fixing case with Apple starts. I will be glued to PACER and will bring you what daily reports I can from the filings. Don’t break Dear Author while I’m gone, you guys!
Also, don’t forget we have the Nalini Singh / Ghost chat on Twitter tonight.
I’m hosting a twitter chat with “The Ghost” on Thursday, May 23rd, from 9:00 to 10:00 pm EDT. Even if you are not on twitter, you can follow along at this link. You may not want to come if you don’t want to know any spoilers about Heart of Obsidian.
Nonetheless, Amazon is launching “Kindle Worlds” a “commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so.
Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for its New York Times best-selling book series Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith; and plans to announce more licenses soon.
Through these licenses, Kindle Worlds will allow any writer to publish authorized stories inspired by these popular Worlds and make them available for readers to purchase in the Kindle Store.” Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to both the rights holders of the Worlds and the author. The standard author’s royalty rate (for works of at least 10,000 words) will be 35% of net revenue. As with all titles from Amazon Publishing, Kindle Worlds will base net revenue off of sales price—rather than the lower, industry standard of wholesale price—and royalties will be paid monthly.
It is instructive to look at the licenses that Amazon has secured. Alloy Entertainment is a book packager and all those series are packages to which Alloy (and not the writer who is really just a work for hire) owns. But it’s a movement toward selling actual fan fiction instead of repackaged fan fiction like EL James’ Fifty Shades series.
Authors Guild should set up a licensing agency ala Henry Fox’s music licensing agency but it won’t.
Engadget has a pretty good review. It says that the light is better than on the nook and slightly better than on the Kindle.
Dear Ms. Walker:
You and I are friendly on Twitter, but for the most part in the past, your books have not worked very well for me. But when I read the blurb for Wrecked, it sounded right up my alley. Abigaile Applegate and Zach Barnes are tied inextricably together by their past as child stars of the wildly popular Kate + Nate show. When Kate + Nate ended, Abigaile gladly left all of the trappings of Hollywood behind, including her conniving, ambitious mother who spent her money and allowed her boyfriends to make passes at her 15 year old daughter. Abby moves on with her life, becoming a successful caterer. Her only anchor to that past life is how often she’s recognized and Zach. She and Zach have been best friends for years, he’s her family and her support system. What she doesn’t realize is that he’s been in love with her forever.
When Abigaile’s fiance dumps her because she’s “not being true to herself” (he means she should still be acting), she falls apart. She’s maintained sanity after Hollywood by structuring and planning every moment of her life, but she never anticipated that Roger would dump her. Of course, Zach is there to support her. Unbeknownst to Abby, Zach is hoping that Roger’s loss is his gain.
Zach is an accomplished tattoo artist. He left the trappings of fame behind him quite easily, with the exception of his friendship with Abigaile, which he has cherished and nurtured forever, he’s a mostly regular guy. He knows that Abigaile journals relentlessly, planning out each and every detail of her life. After witnessing her devastation over the break-up, he buys her a new journal, aptly titled, Wreck This Journal. The idea being that she should break away from her regimented life and live a little.
Abigaile makes a new list:
1- Stop worrying so much about the future.
2- Call Roger and tell him off.
3- Flip off the next photographer that you see.
4- Get a tattoo.
5- Have a torrid affair with a hot guy.
She decides to start with the tattoo and she wants Zach to do it for her. Giving Abby the tattoo is sweet torture for Zach, but it leads to conversation between them where Abby finally asks if Zach has ever been in love. Of course, he has. But why did he never do anything about it? Because she never noticed.
This gets Abby’s wheels turning. She’s been feeling the attraction to Zach for some time, but is quite sure that he’d never want to jeopardize their close friendship by attempting something more. Will they ever act on their mutual attraction and become the couple they’re meant to be?
I’m going to be honest, this book doesn’t cover new ground. It’s relatively predictable, and the characters should have been stock. Here’s the thing though, I was charmed. I loved how Zach pined for Abby. I loved her idiosyncrasies. They were a couple that fit together beautifully. They have terrific chemistry and the sex, once they get there, is very well written and emotional. There is a terribly romantic scene where Zach creates some art for Abby that is both titillating and really sexy. Overall, it’s just a charming, fun, entertaining, quick read. I wouldn’t have imagined that your writing voice, which I’ve always thought of as super angsty and a little dark would be so well suited to writing light, fun, contemporary romance. But I found this one to be all of those things. I’m hopeful that this book will be a success so we can have more from you as soon as possible. Final grade: B+