The Fifth Wave by New York Times bestselling author Rich Yancey is a thrilling tale of humanity and invasion– but not in the way that we’ve seen before. The 5th Wave strays away from the typical alien invasion story. No more do we see giant bug-eyed creatures that have the same bipedal form that we do. Yancey instead gives us an unseen enemy that hides among humans, sleeping in bodies of people we know and love, waking when the 5th wave dawns.
But how do we handle it when we don’t know who to trust? What do we do when our adrenaline is pulsing and it’s life or death? Trust or don’t trust?
This is when we’re presented with one of the most dangerous problems we could have as humans: the loss of our humanity. This is the main theme of Yancey’s novel and a troubling one that brings an intensity and realism that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The story is told from multiple points of view: Cassie Sullivan, Sammy Sullivan, Evan Walker and Ben Parish. Each has a special side of the story that’s heart-wrenching and interesting. Cassie forms our outside view, Ben forms our inside view, Evan brings a special combination of both worlds, and Cassie’s brother Sammy brings the problem to us from the eyes of a small child.
There was one thing about this book that perhaps threw me off just a little. The romance that takes place between Cassie and Evan feels a tad underdeveloped for me. I needed to see more from their relationship than physical attraction. And maybe I got this vibe because of a pacing issue, I’m not sure. Something about the relationship made it feel weird for me to be happy about it until a little later in the book. I didn’t feel, though, that the romance overwhelmed the novel. It was important to the story. I just wish it felt more real.
One other thing I was misty on and it became slightly distracting was Evan’s background. It felt like there was a lot of detail and explanation that needed to be included that was not and it made it harder to love Evan. Of all the characters, Evan was the one that touched my heart the least. Mostly because it felt like his story didn’t quite make sense.
However, this problem didn’t distract me enough to make me dislike this book. I adored this book intensely. Yancey is fond of reusing phrases and words in different ways that have a profound impact.
“Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity.
And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.”
-Cassie, pg. 101
“I will make my final stand here, Benjamin Thomas Parish.
Slapping my chest over and over until my skin burns, my heart on fire.
And you will be my battlefield.”
-Ben, pg. 131
Rick Yancey made me care about all of these characters. His wording and imagery is enchanting and haunting at the same time, the environment resembling something like a zombie apocalypse– but the zombies are not people. The zombies are the replacing of trust and humanity with suspicion and fear. The 5th Wave has twists and turns I was never expecting and realism that made me worry about a possible alien invasion in the future!
“‘Do you know why we will win this war?’ Vosch asks us after we’re locked inside. ‘Why we cannot lose? Because we know how you think. We’ve been watching you for six thousand years. When the pyramids rose in the Egyptian desert, we were watching you. When Caesar burned the library at Alexandria, we were watching you. When you crucified that first-century Jewish peasant, we were watching. When Columbus set foot in the New World… when you fought a war to free millions of your fellow humans from bondage… when you learned how to split the atom… when you first ventured beyond your atmosphere… What were we doing?'”
If you love survivalist novels and aliens, this book is a spectacular read and I would get your hands on it ASAP.
There is a movie adaptation of the book that came out in January, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There’s so much left out and the plot twists are dumbed down to an extreme level. And perhaps this was because there was a lot of background to cover and they spent more time on that, so it subtracted from the second half of the book that stays present. It’s a good movie if you haven’t read the book (as always, haha!).