Friday, January 15, 2016
7:00 AM | Posted by Emily Alfano |
Today we are pleased to welcome back guest writer Beth Kelly to the blog.
Beth Kelly is a freelance writer and blogger based in Chicago, IL. After graduating from DePaul University with a degree in Communications she taught English throughout Southeast Asia. Now back in the Windy City, more often than not you can find her baking bread at home with her pet rabbit Anthony Hopkins. She’s currently studying Italian and hopes to travel to Europe this summer. Find her on Twitter @bkelly_88
Power to the (Human) People: Could The 5th Wave Be Real?
No trend in YA lit has gotten quite as much attention over the past couple of years than dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels. Readers young and old are both enticed and alarmed by a world that looks so much like our own but could crumble so easily around us. Heroes and heroines like Katniss Everdeen and The Maze Runner's Thomas are great for intense stories, but they also serve as mirrors for young readers. In the 2013 novel The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, 16-year-old Cassie Sullivan must face "waves" of alien destruction that take out most of the world's population and push them back into a Stone Age-like existence. This novel and its sequels are especially chilling because the methods of otherworldly destruction are not too far off from some problems we’re seeing in the world today.
In the novel, the first wave is an electromagnetic surge that results in mass power failure all over the world. Thousands die instantly due to failures in cars and airplanes, and the lack of functioning telephones and computers make mass communication impossible. While electric companies have long built natural gas and oil-powered generators close to customers, USA Today has shared that there have been over 360 attacks on the U.S. power grid over the last four years, proving that the power grid is certainly vulnerable to critical destruction and the potential for continuing attack attempts is high.
Due to the alien "Others" controlling the destruction in The 5th Wave, they know that a huge percentage of the Earth's people live in coastal areas, so they drop gigantic steel beams onto major fault lines to cause devastating tsunamis. Though this disaster was caused by a malevolent force in the novel, the type of destruction is completely possible for our own planet. In 2014 alone, natural disaster events like heatwaves, floods and ongoing droughts can all be traced back to man-made climate change, showing that we don't exactly need an alien race to come in and alter our world indefinitely.
The third wave in the novel is the one that is most immediately familiar to our own world. The aliens infect the Earth's birds with an Avian flu that turns humans into a bleeding viral time bomb ripe for infecting everyone around them. The disease spreads quickly and violently, much like so many diseases in our history, like Ebola or the Spanish flu. In 2015, scientists discovered a strain of bacteria that is resistant to most of our known antibiotics, which shows just how quickly an epidemic on Earth could get out of hand, and with no help in sight.
Though this wave is the one closest to science-fiction rather than real life, we do have a basis for why we should fear this type of upheaval. The fourth wave in the novel involves the aliens inhabiting the bodies of humans and gaining the trust of the survivors, resulting in them killing off 97 percent of the remaining population. In popular media like the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, audiences have watched in horror as alien races take over families and next-door neighbors, showing that we can't always trust the people who we're closest to. This mirrors political fear stemming from the Red Scare during the Cold War and similar widespread events of panic all over the world, showing that humans have a strange history with the concept of trust.
Although post-apocalyptic tales like The 5th Wave (hitting screens January 22) are thrill rides meant to entertain, they are not created in a vacuum. More often than not, life imitates art, so we better keep our eyes on the world around us for who knows what’s waiting out in the galaxy beyond!
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