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The 5th Wave (Book Review)

Author: Rick Yancey

Series: The 5th Wave (Book #1)

Publisher: Speak/Penguin

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Aliens,  Sci-Fi

Release Date: May 7th 2013

Page Count: 457

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780142425831


Author Website | Purchase on Amazon | Book DepositoryGoodreads


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“I don’t care what the stars say about how small we are. One, even the smallest, weakest, most insignificant one, matters.”

Get ready for an unpopular opinion in 3…2…1…

I really was not a huge fan of this book at all. It left me with a feeling of disappointment especially considering the amount of hype that is surrounding this novel. Maybe that was the problem, there was just so much hype. Sometimes that can be a really good indicator as to how great a novel is, but sometimes it can mislead you into thinking you’re going to love the story when it turns out to be the opposite.

I kept seeing review after review for The 5th Wave being posted on Goodreads, but I didn’t really know what the story was all about until I read the synopsis online. It definitely caught my attention as it was something completely different from the genres I’ve been reading lately. This could also be a part of the problem as to why I didn’t like this book so much.

Goodreads synopsis: 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.

As stated earlier, the synopsis really grabbed my attention. I don’t think I have ever read an alien-oriented novel before to be honest. I thought the idea of a dystopian, not-too-distant future where aliens start taking over Earth in a series of different waves was a very unique concept. Rather than a quick invasion, these aliens slowly infiltrate Earth which causes a lack of action in the first half of the story. Instead, the story starts out with a re-cap of the first four waves of the alien invasion from the character of Cassie’s point of view as the story begins after the first four waves have already occured. The 5th Wave is broken up into many different sections. I actually liked the first little section of the book that explained the story so far through a series of flashbacks. It helped me get to know Cassie as well as her family and friends.

Once the second section began, I was pretty excited because it was being told from a new character perspective. I usually love when a story is told from two points of view and I was particularly intrigued in this case because it was a mystery who this character was until the big reveal at the end of the section. It was pretty cool to see the difference in perspectives between one character who was out all alone on Earth while it was run by aliens mixed with the perspective of a character who was trained by an army to hunt and kill said aliens, also known as the “Others”.

Now the third section is where the story started to go downhill for me. Yet another character perspective was introduced. As I said, I love dual character points of view, but more than one can be a little confusing. What really bothered me about this perspective the most was that this was the only section that was told from this point of view. Why do it at all? I understand it may have been done to gain a better understanding of the alien species that are taking over Earth, which is a pretty cool idea but if you’re going to introduce a third perspective, I would have liked to see it in at least a couple of sections rather than just one.

I think the writing style was a bit all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I think mixing genres such as Sci-Fi, Dystopian and Romance is very possible, but in this case it just felt a little messy, there was no smooth transition from one genre to the next. The Sci-Fi aspect worked well with the Dystopian genre, but the Romance felt awkward and misplaced.

The characters were pretty decent for the most part. Cassie was a little too sarcastic and cynical at some moments. I’m sure an alien invasion that wipes out most of humanity could do that to a person, but she was the same way in the flashbacks before any of the waves began. Other than that she was presented as a very strong female character which is always a plus. It was pretty cool to learn about Ben (Zombie) and his past. Cassie had always praised him before the waves began and it was great to learn more about him and his life during the invasion which really humanized him. Then there is Sammy, Cassie’s little brother. We don’t get to see the story from his perspective, but he is the link between Cassie and Ben’s story lines. Evan is a character that I’m not sure about yet. I want to trust him and the writing style seems to make the reader believe that they should trust him, but there’s just something about him that I’m not too fond of. His moments with Cassie were really strange as well and that’s what threw off the romance aspects of the novel for me. On top of these main characters, there are a lot of minor characters and we have yet to learn their stories. I’m hoping that we do get to learn more about them in the sequels.

The book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but nothing that has me unable to sleep with anticipation. Although I wasn’t particularly enthralled by this book, I do want to continue onto the sequel, The Infinite Sea, purely based on my curiosity as to what is going to happen with the main characters as well as some of the minor ones.

As a graphic designer I feel inclined to comment on the cover of the book as well. The cover is beautiful and probably one of the main reasons for my decision to purchase it. I love the title being centred in the middle with an overlay effect that makes it slightly transparent. Also, I know this is a minor detail, but I love how the “th” in “5th” was placed within the number 5. The silhouette of a human in what seems like an abandoned landscape really adds to the eerie feel of an apocalypse. I also love the monotone feel to the entire image.

Overall, this book took me a lot longer to read than I had hoped mainly because I was bored throughout a lot of it. It had a few moments that pulled me in, but those moments were overpowered by some long dry spells. I think that the amount of hype surrounding this book may have been what made it feel a little average to me. I prepared myself to be blown away, but unfortunately that just did not happen.


3 thoughts on “The 5th Wave (Book Review)

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