The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey
Summary: 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.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy
I was on the fence about reading The 5th Wave for awhile, but the movie trailer looked decent, so I decided now would be a good time to give it a go. I was expecting an action packed alien apocalypse story (and now that I’m over the declining quality of the show Falling Skies, I was definitely ready for it).
I don’t think The 5th Wave was an all out awful book, but I didn’t enjoy it very much for a few reasons. I don’t understand the hype about it. If you want a well written aliens-take-over YA romance, you should just read The Host by Stephanie Meyer. Even if the whole alien falls for human plot line seems weird to you, at least The Host fully goes there and explores everything while also being enjoyable and original.
The 5th Wave was a confusing mash of familiar alien apocalypse ideas. Instead of picking one and truly rolling with it, it decided to just include them all. Aliens creating a plague to kill us off? Check. Aliens destroy technology leaving us to band together in small groups while they insert killers to flush us out? Check. Aliens secretly hide among us with no way to tell if they are us or them? Check. Aliens tricking humanity into thinking they are human as part of a scheme to help us wipe ourselves out? Check. So basically, The 5th Wave is just all the things. Because when a species wants to take over the Earth, they don’t pick one good strategy, they just do everything because… reasons? *rolls eyes* The 5th Wave doesn’t contain one original idea. From the make up of the “aliens” to the ways they attempt to take over, it’s all familiar.
Cassie was the other problem. At first, she seemed to be this awesome and strong lead, with a fierce personality, loyalty, and perseverance. But she wasn’t any of those things. She seemed awful before the apocalypse. She had this crush on some guy she didn’t even know at all and somehow he still was the topic of conversation in the alien apocalypse when she had much better things to worry about. And of course, said guy was still alive and one of the other multiple points of view in the story. *rolls eyes* She immediately got all gushy and weird about the creepiest love interest guy who was clearly hiding stuff from her.
Another thing that bothered me was that the author made it quite clear multiple times that Cassie was a virgin. I don’t know why it mattered because it wasn’t like it was the key to any plot point. She never lost it, nor did she ever reveal that information to her possible suitors for any reason. I didn’t need to know about it one way or the other. And then there was that one scene where one of the characters attempted to grab/forcefully seduce her, asked her if she was a virgin, and then assumed she must have been after she punched him because apparently someone who wasn’t a virgin wouldn’t have refused his advances. WTF?! And that scene just ended and was never even necessary to the story.
The infuriating part about the book was how many pointless scenes were in it, like the one above, in which nothing really happened except the author told us she was a virgin (again) and then moved on. I thought most of The 5th Wave was predictable, from Evan’s motives to the real mission of Ben and his squad in the camp. The only parts that kept me guessing were the details. Would Cassie figure it out? Would she rescue Sam? Would Ben realize what was really going on? Apart from that, nothing really surprised me.
I wouldn’t recommend The 5th Wave and I definitely won’t read the rest of the series. I’m floored by the positive reviews from readers who have similar interests as I do. I know I’m reading a mediocre YA novel when I start to wonder if I’m just too old to be reading YA when I can see everything coming and the characters seem naïve and awful. And then I have to remind myself that no, I’m NOT too old to read YA when some of the best books I’ve read have been YA and they don’t do that to me.
I might still see the movie because I really like the actress who plays the lead. I also hope that the movie cuts out a lot of the repetition and pointless scenes, since movies usually do a good job of cutting things out of books. It has the potential to be better, but I’d honestly rather just reread The Host than think about this series.
This completes the Disaster Fiction category of the Eclectic Reader Challenge.