The 5th Wave: A Book Review

Posted May 28, 2015 by Carlisa in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

The 5th Wave: A Book ReviewThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The Fifth Wave #1
Published by Penguin on May 7, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, YA
Pages: 460
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The Passage meets The Hunger Games in a gripping new series from Carnegie-shortlisted 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. 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, until Cassie meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan may be her only hope for rescuing her brother and even saving herself. Now she must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up. Cassie Sullivan gets up.

THIS BOOK. This book was awesome. It’s interesting because like two weeks before I read it, I had one close friend tell me how much she loves it and another text me and tell me she didn’t really like it. So I went in not knowing how I would feel about it. But by the end I was feeling good. So here we go.

The premise is that aliens have arrived on earth. This huge ship showed up in the atmosphere and then nothing happened a while. Humans freaked out. They packed up and left or they boarded up their homes and waited. And then the first wave hit. Followed by four more waves. And each “wave” was a different tactic that the aliens used to kill the humans. Like the first wave was sending out this giant electromagnetic wave that shut down all things running on power. No more cars. No more electricity. The world was dark. And I’m not going to tell you what the other waves were, but the book opens in the time of the 5th wave, as the title will tell you. And we follow this wave as the last humans struggle to stay alive.

The first thing I liked was that it kind of throws you in to the story and the world without fully explaining everything right away. It doesn’t explain all these waves from the start. You learn what’s happened to the world bit by bit, whether by how the character is acting or their thoughts…you’ll figure it out. And that’s how the real world works, isn’t it? No one ever takes the time to sit there and think about every little thing that has happened even though they know everything by heart. Exposition isn’t always super realistic, although it’s necessary. But here the exposition felt realer because we weren’t told directly in the first chapter.

Each part in the book is told from a different perspective and I think this can be such a useful tool for authors…but I also think it’s a very difficult thing to pull off well (*cough Allegiant cough*). Different perspectives need to have very individual and unique voices for it to work. We as readers need to be able to know and recognize who is speaking if there are different points of view. In this book, I think it worked beautifully. Yancey doesn’t even identify who is speaking at the beginning of each part so it was up to the reader to know and understand the voice of each person. And it worked. For the characters and for the entire plot. We as readers were able to see the world and the characters in a more complete light because of these split perspectives. 

Something I noted about this though is that it was sometimes almost jarring to switch between perspectives because you’re switching between these super intense scenes that are very different from each other. You have to adjust quickly to the moment you’re in (aka the moment you’re reading) from the moment you were in before. It was jarring…but I also noted that I liked it. I think this disorientation worked because it gives the reader a feel as to how the characters are actually feeling. They’re in an alien takeover. They’re adjusting too. They don’t know what’s going to happen within the next day, hour, perhaps minute. Everything is different and they don’t know what to expect. And this quick change of perspectives gives the reader some of those same feelings (albeit to a much smaller degree).

AND the beautiful thing about this book was that there was romance…but it’s not the main point of the book. YA books tend to focus a lot on the romance and though sometimes, it is realistic…most of the time, it’s not. Sure as a teenager, it’s easy to focus on romance and the boy you like, blah blah blah…but if there’s these huge things going on around you, that’s not going to be your main focus. Like, just for an example, if you have aliens taking over your world, that boy you’re digging is not going to be your main focus. Instead, the book focuses more on Cassie’s relationship with her younger brother, which is a really great thing to focus on.

AND AND AND I feared for myself before reading this book because I’m not always super into the science fiction and the aliens. And I’m sure this is a hesitation for many people. But this book was so good. Aliens and science fiction and all.

The one thing I had a hard time with was Yancey’s frequent use of parallelism and chiasmus throughout the book. I wrote on my GR status: “He uses so much parallelism and chiasmus in his writing…and sure it sounds awesome, but I can’t figure out if I like it or not. I don’t think people think like that all the time.” And it’s true. Thinking about it, this is probably one of my biggest bookish pet peeves. It was the downfall of We Were Liars (which many, many people love) and other books. This forced lyricality. So in the beginning, I was like “whoa, whoa, whoa. No one actually thinks like this.” But then, I got over it. Because the story is awesome. The story is enticing and enveloping and just…awesome. And these thoughts of forced parallelism and lyricality fell to the wayside because the writing is beautiful. And as I got to know the characters better, it didn’t seem forced. Just beautiful and natural and now I love it.

5th Wave Quote Notable Quotes:

“I feel myself falling into a completely different kind of wonderland, where up is down and true is false and the enemy has two faces, my face and his, the one who saved me from drowning, who took my heart and made it a battlefield.”

“Is it okay now? Can he believe? If the world breaks a million and one promises, can you trust the million and second?”

“While I hold my brother in my lap to keep him warm. On the rise of ground that overlooks the abandoned highway. Beneath a sky crowded with a billion stars. I don’t care what the stars say about how small we are. One, even the smallest, weakest, most insignificant one, matters.”

“When the moment comes to stop running from your past, to turn around and face the thing you thought you could not face–the moment when your life teeters between giving up and getting up–when that moment comes, and it always comes, if you can’t get up and you can’t give up, either, here’s what you do:

SO. Read this book. If my bold and underlined statement doesn’t convince you…know that the movie is coming out next January! Ah. I’m literally so excited. So, read the book. And then go see the movie with me in January. And love it.

I was talking to my friend about how I pushed this book on my mom (who’s now reading it) and I called it the Sixth Wave of Book Pushing. And now I’m pushing it on you. So go read.


  • Nancy Kay Cramer

    Loving this book!! The storyline grabs you from the beginning!!

    • Glad you love it too 🙂