Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

A Second Opinion: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (review by Cuyler)

The 1st Wave. Lights Out. Your car. Your cellphone. Your toaster? Toast.

The 2nd Wave. Surf’s Up. Heard of a tsunami? Meet great-grandaddy tsunami. Hope you can hold your breath, because they’re only getting started.

The 3rd Wave. Pestilence. The Red Tsunami. Not to be confused with Wave number two. This is a bit more personal. How does bleeding out of every orifice sound?

The 4th Wave. Silencers. You don’t hear them. You don’t see them. You don’t even know where the heck they’re coming from. All you feel is their bullet blow through your abdomen. Run=die. Hide=die.

The 5th Wave. This only applies to you if by some divine miracle you’ve survived the previous Waves. Kudos to you. Better start praying the 4th was the last. But it won’t be. They’re not done. Wait in your bunker, your tent, your underpass hobo extravaganza, for the 5thWave is coming. You’re about to be evicted from your own planet. 


This is what the world has come to. They came. They destroyed. They are conquering. The Others just backed your King into a corner of the board.

You are no longer offered time to think about anything before you do it. It’s either you or them. They’re either human, or they soaren’t that the only options available to you are how you’re going to kill them. Your life is measured in seconds. What you do and how you react determines if you’re dead or not by the time the next one rolls around the clock. You don’t think before you shoot. You just pick. Life or death. It’s an either/or world now.

And it’s a world Cassie lives in. Breathes, reacts, and kills in. Cassie for Cassiopeia. The survivor amongst billions dead. The tiny little blip on the radar she prays every day she isn’t on. She shoots and asks questions later. Actually, she doesn’t even bother asking. She just does. It’s either her or them. After all, she may very well be the last human alive on Earth. But she knows she isn’t. By a promise that drives her, she fights for something that’s even more important than her own life. The owner of a worn, dirt-covered, teddy bear–that’s seen more bloodshed than any stuffed animal should ever see–Sammy. Her little X-Wing fighter pilot. Her little brother. The one who got on that yellow bus with all the other kids. The one that waved goodbye in the rear window. The one clueless that just after leaving the camp, the same people who supposedly rescued the children, gave them fruit gummies, and promised to come back for their families as soon as they were safe at Camp Haven, slaughtered their parents, brothers, sisters, and anyone else who wasn’t allowed to get on that yellow school bus.

All of them except for Cassie. By the skin of her teeth she escaped the “savior-soldiers,” but not before she made a promise to Sammy.

She’d be right behind him.

In a world where promises are the only human thing that matters anymore, Cassie is determined to follow through. However many bullets. However much blood, sweat, and tears that seep from her body. However many thoughtless kills. She will survive. And if the 5thWave doesn’t kill her first–whatever horrors it may bring–she will find her brother.
If a book could have a billion distinctive feels, this is one of them. I’m not going to say that it was “better than the Hunger Games,” not because one was better than the other, but because it has an all-out, who-needs-sleep awesomeness of its own. It demands to stand out. A post-apocalyptic gem in the apoca-lit treasure chest.

Rick Yancey is one of my all-time favorite authors. Several painful, excited, and engrossing nights were spent delving into the world of Yancey’s The Monstrumologist and The Curse of the Wendigo, to which I devotedly followed Will Henry’s terrifying, blood-drenched journey like a crazy, jittery fanguy, and in this last week reading The 5th Wave, I’ve about exploded with fanguy crazy-jitteriness. Cassie is a hard-edged girl made of action and reaction, blood and sweat, shoot and shoot some more thinking who fiercely survives in a world taken over by a demented, forget-taking-me-to-your-leader-because-we-already-toasted-his-butt alien race. She’s fierce. She’s determined. And with the unscathed drive to find her little brother, she’s friggin’ deadly.

Yancey shows his diverse talents in several ways. Number one, transitioning from a proper-speaking monster hunter’s apprentice, to a present day teen girl who’s just trying to survive the alien apocalypse. Number two, throughout The 5thWave, Yancey tells the story from several points of views, even characters with different genders and goals, and he tells them in such a way that each character has his or her own voice and personality. You don’t get the bland mix of default character feels where every character sounds the same. Not even close. You come to love, hate, and respect the characters as themselves, not as a group. And the bad guys really suck, some more than others.

One thing I absolutely love about Rick Yancey’s writing is he tells it how it is, down to the grossest, harshest, most vivid detail he can squeeze out of his words. And somehow, it’s not overdone, which is an incredible feat. He makes real, relatable characters that aren’t made of steel and are riddled with shatter-points. He makes them human. There were several times when Cassie was in a huge, deadly situation and she was falling all over the place, and there were also times where she tripped just cause. People really do those things. There were even a few places that were girly and gushy, but it fit. That’s what would really happen in that situation. Just because Cassie’s an alien slayer, doesn’t mean she’s lost who she is. She’s still a girl. I also loved how he portrayed Cassie’s thoughts, and even there she made mistakes. She was real. She was human. And yet she pulls through and does the impossible: remains human in a humanless world. If there any guys out there susceptible to fictional character crushes (yes, we have those too) have your heart wrapped and packaged with a nice bow, because Cassie’s gonna to take it.

There are literally a gazillion things I love about this book (like the references to Star Wars, the creepy alien menace, the gritty action scenes), but my favorite thing was the wit. There were so many one-liners I wish I had the memory to quote, so many morbidly hilarious descriptions, all the sarcastic thoughts and banter between characters, this book had it all. Scary, charming, gritty, creepy, mysterious, and hilarious. It’s like all the candy bars in the world mashed up into one AWESOME candy bar.
The plot was simple, but deliciously effective and creepy in all the right places. The characters real and relatable, the dialogue witty and entertaining, and if you all know simple math, all these things=FRIGGIN’ GENIUS.

The 5th Wave is an excellent read for this summer (which would’ve probably been a better time for me to read, since I almost missed eating, sleeping, and studying for tests because of the pure awesomeness that is Yancey’s newest word-baby ), and everyone with a beating heart, eyes, and a working brain will devour it in one sitting. I rate a very well deserved five stars (only ‘cause I can’t count to ‘gazillion’), and advise you clear your schedule, give up sleeping, and eat only if you have another hand to turn a page, because you’re going to want to get your alien-slaying claws into this apocalyptic masterpiece.
What did you think of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey? Tell us in the comments.

Speak Your Mind

*