THE WAVE is a book that has been on my radar for years. It's kind of like a cross between Robert Cormier's CHOCOLATE WAR with a heaping dose of the Stanford Prison experiment. After teaching a class on WWII-era Germany and showing a gruesome video of the camps, the students are horrified and ask, "Why would anyone do such a thing?" Ben, this brilliant, understated genius, decides he's going to SHOW them why, and it never once occurs to him that this could be dangerous.
I thought this book was executed fairly well, but it was incredibly frustrating to read. Everyone in this book was so stupid. I guess that's the point, though. People come up with ill-conceived ideas all the time. Every week, there's a BuzzFeed article or viral Twitter post about some adult human who got a "great idea" that really wasn't so great, and it took millions of people saying so before they saw the writing on the wall.
What didn't work for me was that the teacher never really seems to take full responsibility for his actions. He's reluctant to part with his precious experiment, and even at the end when he FINALLY puts a stop to it, his first order of action is to gaslight the kids and make them feel bad about themselves for the movement that HE put in motion. The only likable character in this book, really, is the Nancy Drew-esque plucky teen reporter, Laurie, who risks quite a lot to take on the Wave as it reaches critical mass.
It's worth a read if you want to learn about the mechanics of fascism and human stupidity on a scalable level, but I don't think I'd revisit it. This is definitely an author you'll enjoy if you like Robert Cormier, though, as the two have a fairly similar writing style and seem to enjoy taking on edgy subject matter.
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars