Study Guide

The Wave Genre

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Horror; Psychological Thriller and Suspense

Discussions of genre are for you – so that if you find a book you like, you can look for other books that fit into that category. The Wave fits into a one very special category: the novelization. That means it's a novel based on a movie.

Many, many novels featured in Shmoop have been made into movies, but we challenge you to find another novel that was a movie first. Not so easy, right? That's because novelizations aren't usually taught in classrooms. But there are a ton of them out there that provide hours of guilty reading pleasure. We talk more about novelizations in "Writing Style," in case you're curious.

Now let's talk about The Wave's three main genres: horror, psychological thriller, and realism.

The Horror of History

Anything having to do with the Holocaust already has elements of extreme horror – probably worse than the worst horror movie you'll ever see. The Wave includes that kind of horror: descriptions of death, violence, and extremely scary people doing hideous things to the bodies and minds of other people.

But this horror is in the past; it's not actually happening in the story. Still, we read this horror in many places in The Wave: descriptions of the documentary that Ben Ross shows his history class, quoted excerpts from his classroom lectures, and well, Ben's thoughts. Like this one:

Ben thought of telling the students that the smoke rising from the chimneys above the buildings was from burning human flesh. But he didn't. The experience of watching this film would be awful enough. (2.6)

To Join or Not to Join, That is the Question…

Psychological thrillers delve pretty deeply into the minds of the characters. We definitely get this from The Wave, but the narratornever tells us what's going on inside the brain of its darkest character, Robert. Leaving his mind mysterious lets readers speculate about his psychology and what leads him to go so far off the deep end.

But more than just the characters in the book, we as readers are forced to look deeply into our own minds. Reading about how the various characters act when faced with The Wave makes us wonder – how would we act in such a situation? Could we fall into the same trap as the students who join The Wave? Psychologically thrilling, indeed.

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