“They know how we think. They know how to kill us. They’ve taken everything worth living for. Now they’ve come to take the things worth dying for.”
The 5th Wave is an exciting post apocalyptic young adult novel about teens trying to survive an alien attack. The novel begins after the fourth wave of alien attacks. Much of the Earth’s population has been decimated. Cassie finds herself alone in the woods desperately trying to avoid Silencers, who are aliens in human bodies. But she also made a promise to rescue her little brother, who was taken to a military base on a school bus. She later meets Evan, another teen survivor, who seems too good to be true. She struggles to trust him as they try to come up with a plan to help her brother. The audience also follows Zombie, a boy who went to Cassie’s school and is being trained by the military to combat the alien attacks.
What I really liked about this book was that it was different from many of the other apocalyptic YA novels. It dealt with aliens instead of zombies or vampires and the plot, while bleak, was not overly depressing. One of the main themes was hope and facing your problems instead of running from them. All of the characters have very strong family ties, and are trying to cope with the loss of their loved ones.
This is definitely a book for older or emotionally mature teens. There isn’t any gore or overly graphic scenes, but there is a lot of death. The aliens are trying to cleanse the planet of people, and billions of people are wiped out in the first waves of killing. The main characters are the remaining survivors and have lost most of their families. The characters are also forced to dispose of the remains of their peers.
The narration alternates between the different characters. Each voice is distinct and it is easy to tell who is narrating. Cassie, who narrates a good portion of the book, has a wonderful and sarcastic voice, showing what a strong and independent person she is. Her sarcastic tone and brutal honesty bring humor to a serious topic. I loved the relationship between Cassie and Evan, who is a survivor that rescues her. The reader can tell how much they care about each other and how much Cassie struggles to trust him. There aren’t any sex scenes and while the relationship is intense and romantic, it is also very innocent. The dialogue they have together is funny but they are also learning to share their traumatic experiences and become closer by doing so.
One of the great things about this book is how much power the teen characters have. Many of them were living alone and taking care of themselves while others are forming a military force and being trained to combat the alien enemy. The characters make all major decisions when it comes to their lives and the war instead of having to depend on adults. Cassie especially finds flaws in her father’s decisions and realizes that she is intelligent enough to make decisions that will help her family survive.
The writing is reminiscent of Stephen King and adults as well as teens will enjoy it.