"I'm not normally a sci-fi person, but.. " —me, every single time I finish another smart, thrilling dystopian/apocalyptic/fantasy bestseller and try to explain to people why they have to read it RIGHT. NOW. It happened with The Hunger Games, it happened with the Uglies series, and it's about to happen today, because I just finished the last page of Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave, and holy....
The 5th Wave, about the effects of an alien invasion on present-day Earth, is one of the best books, sci-fi or not, all year. It centers on 16-year-old Cassie, who fights for her survival after four "waves" of attacks by an unknown, incredibly advanced alien species kill her parents, along with 99 percent of the world's population. It's a YA novel, but only in the sense that the heroine is a teenager. Believe me, it's fast-paced and terrifyingly real enough to hook any adult brave enough to give it a try.
The book has been getting rave reviews since its release in May, and so it wasn't a surprise when it was announced that a film adaption of the novel (as well as its two upcoming sequels) is in the works. Columbia Pictures is producing, and Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich), is set to adapt. It won't be released for awhile, of course, but anticipation is high. Entertainment Weekly has already started dream-casting the stars, recommending A-list actors like Elle Fanning for Cassie and The Spectacular Now's Miles Teller for Ben Parrish, Cassie's secret crush who turns out to have a much more major role in her life than she knows. They're all good choices, and it'll be exciting to see which young actors are chosen for roles that will likely be career-changers.
What makes me most excited, though, for the movie, is how dark it will likely be. The 5th Wave is a genuinely scary book. Terrible things happen to good people. Lots of people die. The Hunger Games, in which teens battled each other to the death, is a breezy fairy tale compared to some of the crazy things that happen in Yancey's novel. For a YA book, it's way darker than you'd expect, which will likely make for a great movie. For an action sci-fi movie to resonate, the stakes need to be high. Ninety-nine percent of the world's population killed by a series of vicious, frighteningly realistic alien attacks? They can't get much higher.
It'll be interesting to see how The 5th Wave movie markets itself towards audiences. If it advertises as a YA adaptation, parents will flock with their kids, and boy, will they be in for a nasty surprise. If it's marketed as a dystopian thriller for older teens and adults, though, which hopefully, it will be, it could reach the same audiences that made District 9 and World War Z box office champions.