The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

the 5th waveThank Heaven for Little Girls…

😀 😀 😀 😀

An alien mothership hovers in the skies above Earth. But they’re not here to make new friends – it seems they’re intent on annihilating the human race. The first wave destroyed all technology leaving humanity almost defenceless, the second wave took out the coastal cities, the third wave released a virus that killed billions, the fourth wave remains almost entirely incomprehensible to me even though I’ve read the book… and no-one knows what the 5th wave will be. But fear not! The future of humanity is in the hands of a kickass teenage girl with a big gun, so I feel safe…

The book starts in the fourth wave with (oh, joy!) the first person present tense narrative of the aforesaid 16-year-old, Cassie, surviving alone in the woods after her parents have died, along with almost everyone else she knew. But her young brother was taken away, either by goodies or baddies – Cassie doesn’t know which – and she’s determined to find him. As she starts out on her journey, it’s Cassie who tells us the story of the alien invasion. Dark indeed though the story is, with some pretty horrific images, Cassie’s narrative is shot through with some much needed glimpses of humour which stop the book from becoming unbearably grim. Although she is firmly in the tradition of kickass heroines, she is nicely self-deprecating which makes her an enjoyable narrator.

We then swap to the story of Zombie, a 17-year-old boy who, like Cassie, has lost his entire family. Zombie has fallen in with a bunch of military people who are training the surviving children to be superkillers so that they can battle the aliens. (Why are they training the kids to do this rather than the adults? Because it’s a YA novel, silly! But I am deeply reassured to know that arming the 5-year-olds of today is an option, should we be invaded – in fact, I question why governments are not already doing this as a precautionary measure. I know I’d sleep sounder…) Zombie’s squad is struggling to get the points needed to graduate from training, until they are joined by Ringer, a super-kickass female who makes Cassie look quite cuddly in comparison…

Cassie meantime has fallen in with Evan, who nurses her back to health after she is injured. (Persons of a sensitive disposition may wish to look away now. Here’s a little musical interlude to fill the time…)

Evan is hot! No, really, I mean it – he has chocolatey eyes and Cassie finds it difficult to concentrate on alien annihilation because she’s distracted by the ’roundness of his butt inside his jeans’. We have a lovely little interlude of teen romance here, complete with lusting semi-naked girl-in-the-bath scene and honourable male denial. Depending on your perspective, this whole section is either awfully sweet or sick-makingly nauseating. Guess which category I fell into? Fortunately I was distracted from the worst of it by my grumpy-old-woman disapproval over Cassie’s frequent use of bad language, mostly fairly mild, but still – rather than romantically washing her hair, I felt someone should wash her mouth out with soap.

(You can come back now!)

Just as I felt that I could take no more and should seek out sanctuary in the local old folks’ home, we return to the story proper, and oddly I was so much happier when we got back to kids shooting each other again. This final section is full of action and builds up to a strong tense finale. There’s enough emotional content to stop it being purely a shoot-em-up and, although the way is left very clear for the follow-up (it’s a trilogy, obviously – it’s YA fantasy, so it’s the law), the ending is quite satisfying in itself.

Rick Yancey
Rick Yancey

Overall, I enjoyed this more than I was expecting. I could have lived happily without the sex-without-actual-sex scenes and the swearing, but I probably would have felt differently about those had I been in the correct age group for the book. And the basic plot premise doesn’t stand up to inspection at all. These have to be the dumbest aliens I’ve ever encountered – one feels that a race of beings who can travel across the universe and unleash all these amazing horrors could have done something to annihilate the entire human race in a oner, but then that would have ruined the story. And, avoiding spoilers, all the stuff about why the kids were being turned into trained killers makes absolutely no sense at all. But the writing is good, the characterisation is strong, and Cassie in particular is a very likeable heroine (though I’m led to believe the males in the readership think Ringer’s the coolest). And the action stuff is well done – there’s lots of violence but it’s not overly glamourised, I felt. Although it’s geared towards a YA audience, it’s one that dystopian thriller fans of any age might enjoy, so long as their disbelief-suspension mechanism is in good working order.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

39 thoughts on “The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

  1. Your reviews always give me a good chuckle, FF. I am waaaaay to ancient to properly enjoy YA anymore, but I do think it’s great that there is well-written stuff out there for younger readers. And it’s nice to see that although there are sexy bits and swearing (makes the reader feel grown up) it is not overly used. Curses to that pesky FPPT haha!

    • Haha! Thanks! Goodness, if you’re too old, then what must I be? (Though obviously I’m only 21!) The first and last thirds of this were pretty good, but that middle section nearly did for me. I never feel older than when I’m reading YA to be honest – it brings out the latent grim-faced granny in me…

  2. I am shocked you gave a first person present tense novel the time of day! A definite pass for me but your review is wonderful reading and gave me a good laugh. I’m tired of teenagers saving the world. How can our civilization rely on a demographic that sleeps until noon?

    • Ah, the wicked Professor didn’t reveal it was FPPT till after he’d conned me into getting the book! Thanks! Haha! I know! And if they’re all like Cassie they’ll be so busy smooching the end of the world will happen without them noticing…

  3. This is a fabulous review, FictionFan!! I have to admit, this one probably isn’t for me. But I do love the wit in your post, and I always give credit for authors who do try to draw in YA readers.

    • Haha! Thanks, Margot! No, I doubt many of my readers will be rushing out for this one! But it was pretty good overall even for me, and I’m sure would appeal a lot to people in the target age range.

  4. Oh dear, I do believe your standards are falling. When I got to the part where you wrote: “oddly I was so much happier when we got back to kids shooting each other again” I laughed out loud. Don’t think I’ll put this on anyone’s list. 😀

    • Oh, I was so sure you’d be rushing out for this one too! Haha! It did make me question my own reaction – at what age does shooting become preferable to teenage smooching? Wherever that line is, it seems I’ve crossed it… 😉

  5. *laughs* Stellar review, FEF! I’m glad to see that you weren’t sure about the 4th wave as well. It never did make too much sense to me. I fear the sequel doesn’t help the storyline improve at all either.

    You did a nice ripio, I fear. But look here: what’s the difference between Cassie in a tub and Darby in a tub? Yucketh to both!

    So…about Ringer…did you know she was Asian? I can’t remember if Rick said that in the first book or not.

    And Rick looks mostly cool, I’m sure you’ll agree. But…well, I won’t say it.

    • *laughs* Glad you enjoyed it, C-W-W! Nope, I can’t work out the 4th wave at all. Why did they train the kids up? And did we ever actually find out what the 5th wave is? I fear I am as befuddled as Shnoddy on a bad day! (You mentioned the sequel again… *glowers*)

      About ten years! It wasn’t so much that she was in the bathtub as that Evan was creeping about the room at the time and she was admiring his posterior! Yeuch! Yucketh! And double yucketh!! *gags*

      No! I don’t think he did say that. But, since I’m not going to read the sequels (!), you must tell me who Cassie ends up with…

      Ah, but who knows what those shades are hiding! But… what? What?? WHAT???

      • Well, I was told that the kids won’t try to rebel–’cause there so young. So, that must be his reason. I totally forget about the 5th Wave! When asked, you should just say: That’s the name of the book. It sounds cool, at least. (Why are you so interested in that? Zombie’s in it! *gags* Of course, you’d like him!)

        *laughing* They’re weird…I know. But that’s love for you!

        I know! Shocked me to the bones when he mentioned it in the sequel. Well…who do you suppose she ends up with?

        Well, his chin.

        • But I don’t understand why they didn’t just kill them – except I admit that would have made the book kinda short. (I’m not!!! I only found Zombie attractive in comparison to Evan – hardly a ringing endorsement! Rafa can sleep soundly…)

          Lust, not love, I fear! Well, on Cassie’s side anyway. And Evan’s just a creep…

          I’m hoping the 5th wave is successful and they’re all annihilated. *wishful face*

          *chuckles* His Kirk Douglas, you mean?

  6. Well that was a surprise review! I’m glad you enjoyed it although I’m intrigued what constitutes a sex scene with no sex? Glad these are the dumbest aliens ever and the story doesn’t stand up to inspection but maybe Evan you?? 😆

  7. Hard to tell what catches on big with YA readers. Or adult readers who enjoy YA fare, such as the Hunger Games and Divergent series. Sounds ok, but lots of disbelief.

    • I know – I oftern wonder why books become blockbusters. It doesn’t always mean they’re the best books. This one was pretty good though, and I’ve got nothing to compare it with since I haven’t read any of the other huge YA series.

  8. I’m fairly sure The 5th Wave won’t be to my taste (I’m not the target audience, so the author won’t care), but this was a great review, entertaining and funny. I love the idea of washing a heroine’s potty mouth out with soap and water.

    • Haha! Thanks, Rose! I always feel about twenty years older when I read YA – I turn into my own grandmother, tut-tutting about teenagers swearing. Which if memory serves me right my own generation was pretty good at too… 😉

  9. I can’t read that book, I fear. Or any sticky songs about little girls. I have two (grownup) girls and while they were (and are) outstanding girls and women, I never found it necessary to sing that song to them (or to anyone else). And they would thank me if they were to read this. 😀

    • Well, people are always grateful when I don’t sing, whatever song it is! Haha! It’s not the most feminist of messages, I agree, but then neither is a 16-year-old girl with a big gun – I hope! 😉

  10. I probably read much more YA fiction than you, but it does have to be internally consistent and make sense, so I don’t think I’ll be reading this one. It was worth Yancey writing the book though, since it provoked your review. 🙂

    • I wondered if you might already have read this one – it’s huger in America than here I think, but it’s pretty big here too, I think. Haha! I admit – I enjoyed writing the review! 😀

  11. One of my guiltiest pleasures in life is reading teen dystopia. Maybe I shouldn’t admit that out loud. They are just so convinced that they CAN save the world. And they always choose the most inappropriate times to develop an all encompassing crush. And they are always so surprised to learn that they are part of a horrible regime. Somehow, I find the more implausible the scenario the better. A bowl of popcorn, a teen dystopia and a cheeky gin is a top night in.

    • Haha! It’s not the annihilation, death and gore that bothers me – it’s the crushes! “Oh, dear, my entire family has just been killed in horrible ways in front of my eyes, but never mind! Here’s a guy with a cute butt!”

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