A review by leahsbooks
The Wave by Todd Strasser, Morton Rhue

dark fast-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


If you've ever asked yourself "How did the nazis get so many people to follow them?" this is the book for you. It's based on an actual experiment that occurred in a high school in Palo Alto in 1969, and it's horrifying.

It starts out innocent enough. An innovative and engaging high school history teacher sets out to make his class interesting while answering this question, by creating a social experiment. On the first day he introduces his class to the motto "strength through discipline," and sees some positive changes. The experiment continues for the next few days and it grows exponentially, spreading rapidly through the school until everyone starts to want in on The Wave, as this movement has come to be known as. But then it takes a creepy turn, and stops being fun.

As The Wave spreads, it starts to have unintended effects, and these high school kids start to see first-hand exactly how people could get caught up in something that they may not normally have been willing to engage in.

The story was a short one, and it was a little simplistic. I know it was based on a real event, but I would have liked to see a little more depth to it. While the experiment was clearly a powerful one, I didn't really get to bond with the characters, and would have liked to get to know them a little better and see the character development in more depth. It all felt a little too simplistic for my tastes. The characters that were explored in the most depth were Ben Ross, the teacher, and Laurie Saunders, but even those felt surface-level. From my understanding of the actual social experiment, it went into even further depth - the students were able to create a revolution of their own, but had to be on guard against getting caught by the monitors. This book left that out completely. I think this could have been an even more powerful story than it already was, and a fascinating study of how human nature can be used to take advantage of the herd mentality. 

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