Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

May 7, 2013 ARC Challenge, Book Reviews 18 ★★★½

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 7th 2013
Pages: 480
Format: ebook

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 5th Wave is a well crafted novel that tackles the subject of an alien invasion with more realism and tension than I have come across in a long time.

The story is told in multiple points of view, the main being Cassie Sullivan, a teenage girl, on the run, surviving the wilds as she aims to find her brother who was taken to a rescue camp by the military. I really like Cassie, she was snarky, brave, enjoyable to read about. Yancey did a realistic job in creating a strong narrative voice in particular one of a teenage girl who always rang true and authentic.

I liked how he didn’t gloss over the minutiae of living in the wild and the little details of the complexities of surviving by yourself, on the run with little experience was a welcome breath of fresh air (hello tampons anyone? Nice to know someone remembered!)

The 5th Wave’s biggest strength is its ability to create that foreboding tension and paranoia that you imagine would accompany an alien invasion as you realise there literally is no one you can really trust, at times not even yourself. There are brutal elements too which were at times hard to stomach, the scenes of training child soldiers for war were difficult to get through and I admit to skimming at times as the age of them really hit home and was a stark reminder that there are areas in the world where children are performing such duties with no mother ship winking down at them as a reason.

It’s biggest failing for me was the multiple POV’s. I wasn’t as emotionally invested in them all as I was in Cassie’s and at times grew frustrated as I felt it stilted the pacing. I also found their final character reveal as predictable which dispensed with a lot of the tension as I read waiting for the book to catch up.

Overall it is a strong, compelling work that handles a subject easily prey to the ridiculous in a capable and intelligent manner that makes one think about whether we really are alone in the universe and if not, do we even have a hope?


18 Responses to “Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey”

  1. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    So far, yours is the only review I’ve found that also mentions the weakness of the POVs. I liked Cassie a lot initially, but her romance sort of killed that for me, because I liked her harder attitude. Also, I couldn’t tell Zombie’s POV from hers. When his section started, I was actually like “wait, Cassandra is a DUDE?” but then his name was said and I was like “oh, I’m dumb.” Seriously, though, it shouldn’t be that hard to distinguish them. Though I did like the chapter from the POV of the killer, it shouldn’t have been included because it telegraphed the ending. Such a shame.

    • Danielle

      Lol yeah I did the same thing. I was like does she have a split personality or something??? Facepalm! I thought how quickly she accepted Evan’s reveal and fell into his arms a bit much too.

  2. Shannon

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the book overall, because I wasn’t sure based on some of your Goodreads status updates, hehe. I totally know what you mean about books that switch POV (or in some cases…. from present to past). It’s just harder to really connect compared to books where you get to dive into their thoughts completely. Guess what? I just won this on Goodreads First Reads Giveaway (woo hoo…. I know you think I have all the luck… haha), so I guess I’ll be reading this one, too.

    • Danielle

      Nice!! I hope to get a paperback soon. I love the cover. I think you’ll like it! Overall it was very good, I think it was just over hyped so had a lot to live up too. I’ll probably read this in a couple of months and LOVE it 🙂

  3. tonyalee


    Anyway, sucks you didn’t enjoy this as much as your anticipated. Honestly, I think yours is the only review I have read that isn’t RAVING about it. (Not that there aren’t any, I’m sure)

    I dislike switching POV- especially more than 2. I’ll probably still read it though (when the hype DIES)

    Great review !

    • Danielle

      Yes I feel like a lone wolf out here! lol Defo give it a read at some stage, I’m sure I’ll love it if I re-read but the switching POV’s irked the hell out of me tbh

  4. Ariella Blake

    I really really HATE multiple POVs. I always get confused about who’s talking now and I have to figure it out but can’t because it doesn’t say the person’s name on top (in an ebook). I’ve heard raving reviews about this but I might hold it off just because of the switching POVs. Lovely review, Danielle!

    • Danielle

      Thanks Ariella! It is a very good book and I usually don’t mind switching POVs but when it takes you a minute to realise who is talking that’s not good! Defo give it a read when the hype peters out, I think you’ll enjoy it more 🙂

  5. BookishTrish

    Multiple pov’s are a bit of a fail for me too, just as you are getting sucked it, they switch and it breaks the momentum. Still can’t wait to read though! And bonus points for womenly realities!

    • Danielle

      I think it’ll make a fab movie. You’re right about breaking the momentum especially with the MC’s storyline. I think I may get it on audiobook. I think it’d be more enjoyable.

        • Danielle

          I wasn’t for ages then I “read” The Hunger Games and Divergent and was hooked.They are brill for out walking and running as I keep a decent pace rather than shuffling between music tracks and losing my rhythm

  6. Suzanne @ Paranormal Pages

    I really enjoyed this book. I think I loved everything about it 🙂 And thankfully, the POV’s worked for me, but Cassie’s was definitely my favourite. Great review Danielle

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