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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave (2013)

by Rick Yancey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Fifth Wave (1)

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English (292)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (295)
Showing 1-5 of 292 (next | show all)
This is one of those books that I’m kicking myself for not reading sooner. Seriously. This is one of the most captivating books I’ve read in a long time. I’d even go so far as to say it’s one of the best books I’ve read ever. Definitely top 10.

I’m so excited to write this review, so let’s get to it, people!

WARNING: spoilers ahead!

Despite this book’s similarities to The Host, I really liked it. The writing style was interesting and very easy to read. It’s disjointed in some areas, and I really like that. I can really see this book being written by a bunch of teenagers which, in this context, is a very good thing.

It’s very obvious that Yancey really thought this through and pieced together the Waves very carefully. It was very cohesive and makes perfect sense. In chapter 10, really showcases this. There’s a fantastic quote from Cassie in this chapter: “Time was flowing in reverse. The 1st Wave knocked us back to eighteenth century. The next two slammed us into the Neolithic.”

Going off that quote, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate Yancey’s astute observations of human behavior. The reaction everyone has to the 1st Wave (freaking out because the electricity has gone out, trying desperately to get their phones and cars working again, assuming the electricity will come back on because it always does), Cassie still brushing her teeth and doing laundry despite being completely isolated in the first part of the book, people constantly waiting for the “People in Charge” to come and save the day (because humans are an inherently hierarchical species and naturally need a leader), and many more examples. I had to look up whether Yancey was a psychologist or anthropologist because his grasp of human behavior is that good.

The characters were really well-written. I like that Cassie was strong and independent even in the face of all the shit she’s gone through. Ben was the same way. He made a point not to make the mistake of running again after what happened with his sister. Finding Sammy is what drove Cassie, and Ben’s sister’s death is what drove him. In the end, they both rescue Sammy and that fulfills Cassie’s wish (obviously) but also Ben’s because he’s now saved someone when he couldn’t save his sister.

Evan was an interesting character, and I wish we got more than just one part in his POV. I like that Yancey used the third person past tense perspective for Evan but the first person present tense perspective for everyone else. When Evan explains who/what he is to Cassie, that choice of perspective makes a lot of sense. He’s not really Evan Walker. He’s an Other living inside Evan Walker. I also wonder what it’s like for Evan and the Other to live in the same body. Is it like Wanderer and Melanie in the Host? Is it really like Evan said where they’re as one, where it’s impossible to tell where one stops and the other begins? I really wish we learned more about him and got a little more inside his head in this book.

The message of this book is amazing. Humanity is much more fragile than we think. These days, humanity thinks we’re above nature and that we’re the masters of the universe. The Others show otherwise. With 4 attacks, the Others managed to cripple humanity and kill billions. By the start of the 5th wave, humans are turning on each other because they’re so paranoid. Who can they trust? Who should they trust? Is the person in front of you really a person or an Other?

What really matters once everything you know is stripped away? Ben is thinking about this in Chapter 56 and says, “By killing us, they showed us the idiocy of stuff. The guy who owned this BMW? He’s in the same place as the woman who owned that Kia.” In addition to putting our mortality into perspective, Yancey calls to attention how things are determined as valuable. Things only have value because we give them value. Nothing but life itself is inherently valuable, and the people living in the 4th and 5th Wave know that.

The concept of “going Dorothy” was a really good one, and a quote from Ben puts it perfectly: “It is hopeless. It is crazy. Tank is the sane one because he sees it clearly.” The Others have set up a society in which people are so brainwashed that people who are sane and see through the lies (like Tank) are deemed crazy and quickly disposed of. After all, the Others would have a harder time dealing with the human race if nobody believed their lies. Instead, they brainwash and indoctrinate enough people that the sane ones are on the outside. They’re laughed at and dismissed as “crazy.”

I guessed a few of the plot twists, but I think that’s just because I was taking extensive notes. If I hadn’t been taking notes, I think I would have missed them. One thing I guessed from the beginning was that the military wasn’t run by humans anymore. Every time the military personnel talked about the Others, they left their statements intentionally ambiguous. When they talked about infested human beings, they meant literal human beings being the infestation of the planet. When they talked about mapping an alien consciousness, they meant mapping the human brain. When they talked about understanding how the enemy thinks, they meant understanding how humans think.

I would be lying if I didn’t have the urge to buy a comprehensive wilderness survival guide after this book. The concept of this book (alien invaders attempting to wipe out humanity) seems like a far-fetched one… but is it really? It would be a lot easier than we think for something like this to happen even if it’s not the result of alien attacks. If you ever need a reminder that you’re human or an ego check, read this book.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the next two! ( )
  Danielle_Shema | Apr 10, 2019 |
I loved the way this book started, but I had to force myself to finish it. Too much googly-eyed teenager romance (which I guess is what you should expect from a YA novel). I was sorely tempted to just Wikipedia the book and find out the ending so I didn't have to finish. ( )
  melissa_faith | Mar 16, 2019 |
I was excited about this book after I read the preview. The post-apocalyptic alien thing sounded promising, and the writing seemed sharp with a dash of wit.

But the book unravelled from there. The logic of the plot wasn't entirely sound, there was some shallow insta-love thrown in, the writing started to get sloppy and the sheer amount of coincidence in the finale was unbelievable. It used multiple viewpoints, switching between characters, which was annoying- it revealed mysteries that were beautifully set up at the beginning in a totally anticlimatic way. I really would have preferred to stick with Cassie's viewpoint the whole way, and get maximum impact. The focal point of the book, the driving motivation, was the whole "finding my little brother in enemy territory" thing that felt incredibly cliche. It's a cliche because it can be really powerful when it works, but I just wasn't feeling it in this story. There were even some plot points mentioned in the first few pages that were totally contradicted down the line. Basically, it was messy. Which was frustrating because I could see where tighter logic, better characterisation and more disciplined writing could have turned this into a pretty good book. I hope the upcoming movie can deliver on that score. Won't be picking up the sequel. ( )
  Sweet_Serenity | Mar 14, 2019 |
The slew of post-apocalyptic media out there makes me realize how screwed I'd be in the event of an actual apocalypse. I have no survival skills and I'm not familiar with any weaponry. Anyway, I picked up The 5th Wave based on reviews that said it didn't suck, in fact was quite good, and it had a badass teenage heroine à la Katniss. Were these reviews right? Well, yes and no.

Aliens have finally come to Earth, but instead of bringing gifts, they set off a deadly series of events. Here's a wave-by-wave program to take out the human race:

The 1st Wave: Shut down the technology.
The 2nd Wave: Cause tsunamis that wipe out densely populated coastal areas.
The 3rd Wave: Release a disease that is fatal to most of the remaining humans.
The 4th Wave: Use snipers to hunt down any survivors.

In a matter of months, Cassie Sullivan lost both her parents and saw her little brother get taken away. Some people might have just lost it, but for Cassie, that's not an option. She swore to Sam that she'd find him again, so she has to stay alive at all costs. After everything she's witnessed, her number one rule is trust no one.

I have mixed feelings about Cassie. On one hand, I really like her narrative voice. Sure she's scared, but she's also determined to survive, and she has this grim sense of humor about her situation. On the other hand, she's kind of passive and only starts kicking ass towards the end of the book. (There are some awesome action scenes here, by the way.) I was more than willing to forgive Cassie for weird behavior because 1, she's still a kid and 2, she wasn't prepared for this. (Like I said, I'd be fucking dead in her position, so I can't judge.) But then her character fell a few notches for me when some annoying YA tropes raised their heads.

Warning, the next paragraph is pretty spoilery. I've hidden the really big one.

During the first act, Cassie’s unease is depicted so well that it’s contagious. Then we go into the tension-killer that is the second act. After she gets shot in the leg, Cassie is found and nursed back to health by dreamy Evan Walker. To say the least, it’s a drastic shift in tone. Now she's in a cozy farmhouse with a super-hot guy who's happy to wash her hair and feed her freshly baked bread. (That weird noise you hear is the sound of my eyes rolling.) Some of the revelations about Evan concerned me. Turns out he is a Silencer, and killing Cassie was one of his assignments. He shot her in the leg because he couldn't bear to shoot her in the head. Is a guy watching you, following you, and dear God, attacking you just par for the course these days? Then there's the not-so-subtle buildup to a love triangle. It's a-comin'. Lord have mercy.

So, what did I like? There are multiple narrations, which I wasn't expecting but are really well done. Another survivor, Zombie, is being trained as a soldier alongside children, and his story alternates with Cassie's. Like Suzanne Collins, Rick Yancey had the knack of creating many characters that I actually got attached to, and when some of them died - yes, died - I was genuinely moved. The end of the book is packed with awesome action scenes. But what really gripped me was the suspense. The aliens aren't just able to look and act human, they also know how humans think and react. Who can you trust in a world like that? That was enough to get me past the YA cliches and fails in logic. Hopefully some of the remaining questions will be answered in The Infinite Sea.

Three and a half stars. ( )
  doryfish | Mar 6, 2019 |
RGG: Exciting, intense sci-fi read. With hints of Twilight -- inter-species romance, and Ender's Game -- children trained as soldiers, the many initially unanswered questions border on being frustrating but the plot unpeels enough to keep the reader engaged. Graphic violence and teenage romance (although no actual sex) makes this a YA title. Reading Age: YA.
  rgruberexcel | Feb 20, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rick Yanceyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bauer, ThomasÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Selkälä, UllaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didnʼt turn out very well for the Native Americans. —Stephen Hawking
For Sandy, whose dreams inspire and whose love endures
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There will be no awakening.
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"Cassie Sullivan, the survivor of an alien invasion, must rescue her young brother from the enemy with help from a boy who may be one of them"--

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