Book Review – The 5th Wave

  • Author: Ricky Yancey
  • Publisher: Penguin Group
  • Release Date: May 8th, 2013
  • Pages: 457

Alien Invasion

If the phrase “alien invasion” has ever had you wonder what would happen if our world was invaded by aliens, author Rick Yancy has brought this very scenario to life in his novel The 5th Wave

Some of us have wished for an alien invasion at some point or other, but have we ever thought about the aftermath of the attack? Of course, an invasion might sound fascinating, but it will carry something awful with it; we are unaware of the consequences, some of us still think that aliens would be like the one in E.T. Friendly and kind, and they will help us fly our bicycle right up to the moon. 

The 5th Wave has that familiar aura of being cliche, but it is addictive. In a world ambushed by aliens, you would think the story would present humanity’s sin’s and the attack being the result of it, but the most striking thing about this book is, how little it dwells on the mistakes of human beings and limits itself from clouding the plot with allegories. Instead, it is a book to be enjoyed. You wouldn’t contemplate on the wantons of human beings, but it focuses (as it should) in the future, this does not deteriorate the value and sheer thrill that it holds and unfolds.

Log #1

“I haven’t been addicted to a book quite like this in a while.”

While I think all books have at least hints of allegories, thankfully, The 5th Wave doesn’t get lost in creating them. This novel doesn’t take itself too seriously, and for good reason. The story always carries a light mood (even though sometimes it wants to be gritty), but it is not afraid to get it’s hands dirty, and sometimes it exceeds the violence in the emotions to a level higher than of Young Adult, and that falls into the Adult genre.

The Fifth Wave

Aliens have always been mystical, weird looking and terrifying creatures that exist in our minds thumb tagged by the movie such as Alien or Independence Day. The aliens in The 5th Wave have a different look compared to the typical way aliens are presented. These aliens are human, but they are not human. They are you, but they are not you. They’re an unnoticeable part of us, someone we know, or maybe someone we care about. They live among us; they exist among us. Now, to understand this phrase better, you would have to read the story, but if you do understand this now then, you have a pretty good idea about the story.

The Sixth Paragraph

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t read 150 pages in a single day, and I would be lying more graciously if I stated that I wasn’t addicted to it because I was.

The story starts with Cassie, abandoned by almost everyone she ever loved and on a single quest to save the one last person important to her, Cassie’s brother, Nugget (that’s not his real name, but I like to use it). She is the heroine, portrayal of a strong woman and a protagonist worth rooting for, that is, until 70 pages in when you realize that something bigger is going on that is more important than Cassie and her brother but which coincidentally involves Cassie and her brother. The plot then takes a different view of a guy who called Silencer. A silencer’s job is, you guessed it (and now you’re a millionaire) to silence. I wouldn’t tell you his real name or what happens but just know that it happens.

The plot then again shifts focus away from Cassie and the Silencer and shifts towards a guy whose-name-will-not-be-taken for spoiler purposes and then again. This book has four perspectives and even though sometimes, there is too much emphasis on establishing one character and so it forgets to change its point of view. But when the action occurs, it constantly shifts from one perspective to another to give a better comprehension of what is going on, and that is the part where it is the most thrilling.

Log #2

“The dialogues are sometimes lacky. Okay! They are kids but, they can speak at least a single memorable dialogue.”

The pacing of the story is very fast, and there is always something important going on. Sometimes, I felt that Cassie chose the most inappropriate time to establish a juxtaposition of the world before and after; this hurts the momentum because when you’re trying to overcome a strenuous situation, your mind doesn’t wander off to the world beyond but you seek to find a solution to the problem in hand, and it begins to get lengthy and sometimes boring because you have a critical condition which needs immediate attention, and you’re just walking in the park. A walk is healthy unless a bee stings you, and the bee stings quite a few times in this world.

The characters are not the ones I would want with me when the apocalypse happens, but they are real enough to root for and emotional enough to feel sympathy towards them.

This book, however, consists of one problem that I have seen numerous times in YA books. Awkward romance. There is something creepy and off-putting about the romance that I can never find myself looking at these characters in a romantic way. It is as if these characters aren’t interested in a relationship, but decide to make out and see if this relationship can last in spite of the world ending. Yowza!

Now, this is not as stupid as it sounds. If implemented well enough, romance can be a great sub-plot but in a generic fashion, it doesn’t work here. Cassie is constantly in a love-hate relationship with a guy, and sometimes it gets confusing, and I found myself profoundly shouting ‘What the heck do you want Cassie?’.

Maybe Rick Yancy wanted this to show the dilemma that Cassie faces in her love life, because she is sixteen, and that’s what girls do when they are sixteen (or so what Mr. Yancy applies that they do), but I couldn’t get behind it, nor I felt any ‘spark’ in the romance that it was aiming for. The romance was the weird part of the story that felt unnecessary and forced sometimes. The romance in this story is just as awkward for the reader as it is for the characters.

"It's not about the time we're here but what we do with the time."

Overall, the writing is admirable. Yancy wrote the action scenes and emotional scenes with such delicacy and dedication; I could feel the adrenaline rush and the urgency of a situation (except where the flashbacks were imminent).

The progression of the story was very well balanced with the action and providing the characters time to interact and develop throughout the story. After a while, the story soaked me in so much, that it occupied my mind when I was not reading it and made me contemplate when I was reading it, and when it finally reveals what it wants to, it was not something that I was expecting because I wasn’t waiting for anything. There was no warning, no foreshadowing about what it was and it just happened. Out of the blue, it kicked me in the stomach and told me to suck it, and I liked it so much that I swallowed it in one big gulp. However, as the story progresses towards revealing the ultimate truth, it all seems like a farce and a plan like the one of Dr. Evil. The plan is believable but sometimes it just seems a little stupid.

"They must have laughed their asses off. If they have a sense of humour...or asses."

I enjoyed The 5th Wave. It was fast paced, had a great cast of characters (everyone is not particularly likable) balanced storytelling with action and emotions and an ending that didn’t leave me wanting for more. I didn’t felt like reading the next book when I finished it because the ending was plausible on its own while setting the story for the next book. I don’t want to read the next book, but heck, I am excited about it.

The 5th Wave is an action-packed roller-coaster ride. It is thrilling, emotional, and a little mysterious. The run-of-the-mill characters and dialogues hinder it from becoming a perfect alien invasion story, but it doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining one. The 5th Wave trilogy continues in Infinite Sea and Last Star

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About the author

Rohit Meena

Rohit falls sick if he doesn't read. He feels uneducated if he doesn't read, and a single day doesn't go by when he doesn't read.

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