Saturday, May 25, 2013

REVIEW: THE 5th WAVE (The 5th Wave, #1) by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave
Series: The 5th Wave, #1
Author: Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Genres: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopian
Reviewed by: Books4Tomorrow
My star rating: 4/5


The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author 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.


The 1st wave knocked us back to the eighteenth century. The next two slammed us into the Neolithic.

I’ve read so many dystopian novels this year; I’ve decided to take a break from this genre for a while. The last nail in this coffin for me was Veronica Roth’s Divergent. In all of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian novels I’ve read the past eighteen months, the world pretty much ends the same way, and as much as I’ve enjoyed most of these books, I was looking for something new. I’ve only seen rave reviews for Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave and though it’s also a dystopian novel, it sounded different from the usual. I wasn’t disappointed. The world in this post-apocalyptic work of art ended way differently from other end-of-the-world novels and there’s not one zombie or wayward rebel group (not counting the aliens) in sight.

Layer upon layer, discovery after discovery; this book is a treasure trove of surprises. Who would imagine that while the planet is under attack, Disney World is setting new attendance records? Personally, I think the third wave was the most severe. Using birds to wipe out about four billion people in three months? Brilliant! Aliens: 1, Humans: 0. But the underlying theme which drives this compelling novel is clear: if you take humanity down, make sure humanity stays down, because if and when we get back up, we’re coming for you – and it ain’t gonna be pretty, my friend.

Two hundred pages into the story, I still had no clue what type of extra terrestrials we were dealing with and why they’re attacking our planet, but I was as afraid of them as the characters were. The author built up and prolonged the suspense magnificently. I had many theories and suspicions the closer I got to the ending, but they were systematically blown out of the water one unpredictable plot twist at a time. I understand now why this book has received so much hype and enthusiastic reviews. It has all the bells and whistles, with heartbreaking scenes strewn liberally throughout. When they took Cassie’s little brother, Sammie, and Cassie’s dad made him get on that school bus with the rest of the kids collected by the military, I nearly bawled my eyes out. It was so darn heart-wrenching.

Yancey creates a believable dystopian world with ultra realistic characters and a storyline loaded with chilling scenes that could make you view alien life forms in an entirely new way. What I didn’t like about the story, but which didn’t necessarily dampen my enjoyment of it, is that the reader is expected to fill in a lot of the blanks. That in itself is not a bad thing, but to me it was like building a puzzle with a couple of pieces missing, which means I couldn’t complete the whole picture; and because the story is told from multiple points of view, I constantly felt I was missing something. The explanation for the aliens was quite interesting and most certainly unique, but somehow I’m still not getting the bigger picture. If I did, I wouldn’t have hesitated to give this sci-fi masterpiece a solid five-star rating, but I finished it with many questions left unanswered.

Oh, and uh, Rick Yancey is no stranger to sappy romance, just so you know. He writes it well, and I guess for our protagonists to be able to get one up on the alien scumbags, the romance is a necessary device for this plot. But “yummy brown eyes”? Puh-lease. I ploughed through the mushy parts and am proud to say I refrained from rolling my eyes.

Drones falling from the sky, explosions tearing up the ground, buildings collapsing, guns blazing, running from those who might be friend or foe…the last few chapters leading up to, and including the adrenaline-fuelling finale, has more than enough action in it to put any Bruce Willis movie to shame. These are only a few of the elements I expect from an extraordinary, magnificently well-written sci-fi novel, and Yancey delivers it with flair. And don’t forget Bear. Sammie’s bear. He’s also an essential part of the story: instrumental in providing comfort when and where comfort is needed while running and hiding from the enemy. I have no doubt in my mind that this book would make an award-winning blockbuster movie. For fans of dystopian novels with snarky humor and a tightly packed plot; and those who like to read about extra terrestrials not even remotely related to the cuteness of Spielberg’s E.T., I highly recommend The 5th Wave.

(from The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey)

It’s hard to plan for what comes next when what comes next is not something you planned for.

It isn’t about destroying our capability to fight so much as crushing our will to fight.

The strong ones-and only the strong ones-will survive.

Cruelty isn’t a personality trait. Cruelty is a habit.


My theme-song choice for The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey is Get Out Alive by Three Days Grace.


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey has 787 reviews on Goodreads. Read it here.



Rick is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.

Since then he has launched two critically acclaimed series: The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, for young readers, and The Highly Effective Detective, for adults. Both books are set in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Rick lived for ten years before returning to Florida. 


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