The Fifth Wave, a Non-Spoiler Review

I’d like to thank Meredith Waugh for recommending this book to me.

The title is cooler than the book itself, and the book’s still pretty cool.

I was so excited to read this book. More excited than a silly rabbit about to steal some trix yogurt. According to Goodreads, this book was going to be the next Hunger Games, and in many ways it was (stupid love triangle, written in first person present tense, etc.). I liked The Fifth Wave, but it wasn’t nearly good as I wanted it to be.

The characters could probably have been written a bit more likable than they were. I liked Cassie at first, but once Evan came along, she annoyed the hell out of me. She complained a lot before Evan, but at least then, she did it humorously. Once Evan came along, she continually complained about stupid things like, “Why is Evan so perfect?!” and “Why are attractive guys suddenly interested in me?” and not the things you’d expect, like you know, the giant alien invasion that killed seven billion people.  The only redeeming quality of Cassie was her determination to reunite with her brother Sammy. Sammy’s a cool kid.

Caution: Very slight spoilers for the next two paragraphs. Read at your own risk. 

I think the biggest flaw in this book was the romance. I honestly think Rick Yancey should be banned from writing romantic subplots, because he did a horrible job in this book. The first love interest was Evan: this super creepy guy who watches her without her knowing and reads her diary while she’s sleeping. Oh, and he may or may not be an alien in disguise (he is). Cassie lets him off the hook for this though, because he’s hot. Cassie constantly talks about his chocolate brown eyes or his beautiful pecs (her words, not mine), and this annoyed me to no end. Do teenage girls really think like Cassie does? I sincerely hope not.

As their relationship grew I became even more frustrated with Cassie because Evan was clearly a Silencer. I think the section from Evan’s POV should have been taken out, because 1: It didn’t add much to the story, 2: It would have added more suspense for the reader, who would be wondering along with Cassie, “Is he or is he not an alien?” instead of being frustrated at Cassie for not realizing it sooner, and 3: It was slightly unrealistic that the alien’s voice was written exactly like Cassie and Zombie’s. Spoilers end now.

Cassie’s next love interest (not so much in this book, but you can just tell there’ll be a huge annoying love triangle in the sequel) is code-named Zombie. He has another name, but that would be a slight spoiler, so I won’t mention it. Zombie is smart, frequently complimented on his good looks and athletic body, loyal, caring, and trustworthy. Flaws? He has none. At least none that I noticed or that affected the plot in any way. These characters are both boring to read about and they don’t exist in real life (except in my case, that is). It was the circumstances surrounding Zombie that kept me interested, not Zombie himself.

Also, Zombie is a stupid name. Even if it’s a code name.

It sounds like I hate this book, but I don’t. Despite the two-dimensional love interests, this book wasn’t bad. The idea behind the fourth and fifth waves were clever and well done. The book really hit home on the “You can’t trust anyone,” theme. That opening scene with the crucifix soldier was great.

While the prose annoyed me at times, it was easy to read and it hooked me in from the very beginning.

The humor worked about 50% of the time. Half the time it had me laughing, half the time it felt forced, and it kept ruining the tone of the book. The most annoying attempts at humor were when Cassie was talking about everyone dying in waves. When I read this, I yelled—no, I screamed at the book: “CASSIE, OVER 97% OF THE POPULATION DIED. IF YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE STUPID JOKES ABOUT IT, AT LEAST MAKE THEM FUNNY!” and then I was kicked out of the movie theater while the audience thanked the guards escorting me out.

Some other notes:

  • I think the sections from Evan’s and Sammy’s POVs could easily have been taken out and the plot wouldn’t have been affected at all.
  • “My name is Kenny.” That was a nice line.
  • I don’t mind swearing in YA fiction (in fact, I prefer it; it adds more realism to the characters and whatnot), but if your novel’s going to have it, you have to be consistent. Cassie says drops an f-bomb on a certain important character, but for the rest of the book characters constantly use abbreviations or say “Eff you,” instead. It comes across as cheesy and unrealistic, but it would have been more understandable if you knew the author was trying to keep it appropriate for a certain age group. But because of the Cassie scene mentioned four lines above, you know that’s not the case. Maybe Yancey’s editor told him, “Okay, you’re only allowed to say the f-word once, so save it for the end.”
  • Ringer’s character, “The extremely tough girl who doesn’t take shit from anyone,” is overdone. Sure, these characters are good role models, but I see them everywhere nowadays. It’s getting tiresome. Give the girl a flaw or two; it’ll make her more interesting.
  • Whose idea was it to have seven year old kids training for battle?

Overall Rating: 3/5. Despite some flaws, it was an interesting read with a really good twist 300ish pages in. It deserves an extra star just for Cassie’s dad.

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4 Replies to “The Fifth Wave, a Non-Spoiler Review”

  1. Hmm. I’ve heard a lot about this book, and most of it hype. Several people I respect have called it pretty bad, and from what you said here, I’m inclined to agree with them. I think the end of the world is lovely and all, but perhaps we should stop marketing things as “the next Hunger Games”.

    1. I agree. It gets old. Although it’s a good marketing technique. Sorry for the late reply, by the way.

      The book wasn’t that bad though; I just put a lot of focus on the negatives in this review. I’d still be willing to read the next book.

  2. Slapping the “The next [Hunger Games, Twilight, Harry Potter, et al.]” label on every YA novel is a bit ridiculous. The thing with The Fifth Wave is – it might ACTUALLY be the next Big Thing in YA Literature. It was that good. (Of course, this is coming from a girl that gave The Fifth Wave 10 stars on a scale of 1-5 and is such a sucker for well-written novels that any faults fly right past her head . 😉 )

    I read it at the start of the summer, and the day it took me to devour it was a day very well spent. And then I went to the library and checked out the Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey – which, despite my obvious bias, will make you fall in love with Rick Yancey, even if The Fifth Wave fell short for you.

    I’m sure that if I would give The Fifth Wave a careful re-read (instead of claiming it a Godsent work of art on the first page and devouring it maniacally in one sitting), I’d agree on a lot of your points! :p

    Anyway, I absolutely loved reading your review, Matthew; you’re very entertaining! 😀

    1. Yeah, I could see how The Fifth Wave could be the next big thing—There’s lots of dead people, there’s a love triangle being set up and the writing’s addictive—I bet it’ll be made into a movie soon. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

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