The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Young Adult | Science-Fiction
Published by G.P Putnam’s Sons
Released May 7, 2013
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The 5th Wave is a young adult science fiction novel about an extraterrestrial invasion of earth. The invasion begins with an EMP attack which takes out all of Earth’s electricity. The second wave is the triggering of a massive tsunami that destroys most of the planet’s coastlines. The third is a plague, wiping out most of the remaining population. Then we come to the fourth plague, where the story begins. During the fourth wave, the aliens walk among us, indistinguishable from real people.
The story follows Cassie as she tries to survive on her own in this horrific world. She is on her way to save her little brother and avoids anyone else she sees along the way, not knowing who she can trust. Everything goes smoothly until she encounters Evan Walker, a farm boy who rescues her and takes her back to his farmhouse.
This novel is one about trust, survival, and family, even in the face of terrible odds.
I had a hard time rating this book because I felt so conflicted about many parts of it.
Let’s begin with the positives. I really enjoyed the plot of this book, and the concept of earth being invaded in these “waves” rather than the traditional warfare we’ve come to expect from alien invasion novels. It is a truly unique story, and it is that originality that initially attracted me to this novel.
Cassie was an amazing main character, and Rick Yancey wrote her in such a way that it’s hard not to love her. She’s strong and vulnerable at the same time, and completely believable as a teenager. So many young adult books make their characters seem far too adult, but this was absolutely not the case with The 5th Wave. Yancey’s representation of all of his characters was believable and wonderfully done.
In terms of the surprises in The 5th Wave, I was able to predict very early on what the “twist” of the novel was going to be. However, despite that, the moment in the war zone when Zombie and Ringer, two of the teenage soldiers, are discussing that twist was incredibly well-written.
Now on to the negatives. This book is told in a multi-narrative format, which I usually adore. There are three narrators throughout the story, although Cassie is the main one. With the changing narration, Cassie was really the only narrator I enjoyed. I listened to the audiobook version of this novel on Scribd, and the performance by Phoebe Strole was absolutely perfect and convincing. She brought Cassie’s character fully to life, and her narration was full of believable emotion. The narration from the perspective of “The Silencer,” one of the alien soldiers, and Zombie, a human soldier are mildly interesting but don’t carry the same quality and excitement as Cassie’s.
I could not stand the character of Evan Walker. His character seemed predatory and creepy, and I had a bad feeling about him from the start. In the novel, he’ll frequently stand outside Cassie’s bedroom door, which I found incredibly sketchy. As Cassie came to have feelings for him, I wanted to shake her out of it and scream at her not to trust him. Cassie’s romance with him was cringy and I kept finding myself wishing that she would just shoot him and put him out of the story.
Something I’ve seen in other reviews of The 5th Wave but that I did not experience for myself since I listened to the audiobook was that, in the written format of the novel, you’re not told ahead of time whose perspective you’re reading. It makes me glad that I did listen to the audiobook rather than read the physical book because I have a strong feeling that my rating would be quite a bit lower with the added confusion of trying to figure out who’s narrating the chapter.
While I enjoyed listening to the audiobook of this novel, I was never invested enough in the story to say I loved it. I won’t be reading the rest of the series, as I genuinely don’t care what happens next. However, since this first book was entertaining, I’m still rating it three stars. I feel like a lot of people would really enjoy this book, especially if you’re looking for a science fiction novel in the young adult category. It’s also a very unique take on the alien invasion trope.