The 5th Wave | Rick Yancey | Book Review

There is something about alien invasion that I find so utterly terrifying, yet so compelling. When I first heard about The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, I knew without a doubt that I had to read it. Previously, I had read Yancey’s Monstrumologist books and found myself utterly impressed with his writing style – pacing and plot were not sacrificed for syntax. Yancey’s science fiction novel absolutely lived up to the expectations I held for it – namely that it would be strongly written, make me think, and have me invested in the characters.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey | Good Books And Good Wine

The Others have attacked humanity through different waves. The first wave of attacks leaves people without use of electricity. The second wave results in coastal destruction. The third wave brings plague. The fourth wave involves the Others, the aliens, hunting the last specks of humanity. So, what does the fifth wave of attack have in store? Yancey’s plot weaves loss, fear, and questions of what comprises humanity in an epic, pulsating story. Told through a variety of point of views, The 5th Wave is about a girl, Cassie Sullivan, who decides to save her brother Sammy despite the insurmountable odds against her. Along the way, she meets Evan Walker who is a bit of a mysterious loner dude, but he just may be Cassie’s only shot at rescuing Sammy. 

Cassie Sullivan is hardcore. With an M-16 she follows the mantra, if something is shooting at you, shoot back. She was not always that way though. Before the invasion, Cassie was a frizzy haired girl that no one noticed. Yet, she adapts to her new life. Straight up, Cassie is incredibly compelling. I rooted for her to come out okay and unscathed for the whole of the book. I loved that she used her brains before she uses her M-16. I love that Yancey paints an interesting image of a girl who is willing to trust and fight to live, when she has every reason not to. The 5th Wave is an epic book with an epic main character.

Yancey does not skimp on secondary characterization, either. Evan Walker, for example is characterized as a ‘Noticer’ and this is often repeated throughout The 5th Wave, and backed up with example. Then there is Zombie, a boy who has several point of view chapters and finds himself conscripted, along with other children, to wield weapons and hunt the Others, as though they were adults. Zombie is given a whole backstory and he spends much of the book trying to rectify an awful mistake he made during the invasion. Sammy, Cassie’s brother, is given a point of view section as well. I found it interesting, seeing the invasion from the eyes of a very young child. As a reader, I could not help but hope that Sammy would retain his innocence and not be changed. But of course, that is a lot to ask.

The world built in The 5th Wave is fascinating – what happens during an alien invasion? What happens when the aliens are able to inhabit human bodies? It’s an interesting question that the book postulates and one that allows for a world similar to ours but with key differences. For example, cars no longer work and so, Cassie must travel on foot along lonely highways with no company but abandoned automobiles. It’s a bit terrifying, the thought of our world without people and technology. I also have to admit that The 5th Wave reminded me a lot of The Host by Stephanie Meyer, in the way that the Others invade and take over, only The 5th Wave is better. Stylistically, I much preferred Yancey’s view of hostile takeover to Meyer’s.

What I really liked about The 5th Wave is that it does feel literary without sacrificing pace. I love that Yancey shows one can write an intelligent book that ponders deeper questions and not be boring. The 5th Wave is very well-written. It asks questions such as ‘what makes us human?’ and ‘is survival worth it when all hope is lost?’. This is a book that made me think while entertaining me. I found myself tempted to dog ear a few pages as I went along, as the writing is invigorating. For example, there’s a section where Cassie is questioning the existence of God to Evan. It’s not overwritten, yet is still a bit philosophical.

I think if you are looking to be blown away by a science fiction book but have been apprehensive about trying them, give The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey a shot. It is exciting. It is emotional. It is compelling. It is smart. There’s a lot of hype for The 5th Wave and honestly, that hype is not undeserved. Recommended for readers looking for their next young adult fix.

Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine

Other reviews of The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey:

The Readventurer – “This book is damn near perfect in so many ways
Bibliosaurus Text – “It’s an apocalyptic alien-fest
The Page Turner – “an addictive, fast-paced, action packed read

Books by Rick Yancey:
The Monstrumologist
The Curse Of The Wendigo

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Will read!! I’ve read one other book by Rick Yancey, and was extremely impressed. I haven’t read The Monstromologist, but I’ve heard amazing things about it as well. I’ve been waiting for a good alien book! The cover is also gorgeous. I can’t keep my eyes off it! Love your review

  2. Your review intrigues me so much, April! I’ve been seeing way too many positive reviews for The 5th Wave that it’s amazing I’ve been able to hold out this long without pre-ordering it. I’m so glad it worked out for you as well. Cassie does sound like the perfect MC for the book – and I think it’s great how Rick Yancey was able to give even secondary characters an entire backstory. Like you, I’m also really fascinated by alien invasions, but a book that’s better than The Host has GOT to be mind-blowing.

    Great review!

  3. This book really kind of freaked me out (in such a good way but also in a thank-god-we-haven’t-been-invaded-because-we’re-screwed-if-it-ever-happens way!). Loved seeing the story unfold and Cassie was a fantastic protagonist! Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  4. This is the first I’m hearing of this book, and it definitely sounds interesting. Adding it to my tbr.

  5. I just finished The Monstrumologist, and I now want every single book Rick Yancey has ever written. 😛 I cannot wait to read The 5th Wave, and I’m so happy that you loved it! Wonderful review!

  6. I’ve had Yancey’s The Monstrumologist series on my TBR list for quite sometime and I keep on hearing amazing things about his work. This is definitely getting added to the TOP of my list, though. I’ve really been craving some good sci-fi of late and I think The 5th Wave will fit the bill. What I really like most about the genre is its ability to get the reader to question those key things — like what makes us human or do we rely too much on technology — smart sci-fi is the only REAL sci-fi (I think!). Plus, the thought of all those chilling waves of destruction brought about through the invasion is enough to make me a doomsday prepper for reals! I am super stoked for this one!

  7. Yours is the first rave review I’ve read of this book and I’m so glad. I really enjoy Yancey, and was surprised at so many neutral or negative reviews of this one. I’m keeping it on my list. Thanks!

  8. I swear, The 5th Wave is one of my most anticipated reads of 2013. I am so insanely stoked that I will be meeting the author in May!! Your review is great and rekindles my ongoing excitement. 🙂

  9. What an awesome review! I’d already been dying to read this one, but I’m even more excited now. I’m glad to hear that there’s not only a strong main character, but great secondary characters as well.

  10. I will probably end up reading this, but I was wondering if you had heard the criticisms of Yancey straight up lifting dialogue from the movie Full Metal Jacket and using it in here. I have to admit, hearing that disappointed me and may tarnish my reading, though I’m sure I’ll enjoy it nonetheless.

  11. I’ve been interested in this book, but have heard mixed reviews so I was unsure of it until now. I’m for alien invasions — that terrify me too — but what really sold me was hearing that it had a literary feel without that interferring with the pace. Pace is probably the most important thing to me (or maybe connecting with the MC and character development), so if there are pace problems I usually end up not enjoying the book.

    Great review!

  12. I definitely want to read this one! Cassie sounds like an awesome main character and I love that it has a literary feel to it. I’ve only read a few alien based books so I’m looking forward to the change of pace.

  13. Every review I see of this book makes my heart race, and I get itchy to get a hold of this book. I love that you talked about it being literary and smart but also fast paced and engaging. THAT is something I want to experience.

  14. So often I feel like in your reviews there’s this one phrase you’ll say that has me chomping at the bit to read my own copy. Here it’s definitely “it does feel literary without sacrificing pace.” By reading more YA fiction these days, I do tend to miss more literary and thought-provoking fiction, so it always makes me happy to hear that certain YA books are more literary. Alien invasions are definitely scary subject matters for me, but I am intrigued to see how Yancey addresses this issue. Wonderful review. I can’t wait to read this (and also Yancey’s Monstrumologist series)!

  15. I just finished it this morning, and man, is it awesome. Seriously, the best alien book I’ve ever read.

    I really liked the hope and despair were so close to each and I was feeling both right along with the characters. I really don’t know that I’d be able to keep going.
    Then again, I wouldn’t really have the option since, as a person living in a coastal city, I’d have been gone after the second wave 😛

  16. I am truly interested in reading The 5th Wave, and not just because of all of the hype and buzz that currently surrounds it. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi, honestly. But the premise of this one sounds too good to pass up! Plus, it’s been garnering such great reviews from people – and it sounds like the characters are worth reading about. I’d also be curious to see how everything plays out against the Others.

    (Random, but I’m also interested in reading The Host. My sister read it and LOVED it, so I’m thinking I might have to read it too!)

  17. Oh my goodness I have been hearing fantastic things about this book, and I love alien shit. Not literally… but yay aliens!!! I have to say I’m even more interested now because you compare it to The Host. I loved The Host, its one of my fav of all times books, so if this is better, I definitely need to have it. Cannot wait till this comes out. 🙂


  1. […] just found out about this book at Good Books and Good Wine (check out April’s review here!), and it looks awesome. That is […]

  2. […] April at Good Books Good Wine: “What I really liked about The 5th Wave is that it does feel literary without sacrificing pace. I love that Yancey shows one can write an intelligent book that ponders deeper questions and not be boring. The 5th Wave is very well-written. It asks questions such as ‘what makes us human?’ and ‘is survival worth it when all hope is lost?’. This is a book that made me think while entertaining me.” […]

  3. […] The 5th Wave from Good Books and Good Wine […]

  4. […] store is. Really, the suspense and heightened AHHHH SHOCK factor in this book is comparable toThe Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey, which I also […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: