Friday, July 5, 2013

REVIEW: The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey Website Facebook Twitter
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 480
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

First Thoughts: Definitely a good read, but (sadly) it didn’t really live up to all of the hype for me. I liked the characters, I liked the story, but I didn’t necessarily LOVE it. Does that make sense?

I was first introduced to this book when John Green (all hail!) tweeted out how enthralled he was by it. With his recommendation alone, it immediately flew to the top of my to-be-read list. I then discovered the book trailers; I showed them to my students and we were all hooked. We couldn’t wait for the book to be released. I saw reviews and anticipation all over the internet and my expectations continued to rise. Could this be my next Divergent? My next Unwind? Imagine my excitement when my hold at the library finally came through. Unfortunately, for me, it was all downhill from there, or I guess, maybe I should say, it plateaued there. My elation for The 5th Wave was never higher than when I started the book.

Perhaps some of the fault is with me; I had some misconceptions that influenced my opinion of the book. For one, I assumed that the entire story was going to be from the point of view of the main heroine, Cassie. The book trailers were all in one female voice and the summary portrayed the novel as her story. Instead, the story is told from multiple perspectives, and it wasn’t immediately apparent whose perspective you were getting. Normally I am a HUGE fan of multiple narrators; I love to see different sides of the same event. For some reason, in this book, I hated it. I did a lot of thinking afterwards about why something I usually covet in a book bothered me so much. I came to the conclusion that I wanted more of Cassie’s story. I guess I felt disjointed with the multiple narrators. With so many different stories - Cassie’s, Evan’s, Ben’s, Sammy’s - I never really wholly connected to any of them. I am a character reader; if I don’t connect with the characters, if they aren’t developed, I can’t connect to the book. Ultimately, that’s what went wrong for me in this novel.

I will say, I loved the concept of the book. I would never categorize myself as a fan of alien fiction, but Rick Yancey really made a believer out of me with his concept. He made an alien attack almost too realistic, and he did it in a way that made fun of our usual stereotypes. There were no big-headed aliens walking around, no ufos circling the White House - there was only a psychological attack on humanity (the scariest kind of attack possible). I liked his use of the waves and how each one, although devastating, still provided the survivors with hope. If they weren’t dead already, maybe the aliens could be defeated? The story was essentially a survivor story - what would it take for humanity to survive in the face of all out defeat? As a reader, you don’t get a better real-life question than that to ponder throughout a fictional tale.

Final Thoughts: I’m really disappointed I didn’t enjoy this book more; I really, really wanted to. I liked the concept, I liked the central themes and questions of the book, but ultimately, I couldn’t connect to the main character, even when I really really wanted to.

Who Should Read It? This book appeals to a lot of different types of readers: guys, girls, action, sci-fi, adventure, and realistic readers alike will all enjoy this book. Even though I found the characters hard to truly empathize with, the story alone carries enough potential reality to creep out any reader.


  1. Aw, sorry to hear this one didn't live up to your expectations. I love that you shared your excitement for it with your students, though! I'm curious---did any of them read it and enjoy it? I meant to read this one and just never got around to it, but I fear I might have the same problems, I'm a huge character reader myself.

    Great review!

  2. My biggest worry about reading a book that is so hyped is that I read it and dislike it. It can be frustrating, when you don't get as much enjoyment as others did reading it. I haven't gotten the chance to pick this one up yet, but I hope to soon!

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