The 5th Wave by 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, just one rule applies: trust no one.

5th wave coverCassie, short for Cassiopeia, has been living alone in the woods ever since her father was killed and her brother taken away by the Others. She made her brother Sammy a promise–to keep him safe–and she plans on keeping that promise even though she doesn’t know where she is going or if he’s even still alive, even if she’s the last human on Earth. 

The 5th Wave is an excellent dystopian YA novel. The characters are interesting, the plot is believable and well-paced with just the right amount of twists at the right time, and the Others are mysterious and terrifying. The story is told from a variety of perspectives, though it mainly features the teenaged Cassie, living alone in the woods and trying to rescue her brother. It is from her perspective that we learn about the horrors of the previous “waves” of alien invasion. And they were horrific. I don’t want to give too much away, but there were one part that was too creepy not to share. In the third wave, the Others infect birds with Ebola. The birds in turn infect and kill something like 97% of Earth’s population (I don’t remember the exact number). I think that scared me more than anything else in the book. It was the third wave that killed Cassie’s mother and forced her, her father and her brother to leave their home. Cassie does better than most staying alone to stay alive. But everything changes when she is shot by an Other on the highway, and is eventually rescued by Evan Walker. She knows something is not right about Evan, and she must decide whether or not to trust him, and if trusting him will help her or keep her from saving her brother. 

Part of the novel is told from the perspective of Ben Parish, seventeen year old boy who is recruited into the army when he barely survives the Ebola virus. He is eventually code-named Zombie and put in charge of a squad of children–one as young as seven–who all believe they are helping the humans fight and destroy the Others. I will admit I knew there was something suspicious about this plot point, but it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. Vague, I know, but it was a great twist and I don’t want to spoil it. 

This whole book was very dark and disturbing. Not so much that I felt it was too creepy to be a YA book, but definitely unsettling enough to have me jumping at shadows for a few nights. Most dystopian YA books have a distinct sense of hopefulness, or some sign that eventually things could work out. This one did not; though, there were glimmers of hope and happiness, not the constant depression of the Last Survivors trilogy (you can find my reviews under the Reviewed Books tab and read my rants about those if you feel so inclined). The book had some moments I didn’t like, or some dialogue (most whining) I could have lived without. But then, I’m an adult reading YA lit so that happens to me a lot, haha. Otherwise, no complaints about this book and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here. Additionally, word on the street is there are serious plans to turn this book into a movie. For what is probably the first time ever, I think that would be a great idea. This book was action-packed and does not strike me as the kind that will disintegrate into nothingness once you aren’t inside the characters heads any more. This is one book-to-movie I would go see. If you are a fan of dystopian books, science fiction, or alien invasion novels, go out and read this book right away. 

Happy reading,

-Branwen

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