Book Review: The 5th Wave By Rick Yancey

Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 7th May 2013
Goodreads Summary: 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.

{ Review }

There was a lot of hype about The 5th Wave so I was both nervous and excited to read it. A hyped up book is always dangerous because it almost certainly won’t live up to your expectations and unfortunately The 5th Wave kinda fell into that category for me. It’s not that it wasn’t good, in fact, it was great, it’s just that it was as good as I expected it to be given all the hype.
The 5th Wave is written from several different perspectives but it’s essentially about different people’s experiences during an ongoing alien invasion. There are around four main characters, Cassie, Evan, Sam and Ben, around whom most of the action revolves but there are also many other characters who slot into this story. The human race has been wittled down to a very small number following four ‘waves’ as part of the alien invasion, the first wave cut all electricity, the second brought a worldwide tsunami, the third involved a deadly disease and the fourth turned the humans on each other. Few humans remain, noone knows just how many, and noone knows who is alien and who is human. Cassie and Sam are brother and sister but they get separated when soldiers come to the refugee camp they are staying at with their father. The soldiers take away all the children under the age of 15 and kill everyone else, excluding Cassie, but including her father. Cassie is now on her own and hits the road, trying to stay alive and hoping that she can find her way to her brother. Cassie meets Evan on her lonely travels though she’s not sure if she can really trust him, but she doesn’t have much of a choice. Meanwhile, Ben has been taken to the military camp along with all the other children, Sam included. Here, they are trained to be brutal and merciless soldiers – but what for? Something isn’t right as each character soon discovers.

The 5th Wave has such an intriguing and mysterious plot that I just had to keep reading. As all the characters are shrouded in mist when it comes to knowing what the aliens want and what their plans are, so are we, as readers, and this brings you closer to the characters and draws you further into their world. I was slightly surprised to find that this book wasn’t completely centered around Cassie and Evan as the book synopsis would suggest as the other characters all play very large and important roles too. Ordinarily, I avoid ‘alien’ books, because they tend to be rather ridiculous, but this one was exciting and full of surprises. Just when I thought I’d got everything susses, something new would be discovered that would change everything. This book has so many twists and turns and it is impossible to know how this book will end.

All the different perspectives collide together at the end of the novel, but sometimes the relationships between the characters were a little perplexing. I can’t exactly call it insta-love between Evan and Cassie because it wasn’t love, but it was insta. The dynamic of their relationship was highly confusing but at the end of the novel you discover the reason for this obscurity. The relationships between the characters gets all the more confusing at the end of the novel when they all come together as some things that I was pretty sure about, turned out to be wrong and some unexpected things happened. I wouldn’t really class this as a negative aspect of the book, merely a surprising one, and I’m glad that this book kept me on my toes.

I liked that all the characters in this book seemed very real. Suffice to say that people would not act rationally during an alien invasion and I was glad to see that the characters were experiencing ‘human’ emotions and that they weren’t at all perfect. There is nothing more annoying than reading a book about perfectly good or bad people as they don’t really exist in this world and I liked that these characters were flawed as it makes them easier to relate to.

Although this is a young adult book, I would think that this book would appeal to all fans of sci-fi books and the like. Although the characters are young, they are forced to grow up quite quickly and the situations that they are in are most certainly not situations that you would expect children of their age to be in. This book was similar to The Host by Stephanie Meyer in many ways so it would probably appeal to fans of that too.

In my opinion, the thing that let this book down was the change in narrative voice. These changes were largely unexplained and I found them highly confusing and spent the first few pages of each section trying to figure out who was talking  and at what point in the story we were at. Even without one person’s narrative, it tended to jump around a lot between the past and the present and sometimes it was a little hard to keep up. This was probably the only thing about the book as in all other respects it was excellent but a clearly structure was needed to guide the reader through.

Now I know I started this review rather negatively, but believe me, The 5th Wave is a really great book. The characters are well developed and interesting and the plot is so mysterious. I don’t really understand why this book was hyped up any more than another YA book, but nevertheless, it is a really great read and I would highly recommend it.

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