Category Archives: Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey is Hitting the road. See him and get a book signed!

Rick Yancey has announced that he will be hitting the road this summer. The following locations is where Rick will be going. If you go to one of the stops you m ay be lucky enough to get one of the wristbands in the picture above.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Union Ave Books
Q & A/Book Signing
517 Union Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37902
(865) 951-2180
Time: 6:00 pm ET
www.unionavebooks.com

Saturday, June 27, 2015
LibCon
Orlando Public Library
101 E. Central Boulevard
Orlando, FL 32801
Time: TBD

Saturday, July 25, 2015
Alachua County Library District Teen Battle of the Books
401 E University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32601
Time: TBD

Saturday,September 26, 2015
Texas Teen Book Festival
St. Edward’s University
3001 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704
Time: TBD
http://texasteenbookfestival.org/

Saturday, October 10, 2015
Southern Festival of Books
War Memorial Auditorium
301 6th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37243
Time: TBD
http://www.humanitiestennessee.org/programs/southern-festival-books-celebration-written-word

Saturday, October 24, 2015
Provo City Library’s Teen Book Fest 2015
Provo City Library
550 N University Ave.
Provo, Utah 84601
Time: TBD

Saturday,November 15, 2015
YallFest
Upper King Street (Exact location TBD)
Charleston, SC
Time: TBD
http://yallfest.org/

Saturday, February 27, 2016
LibraryPalooza Festival
Brandeis High School
13011 Kyle Seale Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78249
Time: TBD
http://thatauthorthing.weebly.com/

Rick will also be coming to Miami in November at the Miami Book Fair. He does not know which day yet, but just know that the MBF is from November 15-22.

Wavers will you be going to visit Rick on tour? Which city stop will you be going to?

Photo:Rick Yancey has started writing Book 3 in ‘The 5th Wave’ series!

The second book in The 5th Wave series, The Infinite Sea was just released a week ago and now we have some great news.

Rick Yancey has officially started writing the third book in The 5th Wave series. He shared a picture on twitter captioned:

“Doing a bit of writing today. My next little project …”

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Wavers how excited does this make you?

USA Today reviews Rick Yancey’s ‘THE INFINITE SEA’!

 

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The second book in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series, The Infinite Sea, hits book stsores tomorrow, September 16th. USA Today has already reviewed The Infinite Sea.

Check out the review below:

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE INFINITE SEA!

Rick Yancey’s young-adult sci-fi novel The 5th Waveset up an expansive apocalyptic alien-invasion scenario. By comparison, his follow-up is an intimate character study.

The Infinite Sea impressively improves on the excellent beginning of the trilogy by focusing on the emotional turmoil faced by pitting complex youngsters against a massive and overpowering extra-terrestrial menace. With shifting points of view among its ensemble cast, the sequel makes the most of its themes of evolution and humanity while also highlighting two very tough and determined female protagonists and tapping into Yancey’s ocean of creativity.

Cassie Sullivan was the primary teenage heroine ofThe 5th Wave, searching for her little brother after a series of disasters — electromagnetic pulse wave, coastline-crushing tidal waves, a plague and outer-space organisms taking control of human hosts — wiped out most of mankind.

She and her kid-turned-soldier compadres — including high school crush Ben Parish, now a take-charge guy known as “Zombie” — gained an important win against the villains with the explosion of Camp Haven, where human tykes were being housed and brainwashed for mysterious reasons. And in The Infinite Sea, how the youngest kids are being used in disturbingly destructive fashion by the alien “Others” becomes very apparent.

Cassie and her bunch hole up in a nearby hotel to nurse injuries and figure out their next move before a freezing Midwestern winter takes them out before the Others do. Some in Cassie’s bunch yearn for the innocent days of school bells and soggy tater tots at lunch, and nobody can quite figure out the Others’ endgame. “It’s like they wanta fight,” one character opines. “Or want the fight to be interesting.”

The good news is that Evan Walker, who was presumably in the camp when it was blown up, turns up alive. He’s the hunky farm boy with superhuman abilities who also happens to be one of the aliens in disguise, though he is a good guy with major feelings for Cassie. The bad news, however, is that Evan has led another one of his kind to them, a tall blonde named Grace with the looks of a Nordic model and the obsessive killer focus of a Terminator.

The other main plot of The Infinite Sea focuses on Ringer, a hard-nosed human girl who breaks from her pack to find their missing 7-year-old pal Teacup and winds up in the clutches of the Others’ evil commander Vosch.

The psychopathic bad guy and Ringer engage in psychological gamesmanship. After enduring torturous treatment that exposes the inner workings beneath her hardened exterior, Ringer finds out important truths about the Others and discovers a possible love interest in Razor, one of Vosch’s guards.

By the end of the book, not only is Ringer one of the most dangerous characters of them all, she’s one of the best. “I don’t want to save the world,” she tells Vosch with ferocity. “I’m just hoping I might get the opportunity to kill you.”

While Cassie (and her Evan/Ben love triangle) is still at the heart of The 5th Wavetrilogy, Ringer becomes as integral a part of the franchise in The Infinite Sea, which features betrayals and sacrifices galore as well as one huge game-changing plot swerve.

It’s a potentially polarizing move by Yancey for the fan base, which is no doubt getting ready to consume any and all info about the upcoming 5th Wave movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz as Cassie.

Yet this new key reveal may make the franchise faithful re-read the first book in a new way, and will definitely make them ravenous for the final chapter.

The Infinite Sea

By Rick Yancey

Putnam Juvenile, 320 pp.

**** out of four

You can pick up The Infinite Sea in stores tomorrow.

Penguin Teen does Author’s Spotlight with Rick Yancey!

The Infinite Sea, the sequel to Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave hits book stores tomorrow. Penguin Teen did an author’s spotlight with Rick before the release of The Infinite Sea.

With all of us holding our breath in anticipation of the September 16th release of THE INFINITE SEA (What happened to Evan?!), we thought we’d bring in the man behind the wave: Rick Yancey! Read on to find out what he’s working on and a few other fun facts.

Name: Rick Yancey

Novel: THE INFINITE SEA

Available: 9/16/2014

Who’s your favorite author, living or dead?

I have two: Graham Greene and John Updike. Both such good writers they scare me.

What’s your favorite thing about your book?

The covers and the title pages. It still thrills me to see my manuscript typeset and laid out like a real book!

If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose?

Sherlock Holmes. Not that I’m anticipating a crime happening, but I think he would be an excellent survivalist.

Where do you write?

Two places: on my patio by the pool and in my head.

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history?

Abraham Lincoln. Came from nothing, saved everything.

Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted?

I do tweet. A funny, recurring one is my thumb taking on a mind of its own and I just tweet out my handle @rickyancey. People always favorite that one.

What is your favorite season?

“I praise the fall; it is the human season.” Archibald MacLeish.

If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go?

Someplace where there was oxygen.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Coffee. Music. A fan or heater going (depending on the season). Coffee.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

A sunset walk on the beach with my true love.

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

Bruce Springsteen, any of ‘em.

What are you currently working on?

The third book of The 5th Wave series. So fun. So scary. So tear-jerky.

Remember to follow Rick Yancey on Twitter or visit his personal website to keep up with him.

Rick Yancey has arrived in Atlanta for ‘The 5th Wave’ movie!

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Very exciting news The 5th Wave fans! Rick Yancey has arrived in Atlanta. Rick shared a tweet yesterday that consisted of 2 photos. One of his cute dog Max and the other of the express way in Georgia!

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The 5th Wave is slated to begin filming on September 1st.

Chloe Grace Moretz also tweeted that this is her last week of training before filming The 5th Wave.

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How exciting is this Wavers?

The 5th Wave is scheduled for a January 29, 2016 release date.

1st wave of ‘The Infinite Sea’ tour dates announced!

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Rick Yancey has announced the tour dates and cities for The Infinite Sea book tour.

1st Wave of The Infinite Sea Tour Dates:

9/16 NYC – Barnes and Noble
9/17 Danville, CA- Rakestraw Books
9/18 Corte Maderna- Book Passage
9/19 Naperville, IL- Anderson Bookshop

More stops are to be announced.

The Infinite Sea hits stores on September 16th.

Rick Yancey reveals ‘The Infinite Sea’ chapter titles!

We have a little over a month before The Infinite Sea is officially released in stores. Rick Yancey has just revealed the titles for seven of the chapters in the book.

Check out the list and photos below:

I. The Problem of Rats

2. The Ripping

3. The Last Star

4. Millions

5. The Price

6. The Trigger

7. The Sum of All Things

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Be sure to follow Rick Yancey on twitter @RickYancey

The Infinite Sea will be in bookstores on September 16th.

 

 

Read 3 chapters from ‘The Infinite Sea’ + Interview with Rick Yancey!

Wall Street Journal has released and excerpt from Rick Yancey’s The Infinite Sea. The Infinite Sea is the second book in The 5th Wave series by Yancey. 

WSJ: What was your task ahead when you set out to write the sequel to “The 5th Wave”?

Yancey:  I knew from the outset that certain assumptions and expectations held by the characters about the invasion did not hold up under close scrutiny, and there would be some readers who might finish the first book either puzzled or irate or both, assuming (incorrectly) that I simply did not know what I was doing as a writer. The central question raised in the first book (“what is the point of all this?’) is partially revealed in the second – the rest I must leave for the concluding volume.

I also had to address the fate of Evan Walker, a key player from the first book. It’s the question I hear the most from readers: “What happened to Evan?” That question is definitively answered in “The Infinite Sea.”

The biggest challenge in “The Infinite Sea” was the same one I faced in “The 5th Wave”: telling a coherent story from a variety of points-of-view. The second book introduces two new viewpoints: those of Ringer and the child-soldier named Poundcake. Of course, we also hear from Cassie (it would be impossible for me to keep her quiet for long).

“The Infinite Sea” begins with Ringer’s point-of-view. Why did you decide to start here?

It creates tension. It’s that simple. Beginning with an unfamiliar voice, in my opinion, forces a reader of the series into paying close attention and defies the expectation that we’ll begin with a familiar voice. I wanted to establish Ringer early, as well, because she plays such a crucial role as the book progresses. Finally, hers is the most intriguing voice for me as a writer. Cassie is all out-there, in your face, what you see is what you get. Ringer is an iceberg, three-fifths beneath the surface. A challenge to those around her – and to the person who created her.

The book is under a strict embargo before publication. Are readers going to be shocked?

I think they will be, though not where they might expect to be, if that makes any sense. The great thing about writing a thriller or anything with suspense using first-person narration is you’ve always got the reader immersed in the individual perspective, and this book, like the one before it, is told by characters whose perspective is limited or skewed by certain assumptions that are not necessarily true. Ringer tells the old story about the five blind men and the elephant and realizes this is exactly the phenomenon going on upon the arrival of the mothership. Things are not as they seem. The Others are the elephant; we are the blind men; and the true form of the invasion is not at all what it seems.

“The 5th Wave” is being adapted into a film. Are you involved with the process? Will the sequel also be adapted?

I am very much involved. I’m included in every major decision and very important people actually return my calls. But I understand and respect a fundamental truth: I write books; they make movies. They don’t tell me how to do my thing and I don’t tell them how to do their thing. They collaborate with a vast team of very talented people to put together art. I collaborate with a vast team of demons inside my head (and my editor, a different sort of demonic entity entirely – KIDDING).

The plan is for at least three films and I hope that happens. A lot will depend on how the first film performs. That’s Hollywood.

What has been most surprising to you about the reaction to “The 5th Wave”?

People tend to really like it or really not like it. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true of almost every book I’ve written. But better that way than a “meh.” This is the first of my books to be published in so many countries – 34 or 35 to-date – and I get a lot of messages from fans in other languages. Maybe they think I’m multi-lingual. I do a lot of copying-and-pasting to Google Translate.

Stephen Hawking inspired the setting of “The 5th Wave.” Did other influencers or ideas inspire “The Infinite Sea”?

I like to think of both books as “anti-pop-culture alien invasion stories.” The driving questions have been: Once society has been shattered, can the individual’s humanity be far behind? What defines who we are? What makes us unique – or not so unique – beyond the obvious (and often tedious) scientific explanations? In other words, what’s so damn special about us? Is the fate of one person important – and can it ever outweigh the good of the many?

These are pretty heavy subjects for a young-adult novel based on a tried-and-true scifi premise. So you bet I always keep in mind that the best stories tell by showing and it’s always great fun to blow something up. Plus kissing. You can’t forget kissing.

The 5th Wave was told in Cassie and Ben’s point of views. The Infinite Sea has added Ringer to the mix.

Read the 3 chapter excerpt from The Infinite Sea below:

THE INFINITE SEA

By Rick Yancey

 

1.

 

THE WORLD IS a clock winding down.

I hear it in the wind’s icy fingers scratching against the window. I smell it in the mildewed carpeting and the rotting wallpaper of the old hotel. And I feel it in Teacup’s chest as she sleeps. The hammering of her heart, the rhythm of her breath, warm in the freezing air, the clock winding down.

Across the room, Cassie Sullivan keeps watch by the window. Moonlight seeps through the tiny crack in the curtains behind her, lighting up the plumes of frozen breath exploding from her mouth. Her little brother sleeps in the bed closest to her, a tiny lump beneath the mounded covers. Window, bed, back again, her head turns like a pendulum swinging. The turning of her head, the rhythm of her breath, like Nugget’s, like Teacup’s, like mine, marking the time of the clock winding down.

I ease out of bed. Teacup moans in her sleep and burrows deeper under the covers. The cold clamps down, squeezing my chest, though I’m fully dressed except for my boots and the parka, which I grab from the foot of the bed. Sullivan watches as I pull on the boots, then when I go to the closet for my rucksack and rifle. I join her by the window. I feel like I should say something before I leave. We might not see each other again.

“So this is it,” she says. Her fair skin glows in the milky light. The spray of freckles seems to float above her nose and cheeks.

I adjust the rifle on my shoulder. “This is it.”

“You know, Dumbo I get. The big ears. And Nugget, because Sam is so small. Teacup, too. Zombie I don’t get so much—Ben won’t say—and I’m guessing Poundcake has something to do with his roly-poly-ness. But why Ringer?”

I sense where this is going. Besides Zombie and her brother, she isn’t sure of anyone anymore. The name Ringer gives her paranoia a nudge. “I’m human.”

“Yeah.” She looks through the crack in the curtains to the park­ing lot two stories below, shimmering with ice. “Someone else told me that, too. And, like a dummy, I believed him.”

“Not so dumb, given the circumstances.”

“Don’t pretend, Ringer,” she snaps. “I know you don’t believe me about Evan.”

“I believe you. It’s his story that doesn’t make sense.”

I head for the door before she tears into me. You don’t push Cassie Sullivan on the Evan Walker question. I don’t hold it against her. Evan is the little branch growing out of the cliff that she clings to, and the fact that he’s gone makes her hang on even tighter.

Teacup doesn’t make a sound, but I feel her eyes on me; I know she’s awake. I go back to the bed.

“Take me with you,” she whispers.

I shake my head. We’ve been through this a hundred times. “I won’t be gone long. A couple days.”

“Promise?”

No way, Teacup. Promises are the only currency left. They must be spent wisely. Her bottom lip quivers; her eyes mist. “Hey,” I say softly. “What did I tell you about that, soldier?” I resist the im­pulse to touch her. “What’s the first priority?”

“No bad thoughts,” she answers dutifully.

“Because bad thoughts do what?”

“Make us soft.”

“And what happens if we go soft?”

“We die.”

“And do we want to die?”

She shakes her head. “Not yet.”

I touch her face. Cold cheek, warm tears. Not yet. With no time left on the human clock, this little girl has probably reached middle age. Sullivan and me, we’re old. And Zombie? The ancient of days.

He’s waiting for me in the lobby, wearing a ski jacket over a bright yellow hoodie, both scavenged from the remains inside the hotel: Zombie escaped from Camp Haven wearing only a flimsy pair of scrubs. Beneath his scruffy beard, his face is the telltale scarlet of fever. The bullet wound I gave him, ripped open in his escape from Camp Haven and patched up by our twelve-year-old medic, must be infected. He leans against the counter, pressing his hand against his side and trying to look like everything’s cool.

“I was starting to think you changed your mind,” Zombie says, dark eyes sparkling as if he’s teasing, though that could be the fever.

I shake my head. “Teacup.”

“She’ll be okay.” To reassure me, he releases his killer smile from its cage. Zombie doesn’t fully appreciate the pricelessness of promises or he wouldn’t toss them out so casually.

“It’s not Teacup I’m worried about. You look like shit, Zombie.”

“It’s this weather. Wreaks havoc on my complexion.” A second smile leaps out at the punch line. He leans forward, willing me to answer with my own. “One day, Private Ringer, you’re going to smile at something I say and the world will break in half.”

“I’m not prepared to take on that responsibility.”

He laughs and maybe I hear a rattle deep in his chest. “Here.” He offers me another brochure of the caverns.

“I have one,” I tell him.

“Take this one, too, in case you lose it.”

“I won’t lose it, Zombie.”

“I’m sending Poundcake with you,” he says.

“No, you’re not.”

“I’m in charge. So I am.”

“You need Poundcake here more than I need him out there.”

He nods. He knew I would say no, but he couldn’t resist one last try. “Maybe we should abort,” he says. “I mean, it isn’t that bad here. About a thousand bedbugs, a few hundred rats, and a couple dozen dead bodies, but the view is fantastic. . .” Still jok­ing, still trying to make me smile. He’s looking at the brochure in his hand. Seventy-four degrees year ’round!

“Until we get snowed in or the temperature drops again. The situation is unsustainable, Zombie. We’ve stayed too long already.”

I don’t get it. We’ve talked this to death and now he wants to keep beating the corpse. I wonder about Zombie sometimes.

“We have to chance it, and you know we can’t go in blind,” I go on. “The odds are there’re other survivors hiding in those caves and they may not be ready to throw out the welcome mat, especially if they’ve met any of Sullivan’s Silencers.”

“Or recruits like us,” he adds.

“So I’ll scope it out and be back in a couple of days.”

“I’m holding you to that promise.”

“It wasn’t a promise.”

There’s nothing left to say. There’re a million things left to say. This might be the last time we see each other, and he’s thinking it, too, because he says, “Thank you for saving my life.”

“I put a bullet in your side and now you might die.”

He shakes his head. His eyes sparkle with fever. His lips are gray. Why did they have to name him Zombie? It’s like an omen. The first time I saw him, he was doing knuckle push-ups in the exercise yard, face contorted with anger and pain, blood pooling on the asphalt beneath his fists. Who is that guy? I asked. His name is Zombie. He fought the plague and won, they told me, and I didn’t believe them. Nobody beats the plague. The plague is a death sentence. And Reznik the drill sergeant bending over him, screaming at the top of his lungs, and Zombie in the baggy blue jumpsuit, pushing himself past the point where one more push is impossible. I don’t know why I was surprised when he ordered me to shoot him so he could keep his unkeepable promise to Nugget. When you look death in the eye and death blinks first, nothing seems impossible.

Even mind reading. “I know what you’re thinking,” he says.

“No. You don’t.”

“You’re wondering if you should kiss me good-bye.”

“Why do you do that?” I ask. “Flirt with me.”

He shrugs. His grin is crooked, like his body leaning against the counter.

“It’s normal. Don’t you miss normal?” he asks. Eyes digging deep into mine, always looking for something, I’m never sure what. “You know, drive-thrus and movies on a Saturday night and ice cream sandwiches and checking your Twitter feed?”

I shake my head. “I didn’t Twitter.”

“Facebook?”

I’m getting a little pissed. Sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine how Zombie made it this far. Pining for things we lost is the same as hoping for things that can never be. Both roads dead-end in despair. “It’s not important,” I say. “None of that matters.”

Zombie’s laugh comes from deep in his gut. It bubbles to the surface like the superheated air of a hot spring, and I’m not pissed anymore. I know he’s putting on the charm, and somehow know­ing what he’s doing does nothing to blunt the effect. Another rea­son Zombie’s a little unnerving.

“It’s funny,” he says. “How much we thought all of it did. You know what really matters?” He waits for my answer. I feel as if I’m being set up for a joke, so I don’t say anything. “The tardy bell.”

Now he’s forced me into a corner. I know there’s manipulation going on here, but I feel helpless to stop it. “Tardy bell?”

“Most ordinary sound in the world. And when all of this is done, there’ll be tardy bells again.” He presses the point. Maybe he’s worried I don’t get it. “Think about it! When a tardy bell rings again, normal is back. Kids rushing to class, sitting around bored, waiting for the final bell, and thinking about what they’ll do that night, that weekend, that next fifty years. They’ll be learning like we did about natural disasters and disease and world wars. You know: ‘When the aliens came, seven billion people died,’ and then the bell will ring and everybody will go to lunch and complain about the soggy Tater Tots. Like, ‘Whoa, seven billion people, that’s a lot. That’s sad. Are you going to eat all those Tots?’ That’snormal. That’s what matters.”

So it wasn’t a joke. “Soggy Tater Tots?”

“Okay, fine. None of that makes sense. I’m a moron.”

He smiles. His teeth seem very white surrounded by the scruffy beard, and now, because he suggested it, I think about kissing him and if the stubble on his upper lip would tickle.

I push the thought away. Promises are priceless, and a kiss is a kind of promise, too.

2.

 

UNDIMMED, THE STARLIGHT sears through the black, coat­ing the highway in pearly white. The dry grass shines; the bare trees shimmer. Except for the wind cutting across the dead land, the world is winter quiet.

I hunker beside a stalled SUV for one last look back at the hotel. A nondescript two-story white rectangle among a cluster of other nondescript white rectangles. Only four miles from the huge hole that used to be Camp Haven, we nicknamed it the Walker Hotel, in honor of the architect of that huge hole. Sullivan told us the hotel was her and Evan’s prearranged rendezvous point. I thought it was too close to the scene of the crime, too difficult to defend, and anyway, Evan Walker was dead: It takes two to rendezvous, I reminded Zombie. I was overruled. If Walker really was one of them, he may have found a way to survive.

“How?” I asked.

“There were escape pods,” Sullivan said.

“So?”

Her eyebrows came together. She took a deep breath. “So. . . he could have escaped in one.”

I looked at her. She looked back. Neither of us said anything. Then Zombie said, “Well, we have to take shelter somewhere, Ringer.” He hadn’t found the brochure for the caverns yet. “And we should give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“The benefit of what doubt?” I asked.

“That he is who he says he is.” Zombie looked at Sullivan, who was still glaring at me. “That he’ll keep his promise.”

“He promised he’d find me,” she explained.

“I saw the cargo plane,” I said. “I didn’t see an escape pod.”

Beneath the freckles, Sullivan was blushing. “Just because you didn’t see one. . .”

I turned to Zombie. “This doesn’t make sense. A being thou­sands of years more advanced than us turns on its own kind—for what?”

“I wasn’t filled in on the why part,” Zombie said, half smiling.

“His whole story is strange,” I said. “Pure consciousness occu­pying a human body—if they don’t need bodies, they don’t need a planet.”

“Maybe they need the planet for something else.” Zombie was trying hard.

“Like what? Raising livestock? A vacation getaway?” Some­thing else was bothering me, a nagging little voice that said, Some­thing doesn’t add up. But I couldn’t pin down what that something was. Every time I chased after it, it skittered away.

“There wasn’t time to go into all the details,” Sullivan snapped. “I was sort of focused on rescuing my baby brother from a death camp.”

I let it go. Her head looked like it was about to explode.

I can make out that same head now on my last look back, silhouetted in the second-story window of the hotel, and that’s bad, really bad: She’s an easy target for a sniper. The next Silencer Sullivan encounters might not be as love struck as the first one.

I duck into the thin line of trees that borders the road. Stiff with ice, the autumn ruins crunch beneath my boots. Leaves curled up like fists, trash and human bones scattered by scavengers. The cold wind carries the faint odor of smoke. The world will burn for a hundred years. Fire will consume the things we made from wood and plastic and rubber and cloth, then water and wind and time will chew the stone and steel into dust. How baffling it is that we imagined cities incinerated by alien bombs and death rays when all they needed was Mother Nature and time.

And human bodies, according to Sullivan, despite the fact that, also according to Sullivan, they don’t need bodies.

A virtual existence doesn’t require a physical planet.

When I’d first said that, Sullivan wouldn’t listen and Zombie acted like it didn’t matter. For whatever reason, he said, the bot­tom line is they want all of us dead. Everything else is just noise.

Maybe. But I don’t think so.

Because of the rats.

I forgot to tell Zombie about the rats.

 

3.

 

BY SUNRISE, I reach the southern outskirts of Urbana. Halfway there, right on schedule.

Clouds have rolled in from the north; the sun rises beneath the canopy and paints its underbelly a glistening maroon. I’ll hole up in the trees until nightfall, then hit the open fields to the west of the city and pray the cloud cover hangs around for a while, at least until I pick up the highway again on the other side. Going around Urbana adds a few miles, but the only thing riskier than navigating a town during the day is trying it at night.

And it’s all about risk.

Mist rises from the frozen ground. The cold is intense. It squeezes my cheeks, makes my chest ache with each breath. I feel the ancient yearning for fire embedded deep in my genes. The taming of fire was our first great leap: Fire protected us, kept us warm, transformed our brains by changing our diets from nuts and berries to protein-rich meat. Now fire is another weapon in our enemy’s arsenal. As deep winter sets in, we’re crushed be­tween two unacceptable risks: freezing to death or alerting the enemy to our location.

Sitting with my back against a tree, I pull out the brochure. Ohio’s Most Colorful Caverns!Zombie’s right. We won’t survive till spring without shelter, and the caves are our best—maybe only—bet. Maybe they’ve been taken or destroyed by the enemy. Maybe they’re occupied by survivors who will shoot strangers on sight. But every day we stay at that hotel, the risk grows tenfold.

We don’t have an alternative if the caves don’t pan out. No­where to run, nowhere to hide, and the idea of fighting is ludi­crous. The clock winds down.

When I pointed this out to him, Zombie told me I think too much. He was smiling. Then he stopped smiling and said, “Don’t let ’em get inside your head.” As if this were a football game and I needed a halftime pep talk. Ignore the fifty-six to nothing score. Play for pride! It’s moments like those that make me want to slap him, not that slapping him would do any good, but it would make me feel better.

The breeze dies. There’s an expectant hush in the air, the still­ness before a storm. If it snows, we’ll be trapped. Me in these woods. Zombie in the hotel. I’m still twenty or so miles from the caverns—should I risk the open fields by day or risk the snow holding off at least till nightfall?

Back to the word. It’s all about risk. Not just ours. Theirs, too: embedding themselves in human bodies, establishing death camps, training kids to finish the genocide, all of it crazy risky, stu­pid risky. Like Evan Walker, discordant, illogical, and just damn strange.The opening attacks were brutal in their efficiency, wip­ing out 98 percent of us, and even the 4th Wave made some sense: It’s hard to muster a meaningful resistance if you can’t trust one another. But after that, their brilliant strategy starts to unravel. Ten thousand years to plan the eradication of humans from Earth and this is the best they can come up with? That’s the question I can’t stop turning over and over in my head, and haven’t been able to, since Teacup and the night of the rats.

Deeper in the woods, behind me and to my left, a soft moan slices through the silence. I recognize the sound immediately; I’ve heard it a thousand times since they came. In the early days, it was nearly omnipresent, a constant background noise, like the hum of traffic on a busy highway: the sound of a human being in pain.

I pull the eyepiece from my rucksack and adjust the lens care­fully over my left eye. Deliberately. Without panic. Panic shuts down neurons. I stand up, check the bolt catch on the rifle, and ease through the trees toward the sound, scanning the terrain for the telltale green glow of an “infested.” Mist shrouds the trees; the world is draped in white. My footsteps thunder on the frozen ground. My breaths are sonic booms.

The delicate white curtain parts, and twenty yards away I see a figure slumped against a tree, head back, hands pressed into its lap. The head doesn’t glow in my eyepiece, which means he’s no civilian; he’s part of the 5th Wave.

I aim the rifle at his head. “Hands! Let me see your hands!”

His mouth hangs open. His vacant eyes regard the gray sky through bare branches glistening with ice. I step closer. A rifle iden­tical to mine lies on the ground beside him. He doesn’t reach for it.

“Where’s the rest of your squad?” I ask. He doesn’t answer.

I lower my weapon. I’m an idiot. In this weather, I would see his breath and there is none. The moan I heard must have been his last. I do a slow 360, holding my breath, but see nothing but trees and mist, hear nothing but my own blood roaring in my ears. Then I step over to the body, forcing myself not to rush, to notice everything. No panic. Panic kills.

Same gun as mine. Same fatigues. And there’s his eyepiece on the ground beside him. He’s a 5th Waver all right.

I study his face. He looks vaguely familiar. I’m guessing he’s twelve or thirteen, around Dumbo’s age. I kneel beside him and press my fingertips against his neck. No pulse. I open the jacket and pull up his blood-soaked shirt to look for the wound. He was hit in the gut by a single, high-caliber round.

A round I didn’t hear. Either he’s been lying here for a while or the shooter is using a silencer.

Silencer.

 

According to Sullivan, Evan Walker took out an entire squad by himself, at night, injured and outnumbered, sort of a warm-up to his single-handed blowing up of an entire military installation. At the time, I found Cassie’s story hard to believe. Now there’s a dead soldier at my feet. His squad MIA. And me alone with the silence of the woods and the milky white screen of fog.

Doesn’t seem that far-fetched now.

Think fast. Don’t panic. Like chess. Weigh the odds. Measure the risk.

I have two options. Stay put until something develops or night falls. Or get out of these woods, fast. Whoever killed him could be miles away or hunkered down behind a tree, waiting for a clear shot.

The possibilities multiply. Where’s his squad? Dead? Hunting down the person who shot him? What if the person who shot him was a fellow recruit who went Dorothy? Forget his squad. What happens when reinforcements arrive?

I pull out my knife. It’s been five minutes since I found him. I’d be dead by now if someone knew I was here. I’ll wait till dark, but I have to prepare for the probability that another breaker of the 5th Wave is rolling toward me.

I press against the back of his neck until I find the tiny bulge beneath the scar. Stay calm. It’s like chess. Move and countermove.

I slice slowly along the scar and dig out the pellet with the tip of the knife, where it sits suspended on a droplet of blood.

So we’ll always know where you are. So we can keep you safe.

Risk. The risk of lighting up in an eyepiece. The opposing risk of the enemy frying my brain with the touch of a button.

The pellet in its bed of blood. The awful stillness of the trees and the clinching cold and the fog that curls between branches like fingers interlacing. And Zombie’s voice in my head: You think too much.

I tuck the pellet between my cheek and gums. Stupid. I should have wiped it off first. I can taste the kid’s blood.

The Infinite Sea will be in bookstores on September 16th.

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