A couple of years ago Penguin published a good number of the pioneering Young Adult books, as followers of this blog know that I am not a huge fan of the genre, obviously there are exceptions but what bothers me is that they tend to have good ideas but they are dealt with in a superficial manner, then there are the tropes: pop culture references, the romantic interest, the awkwardness etc. At least, I can say that The Wave does have an original idea and avoids a lot of the YA cliches.
The plot is based on a true story where a teacher decided to replicate the discipline enforced by the Nazi party on its members: strict obedience, zero tolerance for expression and respect for one leader, this was called The Wave. In one way the experiment was a success as grades improved, nerds were treated properly but then students started to bully other pupils into joining and punishing students you refused to form part of The Wave. Eventually this ‘party’ was disbanded by the teacher who invented it.
Rhue documents all of this well. I personally enjoyed reading about the formation of The Wave and the change that overcame the students. However Rhue throws in tropes that ruin the story. There’s an unnecessary love subplot and towards the final few chapters the book does become ridiculous. Despite these niggling flaws I thought the Wave is a good documentation of human nature, sure it could have been done in depth, and I am not the right demographic but its fine. An impressionable 15 year old would love this.