This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales and The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey bring together my two favorite types of books. I love realistic fiction with believable characters and a great story and I also love a book that is both dreadful and compelling.
This Song Will Save Your Life speaks to the insecure person in most (if not all) of us and gives hope to teens struggling with self-doubt. Elise is not just insecure, not just unpopular, she is maliciously preyed upon by bullies. Shortly after a failed suicide attempt, Elise sneaks out of her mother’s house to take a long walk during the night. She stumbles upon a couple of club kids who pull her into an underground nightclub……and here is where what every unpopular girl dreams of comes true. Elise makes cool new friends (much cooler than the popular kids at school), meets a boy, and finds her place in the world. Sometimes it’s hard to get close to new people because they don’t know your past, but in Elise’s case people who don’t know her past are exactly what she needs to help her see herself more clearly.
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is an intense page-turner that opens with Cassie, a sixteen-year-old girl alone in the woods wondering if she is the last human left on earth. Cassie has survived four waves of alien attacks, and is on an improbable mission to find her young brother Sammy. The narrative is not linear and it flips between Cassie, Sammy, and Ben, a high school football star turned heartless soldier in the aftermath of the 4th wave. This jarring narrative (rather than being distracting) puts the reader right on pace with the characters, for whom everything changes from moment to moment. Enemies become allies, leaders become villains, and friends become murderers. Everyone in The 5th Wave is either already dead, dying or soon to be dead and the characters must decide how and why to go on when there is no hope for the future. The 5th Wave is an intense page turner full of deception and despair, but it peppered with just enough hope to keep me optimistic.
Now comes the hard part. I really enjoyed both of these books and they are so different it’s really hard to pit one against the other. This Song Will Save Your Life is an uplifting story about important social issues. It has a great message and characters that I could really connect with, but in the end I’m a sucker for suspense and Rick Yancey’s intense story had me engrossed from the first page to the last.
WINNER: THE 5th WAVE BY RICK YANCEY