The 5th Wave | book review

The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey
Series: The 5th Wave
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: May 2013
Genre(s): Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Young adult

Opening Line:

There will be no awakening.

So it’s a new year, which means new books and new film adaptations of books. The 5th Wave has been on my radar for a year or so now, but I’d never gotten around to actually picking it up, even when I would stumble across it at a bookstore. If you check out my post about 2016’s book-to-film adaptations, you’ll see The 5th Wave is on there (but I’m sure most of you already knew about it). Obviously, since it comes out in 2 weeks, I figured now would be the best time to start reading it and hopefully finish it in time. Well, I finished it in time, indeed. In fact, I finished it in less than a day. I am now anxiously awaiting January 22.

The Synopsis

The first wave sends our world into darkness. The second wave drowns those of us near the coasts. The third wave dispatches us in a bloody, miserable heap. The fourth wave teaches anyone left alive to trust no one. What will the fifth wave bring? What could possibly be worse than the previous waves? Cassie is on the run. She is alone and scared, but she is alive. The only thing keeping her alive is the promise she made to her younger brother, though she’s not entirely sure how to keep that promise. With no one to trust and nowhere to go that’s safe, Cassie is at a loss. Not to mention the fact that someone, or something, is hunting her every step of  the way…

The Plot

A lot of people love this book and a lot of people hate it. A common criticism of the book is that it borrows too much from other sci-fi alien books, movies, and television series. Lucky for me, I’m not very well-versed in alien culture. I’m a big fan of the Alien series, the Predator series and of course the Alien vs. Predator series, but other than that, I haven’t read/watched much on aliens. Does The Thing count? What about Super 8? Battle: Los Angeles? Right, so like I said, pretty clueless, meaning that anything that seemed “borrowed” in other peoples’ minds was okay with me. In my opinion, there’s not much more you can do with aliens than has already been done, anyway. Who was it that said we’re all just re-telling the same stories, only in slightly different ways? My point is, I wasn’t critically analyzing or tearing down The 5th Wave‘s plot — I was simply enjoying it. Sure, there were parts where I knew what a character was going to say, and there were “plot twists” that weren’t really twists because I figured it out 50 pages ago, but I still enjoyed reading it nonetheless. You can say it’s predictable if you want, and maybe it is a little too predictable, but it still maintained a good amount of suspense and thrill. And, okay, yes, there were times when I thought the novel strayed much too closely into Hunger Games and Divergent territory, but that’s okay, too. It’s told from multiple perspectives throughout the book, which gets a little confusing sometimes because Yancey doesn’t just outright say “Okay this part is told in Cassie’s POV” or “Hey, just so you know, now we’re in Nugget’s head.” You just kind of figure that out yourself, which definitely adds to the suspense sometimes. Though I would have preferred more chapters from Cassie, it was interesting to get more perspectives and it definitely rounded out the story much more.

The Characters

I saw the trailer for the film before picking up the book, so immediately I pictured Cassie in my head as Chloë Grace Moretz. Lucky for me, she’s the only character in the trailer I really picked up on, so everyone else was my own creation. I liked Cassie because she was a badass and somehow, being only 16, was able to survive so long during an alien invasion (though I guess it wasn’t technically an invasion, but you’ll read about that). I sympathized with her because she had to watch a lot of people die, and she had to make a lot of life-or-death decisions. I hated her because she had the typical mindset of a 16-year-old and sometimes she really frustrated me, but at the same time that made me happy because her character was so honest. Evan Walker was another character I loved, especially the way Cassie describes him:

“Who does this teenage version of the Brawny paper-towel guy think he’s kidding?”

I loved that. I died of laughter because she called him that and also because I was able to use it to imagine him. I knew who he was right away, even before Cassie started her speculation. I still loved him, though, especially how caring he was. I wanted Cassie to fall in love with him ASAP even though the whole insta-love thing is really ridiculous and unrealistic. I wanted her to fantasize about Evan instead of Ben Parish, who I kind of thought of as a douchebag. He’s not, I guess — I mean, he’s kind of cool, but I could never warm up to him the way I warmed up to Evan. I am prejudiced, I suppose, in favor of Evan Walker and those soft hands.

The Writing

For a contemporary YA novel, the writing was actually quite spectacular. The novel flowed at a steady pace, never too slow, even during the suspenseful parts. Yancey is really good at writing suspense. I had to constantly hold myself back from skimming because I was so eager to just get to the outcome. I hate when my brain does that — like, what the hell? I’m trying to read and you just want instant satisfaction. Not cool, brain, not cool. The dialogue was pretty believable, too, for the most part, which also helped the story flow. Yancey is a really good storyteller.

My Rating

4.5 star

Very glad I got the chance to read this before the film comes out. I bet you all can guess what I’m going to do as soon as I post this review… If you guessed “Alyssa is going to start reading the sequel to The 5th Wave,” then congratulations, you know me like you know a close friend. I’m sure you’ll be seeing my review for The Infinite Sea in the next couple days. Until then, happy blogging!

Favorite Quote(s): “Sometimes in my tent, late at night, I think I can hear the stars scraping against the sky.”

“I don’t know what to say. So I don’t say anything. Too many people say something when they really have nothing to say.”

“We’re here, and then we’re gone, and it’s not about the time we’re here, but what we do with the time.”

4 thoughts on “The 5th Wave | book review

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