NOTE: Take notice that my process of reviewing has changed slightly. I will do the main body of the review in almost the same fashion, save for the fact I have changed my star count from 5 stars to 10 (I feel it gave me the opportunity to be more fair) and that at the end of each review, after the trivia portion, I will included a spoiler warning and make a few remarks based on spoiler-laden observations. These are for readers who have read the books and also allow me to be more in-depth and make comments that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to make. I will notate the ending of “the spoiler zone” so you can safely scroll through them when going to make a comment.
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.
From the very beginning, Yancey sets the tone of a not-so-happy invasion. While I didn’t expect the book to be a joyous one, considering the hype around it and the upcoming movie, I also didn’t expect it to begin the way it did. Starting months after the Arrival of other-worldly invaders, The 5th Wave begins in medias res (Latin for “in the middle of the action”), with Cassie (short for Cassiopeia) separated from her family and taking shelter in the woods. I felt that this beginning was appropriate and gave no illusion of the novel’s purpose. I was also glad because I knew I wouldn’t have to wait for the invasion to start.
Right from the start I knew that I liked Cassie as a character, especially as the main heroine of the novel. Aside from having an appealing and symbolic name, she was interesting to read: she was frank, honest, and reacted to the deadly invasion quite realistically. She made many mistakes, as we know all good characters should, but she cannot be faulted for those. Though she has to be strong for her brother and for the sake of survival, she is still human which is a major proponent of the novel. Besides, any character that carries around books during an alien invasion is my kind of character.
Yancey provided readers with several other likable characters: Evan Walker, the mysterious boy that saves Cassie’s life, and Oliver, Cassie’s father, a smart, optimistic, and observational character (one who hoarded books for the sake of rebuilding humanity — seriously, who doesn’t love that?). There are several other characters that I enjoyed very much but as their existence is a bit of a spoiler, I’ll keep that to myself. All in all, I feel that Yancey delivered many well-developed and emotionally engaging characters that made The 5th Wave a compelling and consuming read. I really enjoyed watching the story progress through the eyes of a number of different characters: it gave a fresh take on a number of events.
“Sometimes in my tent, late at night, I think I can hear the stars scraping against the sky.” – Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave
While it isn’t always the case, I felt the trade-off between present and past as well as fast-paced action sequences and the slower-paced expository passages was warranted and well-executed. Having begun the book in the middle of the story, it would have been hard to really be engaged without having some backstory and explanatory chapters mixed in with the action. More than that, however, is the fact that the two represented the duality of war and humanity.
The 5th Wave is thrilling and gripping from the moment you begin reading. It certainly kept me on my toes as I tried, like Cassie, to decipher who was human and who was alien. I often had to put the book down to consider what I would do in the situation at hand. The last hundred pages in particular were fantastic and I sped through them to reach an ending that was the perfect mixture of action, drama, and humanity. It is both believable and gratifying – to me at least. I felt like the novel ended just the way it should have, no matter the implications.
The 5th Wave has been adapted into a movie that will be released on the 22nd of this month. It stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Nick Robinson, Alex Roe, and Liev Schreiber.
The Last Star, the third and final book in The 5th Wave trilogy, will be released on May 24th, 2016.
WARNING: You are now entering the “Spoiler Zone”
While I really like that Yancey brought Ben Parrish, Cassie’s school crush, into the mix, I did have a moment of despair, wondering if this would be yet another YA novel with the dreaded love triangle. Oddly enough, I was very pleased with Cassie’s growing and convoluted relationship with Evan, but the moment I realized they would all eventually meet up, I was a little put off, however I trucked on and found, with relief, that it didn’t seem to be the case. I don’t know much about Ringer, but I’m glad she was around to put a stop to that, if only temporarily. I’m seriously interested to see how that plays out. To be honest, the fact that I felt such dread over a love triangle and the fact that it is still a possibility, however minute, is the only reason this book didn’t receive a full ten stars.
You are now leaving the “Spoiler Zone.”