Book Reviews

Review: “The 5th Wave,” Rick Yancey

June 8, 2016
Review: “The 5th Wave,” Rick YanceyThe 5th Waveby Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave #1
Published by Penguin on May, 2013
Genres: Aliens, Sci-Fi, Survival
Pages: 457
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Having seen The 5th Wave movie before reading the book, I have to say that although I was expecting all the twists and turns, the book was definitely more fleshed out and well-paced than the film. Still, props to the movie for making me actually want to read this series in the first place. I had pretty much set up my mind beforehand that The 5th Wave wasn’t going to be a series I was going to read anytime soon… but I’m glad to say I was wrong.

“But if I’m it, the last of my kind, the last page of human history, like hell I’m going to let the story end this way.”

The 5th Wave, although incredibly flawed at times, was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it kept me reading and was a pretty good attempt at a post-invasion alien sci-fi story.

To begin with, I really liked Cassie as a character. It took a little time for me to warm up to her, but I was thrilled that she caught on to things as the reader did, instead of being gullible or easily tricked. Unlike movie Cassie, book Cassie wasn’t happy with some of the things went down (such as Camp Ashpit with her father being convinced by the soldiers) and had an incredible amount of grit and guts. She started losing points with me, however, when she fell in love with Evan so quickly (although I did like that she still questioned him all the while making kissy faces with him).

“I had it all wrong,” he says. “Before I found you, I thought the only way to hold on was to find something to live for. It isn’t. To hold on, you have to find something you’re willing to die for.”

Evan? Egh. Where do I begin? He has the potential to be a really interesting character but unfortunately in The 5th Wave, he melted into a Gary Stu puddle. He says he was saved when he fell in love with Cassie? Well, hell, what about the girl he was supposedly in love with since childhood? Wouldn’t she have some sway over Evan’s alien/human balance? I don’t know if this girl was a cover story or what, but whatever the reason, I found this aspect of Evan’s backstory to be lacking. Not to mention the love he was meant to have for his siblings…

I actually really liked Ben AKA Zombie. He’s probably my favourite character. Although his POV chapters at Camp Haven were a little boring at times (I’ve never been one for the whole training sequences in this dystopian-ish novels) I really enjoyed him and to be honest I was hoping that he and Cassie would eventually be endgame relationship-wise. I liked that he managed to have a clear view of the guy he used to be pre-invasion, and the guy he had become post-invasion. He rose to the challenge and became who he needed to be.

I think Rick Yancey did a fantastic job fleshing out the secondary characters into people I actually cared about. Ringer was great, as were the rest of Zombie’s squad.

“We’d stared into the face of Death, and Death blinked first. You’d think that would make us feel brave and invincible. It didn’t.”

I wish that the ‘waves’ had been explained a bit more, as there were in the film. I think without watching it first, I wouldn’t have had such a clear recall of what actually went down before Cassie’s opening chapter. That being said, the book did a better job of giving us an insight into the aliens themselves (and what they were) and wasn’t as cheesy overall.

I still fail to see what the alien’s point is in turning humanity against each other. Surely there’d be an easier way to wipe out all that remain? But eh, I’m willing to roll with it and see where this series takes me. While I don’t expect The 5th Wave to deliver anything particularly unique in the way of alien/sci-fi, I have hopes that it will still be an entertaining read.

About Rick Yancey

Rick Yancey is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.


  • Reply Rebecca June 9, 2016 at 1:12 am

    You know what? I did. I saw the movie and I have not even read the book. I rarely do that and I feel so guilty about it, especially because the movie was a huge disappointment for me. I expected to be WOWed because everyone loved the book so much. I figured the movie should be pretty good. Serves me right. I should have read it first….
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
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    • Reply Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books June 15, 2016 at 4:35 am

      That was me, too. I hadn’t heard much about the book but went and saw the movie and thought it was alright! So ultimately it made me pick up the book, which elaborated on a few things better, but the action scenes were much better done in the film!
      Brittany @ Nice Girls Read Books recently posted…Review: “The Last Star,” Rick YanceyMy Profile

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