cover image The Last Star

The Last Star

Rick Yancey. Putnam, $18.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-16243-5

Six weeks have passed since readers left Cassie, Ben, and their skeletal crew clinging to life at the end of The Infinite Sea, limping toward a final confrontation with the Others, inscrutable aliens who have engineered the near-extinction of the human race. Seven billion are dead. Those still alive cannot let down their guard. Silencers roam the countryside picking off survivors. This final installment of Yancey's 5th Wave trilogy again unspools from multiple perspectives, keeping readers as off-balance as the characters, who must adjust to a world where they can trust no one. Current events make it harder to read this dystopian epic as escapist literature when some plot elements%E2%80%94like the Others' use of suicide bombers not old enough to know what they're doing%E2%80%94are far from implausible. After hundreds of pages of violent, nonstop action, the ending provides both satisfaction and heartbreak. Ben perhaps gets to the heart of Yancey's theme when he says the only way to win against an irrational foe is to hold onto his humanity. "You're never perfectly safe," he says. "To live is to risk your life, your heart, everything." Ages 14%E2%80%93up. Agent: Brian DeFiore, DeFiore and Co. (May)