The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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.

The book was published in 2013 but it wasn’t until the movie popped up on my Foxtel premier list that I thought, “wait did I read that book?” I bought a movie release cover copy (BTW – I HATE MOVIE RELEASE COVERS!) and hid away in my room determined to read the book before I watched the movie.

My first question after reading the book was: Are we becoming a society of YA readers who are happy with the expected? Nothing in The 5th wave was exceptionally original. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the book. Rick Yancey is a talented wordsmith, but I felt like I was reading a mix of alien invasion tropes and the portrayal of a teen female lead that left a lot to be desired.

I get that original ideas are few and far between but isn’t the trick with using a base idea that is already out there is to put your own original spin on it that makes the reader forget that they have actually heard this or part of this story before, Yancey might have missed the mark with this.

My second question was: Why speed through the first 4 waves? The alien invasion in The 5th Wave happens too quickly with the majority of the human race taken out within the first 4 waves, I would have loved to see more of the devastation the waves caused, this could have been done by swapping their order around. The technology would need to remain active for the devastation to be widely publicised.

I guess that is the point that many people reviewing unfavourably are missing – but why I still enjoyed the book. This story is told from the points of view of two teens that have no real idea of what is happening all over the world. They know only what has directly affected them and what Government officials have told them. Yancey took away the option to know what the world was doing to fight back and many readers felt unsatisfied with the brush over the 4 waves, especially when most of them saw the 5th wave coming.

My third question and probably the one that took a whole star from my review score was: Has Yancey ever met a teenage girl? I was one, and I can tell you I was not impressed with his portrayal of Cassie in some parts of the book. One particular quote; “Time for the angrily-storming-out-of-the-room part of the argument, while the guy fold his arms over his manly chest and pouts.” The problem I have is not with the description of what Cassie is doing, I myself did exactly that, I stormed out rooms middle argument many times. My issue is with the second part, the guy standing there with his arms folded over his ‘manly’ chest. WTF?  This line made Yancey look like an author from 100 years ago that thought it was okay to portray females as tantrum throwers and men as the rational adult types who have to wait for the irrational woman to see sense.

If you, like me overlook the moments of question within the book and continue to read, you will come out the other side having enjoyed a well-crafted novel that sometimes successfully combines tropes to form an almost teen romance/alien story.

I can’t say I will be rushing out to read book 2, but I did enjoy the movie, so if the sequel comes out I will watch rather than read when it comes to this particular series.



Rebecca is a writer, mother, crafter and cake maker. With three children and a full time job, many of the characters bouncing around in her head will just have to wait to have their stories told. You can find her tweeting here.

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