Yes, this book is about aliens. WAIT, don’t run away yet! I was hesitant about THE 5TH WAVE at the beginning, too. Sci-fi isn’t really my thing, and my only experience with alien books is THE HOST by Stephenie Meyer. But Rick Yancey’s THE 5TH WAVE got great reviews on BookTube, so I gave it a try. And I’m so glad I did!
Aliens are attacking earth in waves. The first wave was an electromagnetic pulse that knocked out all power. Wave Two was an actual wave, a tsunami wave that wiped out the coasts. A plague killed 97 percent of the remaining survivors, making the third wave the deadliest yet. We meet our protagonist, Cassie, struggling to survive the fourth wave, known as Silencers, where the survivors are hunted down and picked off one at a time. Suspicion rules everyone, and no one can differentiate between aliens and humans. This paranoia infects everyone, including the readers, which is only one of the things that makes this book so fascinating.
Cassie is on her own, trying to survive the fourth wave, and she hasn’t seen a human in ages. She is searching for a way to retrieve her younger brother who she let slip through her fingers. When she meets Evan, a boy who rescues her from a Silencer attack, she thinks she may have found a way to get her brother back. But the lessons she has learned through the waves so far make her hesitate…maybe she’s safer alone, trusting no one.
This is a bare bones synopsis, similar to the one on the book jacket, because I don’t want to spoil the reading process for anyone. I will say that Cassie is not our only narrator, which surprised me when I first began the book. It turned out to be great, and readers get to see multiple angles of this huge story. My favorite sections, however, did belong to Cassie. She is a great protagonist and acts how I hope I would act in the face of an alien invasion. She’s tough when she needs to be, but she is scared much of the time. She wants to trust people but is not blindly faithful to anyone. She hates being alone but realizes it might be safest that way. And she will do anything to get her brother back.
Like I said, this cast is bigger than the book jacket blurb lets on, but they are all linked in one way or another (similar to the way the Lunar Chronicles character threads are woven together). Cassie’s first section, I’ll admit, is a little slow because it provides a lot of world building and background on the first four waves. The book picks up smack in the middle of wave 4, and everyone is holding their breath, waiting for the 5th. But once that world building is done, there is a ton of action to keep you flipping pages, don’t worry! The book did remind me a bit of THE HOST, since it’s the only other alien-ish book I’ve read, but THE 5TH WAVE would totally win in a Hunger Games-style battle to the book-death. Well-rounded characters, more action-packed plot, and a better book cover. (Seriously, it’s AWESOME.)
Pick up THE 5TH WAVE even if you’re hesitant about sci-fi. Yancey is a great writer and makes you feel the paranoia along with the characters. Just don’t go walking outside at night after finishing the book…you’ll jump at every sound! (Not that this happened to me or anything…)