The Wave is the gripping, young adult novelisation of “The Third Wave”, a history class teaching experiment, conducted by Ron Jones in 1967 at a Californian High School that had catastrophic consequences. Although names have been changed within Todd Strasser’s depiction, the chilling events and meaning behind the experiment remain the same.
When Ben Ross’s history class struggles to understand how the Nazi Party rose to power and held the people’s favour throughout the reign of the Third Reich, he decides to initiate a class experiment called ‘The Wave’. Students are instructed to follow particular rules, such as standing when answering a question, signalling ‘The Wave’ symbol at the beginning and end of class, and wearing a ‘uniform’ to identify the group. Mr Ross begins to indoctrinate the class with the slogan ‘STRENGTH THROUGH DISCIPLINE’. When the class responds well to this, developing a sense of empowerment, they introduce two more slogans including, ‘STRENGTH THROUGH COMMUNITY’ and ‘STRENGTH THROUGH ACTION’. Just as the population of Germany began to envelop the collective voice of the nation’s leader, Mr Ross’s history class expands in popularity, gaining more power throughout the school. Before long, the movement has the power to exile outsiders, condemn non-conformists and anyone who disagrees with the beliefs of ‘The Wave’.
Strasser depicts the sheer danger of the situation with beautiful precision, allowing the reader to be taken by the success of ‘The Wave’ before slowly displaying the cracks through character’s who eventually notice the menace of the movement. Strasser has created the perfect fictionalisation of just how enticing a movement such as ‘The Wave’ can be, and sheds a controversial light on the atrocities witnessed throughout World War II, begging the question, ‘If you had been in the same situation, could you have resisted the pull of a unified, strong community?’
Using his expertly crafted suspense, Strasser leads up to an ultimate ending that will have reader’s awake until dawn to finish the book!