Rick Yancey's new book, The 5th Wave, sucked me in and pulled me under from the first page to the last with it's terrifying and thrilling story of an alien invasion like you've never seen. We made it our Best Teen Books of May Spotlight pick, and past Teen Best of the Month author, Marie Lu (Legend trilogy) is also a big fan. In this Omni exclusive, Lu chats with Yancey about The 5th Wave, movies, and, of course, aliens.
Marie Lu: Everybody loves aliens--myself included! But in your opinion, how has Hollywood gotten the “alien invasion” idea wrong?
Rick Yancey: I understand that movies are made by humans to be watched by humans, and depicting anything less than total victory over the bug-eyed swarm would be a bit much to ask for. The simple and, to my mind, undeniable truth is that life forms thousands, if not millions, of years more advanced than us probably wouldn’t view humans as anything special, or at least nowhere near as special as we view ourselves. I think we would be more like pesky insects to them, which raises the question (from their angle): Can we coexist, like humans do with cockroaches, or should we simply drive the disgusting infestation from existence? So I don’t believe that, if they find us, it’ll play out anything like the stereotypical alien drama.
They won’t come to teach us anything (Contact) or save us from ourselves (Close Encounters, The Day the Earth Stood Still) or pluck leaves and go home (E.T.). And they’ll be smart enough and careful enough not to damage too much of their new home (Independence Day) and they will remember to take their flu shot (War of the Worlds).
ML: The 5th Wave has been optioned for film, which is hugely exciting! Anything you can tell us about it?
RY: Under the terms of my contract, not much! I can tell you producers Graham King (Argo) and Tobey Maguire are on board, which is totally cool.
ML: Alright, the alien invasion is nigh and you're in survival mode. What would be in your survival kit?
RY: Toiletry kit (seriously, you’d want to keep yourself groomed. It grounds you. Also you better have a way to keep your teeth clean. You don’t want a bad tooth – check out Castaway if you doubt me). Basic first aid stuff, including penicillin and antibiotic ointment. A means of making fire. Solar-powered flashlight. A good hunting knife. A handheld mirror (to check yourself out and also to check around corners). A compass. Water bottle. And (speaking only for myself) enough medication to ensure an overdose in case the absolute worst comes upon me. If my end was inevitable, I’d make sure it was on my terms, not the alien bastards’.
ML: The five waves you outline in the book scare the bejeezus out of me. Which one frightens you the most?
RY: By far the 3rd Wave: the super-virus developed by the Others from Ebola Zaire. I won’t go into all the details here – there’s plenty in the book – but if you’ve ever read The Hot Zone, you know what I’m talking about. A slow, agonizing, horrifying way to die. Your organs liquefy. Your brain turns to mashed potatoes. The other waves are terrible, but they’re quick.
ML: Can you give us a sneak peek at what we’re going to see happen in Book 2?
RY: Did things seem a little desperate in Book 1? They get worse. We still haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink in order to rid the Earth of the human infestation. And we haven’t yet seen the heights to which the human spirit can reach. Certain characters introduced in Book 1 will come to the fore--and others will face the ultimate test. The Others will give their answer to Cassie’s defiance.