The 5th Wave by Richard Yancey

May 30, 2013

On a day like any other day, the Others arrived. Their mothership lit up the sky and the human race was forever changed. The Others came in waves taking away electricity, bringing upon the world a plague, sending out evil drones to take care of the survivors, and now, they have taken on the form of humans. The idea of trust (or lack thereof) and the depths that humans will reach to survive are constantly replayed over and over through the actions of the multiple protagonists that Yancey introduces in the story. We meet the main protagonist, Cassiopeia “Cassie” Sullivan, when she is at her lowest point, alone in the woods for an extended period of time replaying the last day she saw her family and the promise she made to find her little brother, Sammy. Cassie is smart, and tough, and not the girl she used to be before the invasion. She is willing to kill and fight for her life, and the only thing that keeps her going is the idea of being reunited with her brother. Cassie also knows that she has to stay isolated because she cannot trust that the people she may meet on the road to her brother are human. Cassie’s mind starts to disintegrate as she becomes further and further removed from humanity and the life she once lived. All that changes, however, when she is rescued by Evan Walker, a mysterious farm boy with a special smile who only wants to help her get well enough to find her brother. Evan is charming and smart, but there is something about him Cassie cannot shake. He is too perfect, too sweet, and he knows all the right answers to her questions. Cassie has to put all of that doubt aside, though, because Evan is her only hope of finding her brother and keeping her promise. Together these two young adults and their choices could be the savior or destruction of humanity. As long as they can stop the 5th wave . . .

This is by far and away the best book I have read all year. Rick Yancey creates just the right amount of tension and despair to capture readers and never let them go. The characters define this story, and while an alien invasion is what catapults the action, the aliens take a back seat. It is the characters—Cassie, Evan, Sammy, Zombie—and their reactions to the invasion that really spoke to me. They all struggle internally with their new lives and the new people they have become.

Reviewed by Jennifer R.
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