Hello, aliens; goodbye, world

The summer reading season has arrived. What better way to kick it off than by reading a terrific (not to mention terrifying) post-apocalyptic survival story that could very well be the next "Hunger Games"?

Rick Yancey's newest book, "The 5th Wave" (Putnam Juvenile, 2013) is a harrowing roller coaster ride through a world turned upside down by an alien invasion.

Sixteen-year-old Cassie ("Not Cassie for Cassandra. Or Cassie for Cassidy. Cassie for Cassiopeia, the constellation ") Sullivan is just an ordinary teenager, living an unremarkable life. Unremarkable, that is, until an alien mother ship begins to orbit the Earth.

In the 1st Wave, the aliens sent a massive electromagnetic pulse ripping through the atmosphere, knocking out the entire power grid and killing half a million people. The 2nd Wave was a giant tsunami that wiped out entire coastlines around the world. Goodbye to another 3 million. The 3rd Wave was a deadly plague spread by birds, killing 99 percent of the remaining population — including Cassie's mother.

The 4th Wave brought the Silencers — aliens (or The Others, as Cassie calls them) implanted inside the bodies of humans who stalk and kill the few remaining people.

After Cassie's father is killed and she is separated from her adorable 5-year-old brother Sammy during the 4th Wave, Cassie goes into full survival mode. Armed with an M-16, she is determined to find her brother but is wounded by a Silencer. She is rescued by the hunky Evan Walker (who looks like a "teenage version of the Brawny paper towel guy"), a farm boy with curiously soft, well-manicured hands.

Meanwhile, Cassie's high school crush and star football player Ben Parrish has been recruited to lead a unit of child soldiers (echoes of the kids in the "Ender's Game" books) to fight the aliens.

"The 5th Wave" might have been yet another young adult dystopia novel were it not for the emotional depth in Yancy's writing. The main characters — Cassie, Evan and Ben — have to make some heart-wrenching decisions, and I found myself really rooting for them.

The many action scenes make "The 5th Wave" a natural for the big screen, and indeed, actor Tobey Maguire has optioned the novel for a Sony Pictures Film trilogy.

As for the 5th Wave? To tell you would be giving too much away. You'll just have to find out for yourself.

Sara Latta is a science writer and author of 17 books for children and young adults. You can learn more about her work and link to past reviews athttp://www.saralatta.com.

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