Friday, May 24, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The thing about reviewing a book that everyone has already read - or at least seen a review of - is there isn't much I can say that will be new. Thankfully, that usually make me feel like I have more freedom in what I write. The first half of this post will be safe for everyone to read. The second part is where I want to say something specific about the end of the book that is only for people who have read it. I will tell you when we get to the spoiler part.

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey
Read: May 14 - 17, 2013
Published: May 7, 2013 by Putnam Juvenile
Source: Library
Category: Post-Apocalyptic, Aliens, YA

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. (From Goodreads)

Note: I haven't read The Passage or Ender's Game (I know! Bad me.), so I would personally call this book The Host meets Chaos Walking. 

The 5th Wave freaked me out. Big time. If I were going to stage an alien invasion, I couldn't manage it better than this one. Actually, this is much better than anything I could come up with. I'm just going to use it as my future invasion guidebook. The scariest thing is that I've seen elements of this strategy in play during some of the darkest times in human history, which only made it feel more real. Possible. But within all the action and alien created chaos, is a very thoughtful exploration of what it means to be human. Is it possible to erase our humanity? Or are the darkest moments when we prove ourselves the most? 

You know that creeping feeling of dread when you realize that something isn't right, but you can't figure out what it is? And you keep forging ahead anyway, even though you know something Very Bad is about to happen? I felt that way the entire time I was reading The 5th Wave. Although there are a few elements of the story that I figured out, they just made me more excited and nervous about what was coming next. 

The 5th Wave is recounted through four voices, Cassie, Zombie, Silencer and Nugget, and I think this book is bigger and richer because of its different perspectives. I also loved the moments when their stories converged, and fireworks happened. Cassie's voice is first and also my favorite. I found her to be relatable and and amusing even while the world was falling apart around her. Zombie gave us valuable information, but it is his moments of revelation that are powerful. Silencer and Nugget have the smallest number of pages devoted to their voices, but both of them made a huge impression on me. Silencer's POV is where some of the black and white of this book turns to grey. I struggled a lot with Nugget's role, but then I remembered that what his character faces is really happening in some places of the world today. I appreciate that Yancey took the risk to include him. I haven't come close to mentioning all of the fantastic characters. You'll just have to read the book to meet the rest. 

I was surprised at how much I swooned while reading The 5th Wave. Personally, I am a big fan of the pairing (and potential pairing) happening in here. I thought it made the story stronger and more complex. This book has no love triangle, and I hope it stays that way in the future. PLEASE NO LOVE TRIANGLES, Mr. Yancey! 

It took some time for the story to gain momentum. Although I was very interested from the beginning, it wasn't until the third voice that I was glued to this story. Also, I had a huge meltdown about the last two pages. I literally fretted about them for 5 days after I finished reading the book, worrying that they would completely change my feelings about this series (sometimes I get dramatic). But on day 5, I had a massive epiphany, which made me feel MUCH better about everything. I'm going to tell you all about my revelation, but it's a spoiler. Look below the line only if you've read the book.  

But really, The 5th Wave is as exciting and addicting as everyone says it is. The narrative asks compelling questions and includes some excellent moral ambiguity, all while featuring lots of dangerous action. Even with all the comparisons to other books in the description above, this book feels fresh and sophisticated. I'm hoping the next one will be even more awesome.  

Love Triangle Factor: None so far - let's keep it that way.
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. LOTS unresolved, but ended on a quiet moment. 


It's no secret that I don't like love triangles, so I was pleasantly surprised that this book didn't appear to have one...until I got to the last two pages. Then all of a sudden there was a strange moment between Ben and Cassie that seemed to be foreshadowing a future triangle. I could not understand what it was doing there, because it felt so out of place with the rest of the high action, alien apocalypse story. Out of all possible choices, why would the author leave us with that moment? Even if it wasn't really foreshadowing a triangle, it felt like Yancey wanted us to THINK it was. I literally had a huge tantrum and started panicking that the whole next book would completely shift focus to Evan-Cassie-Ben relationship drama. But then I had an epiphany, and decided that maybe Yancey was saying something else entirely in that final scene.

What if those last two pages aren't foreshadowing a love triangle at all, or even about Ben hitting on Cassie. Maybe they're only saying something about Cassie. Maybe they speak to the end of something instead of a beginning. What I mean is that perhaps those final moments of The 5th Wave symbolize the end of Cassie's childhood, and life as she knew it, including her long held crush on Ben. Or at least how she always envisioned her crush would turn into a relationship with him. 

After Ben gives Cassie that weird cheek kiss (which could mean nothing more than being sweet on his part, we don't know what he's thinking), she tries to start up that conversation that she'd always imagined having with him - where they reminisce about a moment they shared on the bus in elementary school. But Ben is all "what are you talking about?" At first I thought it was a pretty harsh move on his part, showing how little he paid attention to Cassie, though he knew her for years. But perhaps that moment is really there to explain that Cassie's pre-invasion dreams don't matter any more, and it's time to move on from them.

I thought it was out of place to start something romantic at the very end of the book, especially after Cassie had just had a moment remembering how she and Evan had been one when their minds connected. That doesn't mean something won't happen between Ben and Cassie (though I hope NOT. He's much better suited for someone else.). In my mind, it just shifts the scene's focus away from teasing a relationship between them, and makes it about Cassie's growth and personal realization that life will never be the same again. Granted, I have no idea what Yancey is actually saying, but it makes me feel better to think of it in this way.

What is your impression of the final scene? Do you think it's foreshadowing a love triangle, or saying something completely different? 

If you're interested in further discussing this book, including my thoughts on the final scene. (Fair warning, that part gets ranty, especially before I had my epiphany), check the comments under my Goodreads review, HERE



  1. Hmm, only until the third voice? I don't have that kind of patience, unfortunately, and quite a few of my friends who finished this one seemed to have disliked it too. *sigh* I know I'll be reading Yancey's debut trilogy and maybe I'll return to this so we can discuss all those delightful spoilers! ;) Still, great, balanced review, Lauren!

  2. Fantastic review, L! (I'll be tweeting this out later:)

    We've already talked at length about this book, and you know that I am a RAGING fan. I love the huge, sweeping quality it encompasses, to me it already has that EPIC feel to it. And it's not just the story that makes me feel this way (although it has summer blockbuster movie written all over it) it's mostly the WRITING. This book is so well written. And it's the big moral and ethical questions that arise from it as well. And the romance was icing on the cake:)

    **Maybe just a little bit of spoilery in the last part of my comment:

    I love your epiphany. I think you are definitely onto something. There are many mentions in the book of the Before and the After times, so it makes sense that that final scene between Cassie and Ben could be there as a moment of "closure", a moment when Cassie finally steps away from the past to embrace an uncertain, but hopeful, future.

  3. Yeah, I'm not happy about the idea of the potential thing mentioned in your spoiler, either. While I like Cassie and Evan a lot, the romance also could have used more development, imo.

    But overall--I'm so thrilled that you loved the book! I couldn't stop turning the pages either, and I agree, there's a lot to ponder afterwards. I'm very curious about what's going to happen next in this story, and if he has more surprises for us up his sleeve.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  4. Ooh I am so excited to read this; it sounds so great and suspenseful. Lucky you, not having too long of a wait from your library! I started at #17 a few days before it was released and am still #10 now. *sigh* I'll get to read it eventually. I am so curious to see what your epiphany is, but I'll wait until after I read it instead of getting spoiled now! I'm glad you enjoyed reading this book so much, Lauren!


    I didn't think Yancey was moving toward a love triangle. It seemed more that he didn't want us to think that Cassie's high school emotional life was irrelevant, despite an apocalyptic change in the world. It's part of the theme of humanity--what makes us human--in the book. In the end she pauses to remember the crush, from her changed point of view and circumstance. And as we all would, she remembers it with a kind of lingering sentimental "tingle," even while recognizing Ben's bond with Ringer and her own strong feelings for Evan (which I think solidified when he followed her into the camp--she truly came to trust him).

    But something more basic disturbs me much more! It started to nag at me when we began to learn that the aliens have been watching humans for years, and it solidified when we heard that their observations of us started a full 6,000 years ago (4,000 B.C.E.). I worried about plausibility. At that time on earth, there were only something like 7-14 million human beings alive, with primitive technology. Why would a couple of hundred thousand aliens sit around for 6,000 years "studying," watching a species grow to 9 billion with advanced technology? What other alternatives could they have come up with in 6,000 years? How about sterilizing the population and letting the species die out? How about carrying out the same plan, but earlier--infest humans, "invent" more advanced weaponry, and then exterminate?

    Maybe this will be answered in subsequent books, but it troubled me.

    1. **SPOILERS AGAIN** Another detail that made me stumble (but maybe I misunderstood something): Vosch admits to killing human refugees older than 15, and Cassie is turned away from the bus at 16 (even though there are two free seats), but Ben was taken in as a recruit at whatever similar age he is (17?). What gives? I know we need Cassie to be on the "outside" to advance the action, but the alien plan should be consistent.

  6. OMG I totally felt some sort of Chaos Walking vibe! It just reminded me of epicness and characters to love. And some aliens. (I haven't read Ender's Game either)

    I think it is possible for a love triangle to be created here but I'm not sure if the author will go that route. We have to wait until AUGUST 2014 to find out. That makes me want to cry! I'm so glad you loved this too!

  7. You could be right about the triangle. Evan was a little creeper-y for me, so I'm kind of hoping for a new guy anyway. *hides*

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

  8. AH I WANT TO READ THIS! Usually I really love the "dreading something is going to happen" feeling so I'm nervous about it, but excited. Yay for no love triangles! I hope it stays that way as well. And you should be very proud, I didn't read the spoiler even though I wanted to ;)

  9. I will bet my life savings that this sucker is heading triangle-wards. About halfway through I started getting a deep, deep sense of foreboding. And that was disappointing.

    That said, I can't tell you how thrilled I am that there is an anti-love-triangle blog.

  10. So I haven't personally read the book yet and I am just seeing the movie version late. But I disagree. Like I said I havent read the book yet (it's in the mail along with #2 and #3 has been pre-ordered) but when I watched the movie I felt like Ben & Cassie would be good for eachother. Of course there is going to be a love triangle in the movies (not sure about the books yet) because you can tell from the animosity when Evan kissed Cassie in front of Ben. I personally like to ship the ones who don't have a thing (like I wanted Bella to end up with Jacob but she didn't) and that's partially why I want Cassie to end up with Ben, but also because even though this is a movie about another strong independent women taking the world by storm, it would be nice to see her with a man that she could lean on maybe just once when she needs to vent and if Evan is always dealing with something else, like blowing up a building or trying to fend off other silencers, then how can he be there for Cassie. Ben is already there and that's why I want them to be together. Like I said I haven't read the books but I have read a lot about the books online and that's where I am getting my knowledge.

    But I also love your point about when Ben gives Cassie the awk kiss on the cheek, that maybe it is a symbol of her remembering the past but needing to move on because things are definitely not the way they used to be. I hope (as written in The Infinate Sea) that Ben and Cassie will share an on screen kiss to show the viewers who aren't big on reading, that point if that is what the Author is getting towards.

    And just for the record I absolutely am not a book person. I'd rather wait for the movie and have it spoiled by those who read the book rather than to take my time to read it, but after seeing this movie and reading all the info about the books online, like this blog for example, I must go back and read them now. And I hate reading, but there's just something missing for me that the movie didn't give.


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