Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Posted February 10, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick YanceyThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Series: The Fifth Wave #1
Published by Putnam Juvenile on May 7th, 2013
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 457
Format: Hardcover
Source: Gifted

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

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.

1 Stars

WARNING: This review contains spoilers. I’ve hidden the big ones. Proceed at your own risk.

I think The 5th Wave was the most hyped up non-sequel book of 2013. In my opinion, at least, it definitely was. (Well there’s These Broken Stars too, but I think The 5th Wave was bigger.) As I am writing this, my friend average on Goodreads is 4.04. I… how… I… no.


The hype train can kindly go fuck itself and get the hell out of my life forever and always.

As you may have noticed by now, and by my rating, I am not a fan. And it wasn’t even that I had majorly high expectations. No. I made a conscious decision not to pick this up right after its release. I waited and waited. By the time it became our January book club pick, I remembered almost nothing about this book. Except, of course, that almost everyone rated it with four or five stars. Which usually would be a pretty safe indicator that I would like it too. I mean, we’re not talking about four or five ratings here – I just counted, and that’s 70 ratings. I feel deceived. *sobs*

So needless to say, I thought this would be good. Aside from all the high ratings, it’s science fiction! There’s aliens! The apocalypse! They’ve almost won and conquered the Earth! This should be awesome! It’s like War of the Worlds! But no. For me, it definitely wasn’t. This book never even reached 3 star territory for me. It just didn’t. Let’s do this review with a breakdown, interview style.


Did you like the writing?

Good to cover this first – uh, no. It takes a special kind of gift to make an apocalypse, aliens taking over and annihilating the human race, boring. I was bored. I can’t even pin-point what it was exactly but the writing was extremely bland to me. I didn’t feel any connection to the characters. And then they started switching points of view, there was also pretty much no contrast. First person, where the characters sound identical. Bad sign. If I stopped reading halfway through a POV section and later picked it back up, I had to double check which character was speaking. That bad. Not only that, but the boringness almost put me into a reading slump. I had no desire to continue to read. The only reason I pushed through is because this was a book club book.

But what about the plot, Debby? I mean, it’s an alien apocalypse. That’s got to have caught your attention.

Caught it and lost it again very quickly. Look, I’m all for aliens taking over the universe, but again, it just became so. boring. The beginning was the best part. I enjoyed seeing through Cassie’s eyes what happened in the first four waves. It was a bit creepy, it was dark. Hey, here’s an idea? Why couldn’t we have had the book set in that time? Watch the first four waves happen in real time? Because honestly I would have been all over that shit. Now, it’s just Cassie. Alone in the world. Looking for her brother, Sam. But the action and suspense and, even, dare I say it, HORROR that I was looking for was almost eliminated entirely due to the asdfjkl;asdjfkl;-worthy romance. But we’ll get to that. On the other hand, there’s Ben or, as he goes by his nickname, Zombie. He gets caught up in a sect that’s being trained to fight back against the invasion. But it all moves so. terribly. slowly. This added to my boredom and lack of desire to read. You’d think there would be this pressing suspense that would keep me on the edge of my seat, but no. There never really was.


Okay, so what’s up? Why you hatin’ on the romance?

How is nobody else hating on the romance, to be honest? It’s taken straight out of a paranormal romance book and I cannot bring myself to care. Not only is it pretty much devoid of all chemistry, it frustrated me to no end. First off, Evan is a creepy little fucker who feels the need to stand outside Cassie’s door constantly. When she tells him to go away, he ignores her. He is a fucking stalker, reaching Edward-levels of stalkage. Cassie infuriatingly ogles him even though, with the end of the world, she should have other priorities. Then she has mood swings that drove me up the wall and made no freaking sense at all.

What? We weren’t even takling about that! And why would you want to go with me, Evan? Since you think he’s dead?”
“I just don’t want you to be dead, Cassie.”
That does it.
I hurl my deer meat at his head. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
How… What… HUH?!?

But fair enough, Cassie pretty quickly realizes that something is off about Evan. She tiptoes around the idea that View Spoiler » Just, you know, for 300 pages. It only took about 10 pages for me to figure it out, but okay. While she is suspicious of him, she narrates the ten thousand questions she wants to ask him, but never asks them. Even when things start getting revealed, she continues that and UGH CAN YOU NOT.


Meanwhile, Evan is nursing her back to health, and THAT LITTLE SHIT keeps telling her that she wouldn’t survive without him. Literally. Literally he tells her that. WOW. I LOVE BEING TOLD I’M HELPLESS. THAT’S THE FUCKING DREAM. She never even says anything back to that either. (And yes, I know she’s injured at the time.) No, only a paragraph later she again muses about how fucking beautiful he looks. Even though by this time she knows View Spoiler » At times, Yancey attempts to make Cassie look like she’s strong and independent, but then the romance comes in and paints her as a completely useless human being and any chance I had at liking her was eliminated.


Did it at least pick up in the end?

Uhhh, not really. To be honest, the plot is the only thing that kept me reading, because I did want to know where the aliens came from and what their plan and motivation was. (Also I’d already wasted four reading days, and I did not feel like giving this a DNF by that point.) When the reveals started happening I just started headdesking. It was lame. View Spoiler »


Not only that, the lame ass attempt at a last action sequence was filled with plot holes. Cassie, a sixteen year old, pretends to be TWELVE to get into Camp Haven. Who the fuck would buy that? Then, apparently, after they insert the implant — “The incision is very small. She’ll probably seal it with glue.” — that sounds super sanitary. Then with a fade to black move, Cassie magically gets into the ventilation system — without a screwdriver or anything. Ugh, I was just paying attention to all these little details and plot holes because I was entirely unamused by this over-hyped novel.

Summing Up:

Honestly I would have been better off reading a two paragraph plot summary on a Wikipedia page or something. That was the only remotely interesting thing, and it would have saved me 4 reading days. I could have skipped the bland characters, boring as hell writing, and irksome romance. I would have been a happy bunny. But no. The hype train had me completely deceived. No amount of money in the world could get me to pick up the sequel at this point, especially knowing that there is love triangle approaching, if not a love-square. This paranormal romance that’s disguising itself as a high-stakes frightening alien apocalypse book is not fooling me. Nope.

GIF it to me straight!


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14 responses to “Book Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

  1. Hahaha oh Debby. I personally LOVED this one, but when it comes to sci-fi, I love almost anything. Plus, since I’m a contemporary girl, I prefer all the sci-fi/fantasy/etc. elements to be toned down. So what was boring for you was fine for me. I’m sorry you hated the book so much, but I did have a good laugh while reading your review.

    • Yeah, I get the feeling that this one works better for people who aren’t into really hardcore sci-fi. The big sci-fi fans will be disappointed, because it definitely is watered down, even though it lures you in with promises that it would be like War of the Worlds. *sigh* Glad I could provide the lols xD

  2. I skimmed your review, because I might decide to give this a chance on day and didn’t want to read any spoilers.

    But I had to comment on your use of Gifs – as always, pure perfection! Love that movie and from what I read, you placed them with expertise 😀

  3. I think it’s hilarious that the complete book club hated this book, haha. Shows that we are a great group together with the same thoughts! I was also thinking that this book might have been so much better if it was set in the actual waves. I’d love to see the first destruction after wave 1 or how everyone suffers when the virus hits. The romance was just.. ugh. NO. NO. NO. I hated her, I hated him, there was no chemistry and again NO. So, you are not alone.

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with a review more! I remember reading this one when it first came out and being a total black sheep because everyone else loved it and here I am completely hating it. “It only took about 10 pages for me to figure it out, but okay.” THIS THIS THIS. Oh my gosh, I could not believe THAT was the romance everyone was crazy about. It was so awkward and lame. Plus the book itself was crazy boring for a good portion. Great review!

    Here is mine if you want to check it out:

    • Oh man, I can’t imagine how intimidating it must have been to dislike it while everyone was raving. I feel okay about it now. Lots of people who have read it the past couple months have actually been disliking it as well. I get the feeling a looooooot of this book’s success hinged on the hype.

  5. Joanna W.

    I was never to keen on reading The 5th Wave. Something about aliens seems close to home, possibly real–just like ghosts. I tend to stay away from books that have the word, ghost in the synopsis. However, I’ve been hearing mostly great reviews for The 5th Wave and have been recently feeling like I might be missing something. But then I saw your blog post, now I feel like I can put it on a long back burner, if ever.

  6. WHOA. I haven’t seen anyone react to The 5th Wave as strongly as this. Is it awful to say that I actually appreciate this review? Because I do. I think you presented another reader point of view, and it’s done clearly and concisely. I wasn’t particularly excited to pick up this novel, and after reading your review, I’m a little bit warier too.

  7. Bri

    I tried to read this book SEVERAL times. I actually only read the first part of your review because I want to try and read it again sometime. But yeah, every time I read it… I am bored. -.-

  8. I didn’t think this one warranted the hype either. I was liking the beginning when the waves were being described but then after that and when the romance came in i just did not like it anymore…even more so when it went to the kid military training.

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  10. Alejandra

    Finally someone that agrees that this book was overly hyped up! I’m a huge reader and with everyone saying it was great a picked it up thinking it would be good but it just flatlined. I couldn’t connect with the characters, development wasn’t there, and it just seemed to have no plot and the romance was just horribly done and basically not there. Yet everyone loves this book. It took me forever to make it through this book