The Wave – Morton Rhue
Laurie isn't sure what to make of 'The Wave.' It had begun as a simple history experiment to liven up their World War II studies and had become a craze that was taking over their lives. Laurie's classmates were changing from normal teenagers into chanting, saluting fanatics. 'The Wave' was sweeping through the school—and it was out of control. Laurie's friends scoff at her warnings but she knows she must make them see what they have become before it's too late.
Based on a nightmarish true episode in a Californian high school.
Review: Have you ever finished a book and thought, Wait, where’s the rest of it? It can’t be over? I still have so many questions! That was me with this book.
The Wave is a fictionalization of a real-life experiment that took place in a California high school in the 1960s. A history teacher wanted to help his students understand why the Germans went along with Hitler’s plan during WWII. Why didn’t more people resist Hitler? The teacher invented a “game” that he called The Wave. (In real life, it was called The Third Wave.) The game involved students working together to accomplish tasks—such as answering questions or getting to their seats on time—as quickly and precisely as possible. The game became so popular that most of the school started playing. The Wave players had their own chant, solute, and banner. The kids who played the game began bullying the ones who refused to play so viciously that the experiment had to be ended after 5 days. (Or 8 days, if you read the reports about the real-life experiment.)
“Strength through discipline! Strength through community! Strength through action!” – The Wave
For obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about fascism lately. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the subject. The story hooked me from the first page. I knew a little about the real-life experiment before I started reading, but I didn’t know how crazy things got. This novel is like reading a train wreck (in a good, suspenseful way). For the students, life gets very complicated, very quickly.
The “based on a true story” concept is pretty much the only thing I love about the book. The writing is . . . underwhelming. I never felt connected to the characters because they have very little personality outside of their roles in the experiment. If I had a better understanding of who they were before the experiment started, I might have understood their reactions to the game better.
I want to know more about everything. I was left with so many questions. How did the students react in the days after the experiment ended? Did they regret their participation? Where the majority of them just going along with the crowd, or did they really enjoy the game? I need to know! This book isn’t anywhere near long enough. It doesn’t have any analysis of what happened or why. I guess that’s what Google’s for.
“Overcome with anger, David grabbed her other arm. Why did she have to be so stubborn? Why couldn’t she see how good The Wave could be?” – The Wave
I also wonder how modern students would react if this experiment was repeated. It probably can’t be repeated because it caused stress for the students. It might be considered unethical. Still, I wonder. Would modern kids want to play the game, or would there be more resistance?
The Wave is worth reading because it provides a unique look at fascism, but I wish the book went more in-depth.