The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

the-fifth-waveBibliographic Information:

  • Publisher, Date: P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)
  • Edition: First
  • Description: 457 pages; 23 cm         
  • Interest Level:  YA
  • Summary: 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. 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. Retrieved at
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16241-1
  • Subjects:
    • Extraterrestrial Life – Fiction
    • Survival Skills – Fiction
    • War – Fiction

Reader’s Annotation: They say that the world has ended, that the war has been lost.  But as long as I’m alive and he’s alive, the war will never end.

Book Trailer(s):

  1. First Wave:
  2. Second Wave:
  3. Third Wave:
  4. Fourth Wave:

Plot Summary:  Cassie’s life was so ordinary that she didn’t realize how wonderful it was until it was all gone.  When the aliens came and the inevitable attack started the end came like a rock rolling downhill; unstoppable and increasing in speed as it nears the end.  There were four waves of attack:  the first wave took their electricity; the second caused massive tectonic movements with its accompanying earthquakes and tidal waves; the third wave was disease; and the fourth wave in which humans were hunted by unseen silent alien killers.  Cassie and her little brother survived all of them but were separated. Now she is alone and desperate to rescue him from what she now knows are aliens masquerading as humans.  Alone in a dangerous world, she is trying to get to him and save him.  The only question is whether that is even possible in a world where anyone you meet might be the enemy and the enemy is everywhere.

Critical Evaluation:  Some writers are really good at creating believable characters that are compelling and keep the reader involved in the story regardless of the quality of the story.  Some writers create great stories but populate them with characters lacking in dimension and interest.  Yancy has managed to do the first.  He has created a lovely cast of characters almost each of which stands out as an individual person often fully developed and genuine.  You like Cassie; she is not a hero or particularly brave but she is determined and very human.  She is also a complete survivor who will do anything she can to stay alive at least long enough to find and rescue her brother who is the last remaining member of her family.  Evan, who loves her, is an alien inhabiting a human body struggling with who he is and what his place in this world is.  He has a duty but he discovers to his despair he also has a heart and it belongs to Cassie.  The story itself is not unique nor is it well thought out in certain places.  For example, in a world being invaded by aliens who are the only ones with technology that still functions, the siting of a drone over a survivors camp followed by the arrival of a ‘rescue’ military force with a school bus for the kids, did not seem to be suspicious to the military type survivors of the camp.  That is not logical and it’s is poor story construction.  Despite this failing, the book and the story is good and worth the readers time.

Author’s Brief Bio:  Rick is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.  Since then he has launched two critically acclaimed series: The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, for young readers, and The Highly Effective Detective, for adults. Both books are set in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Rick lived for ten years before returning to Florida.  Rick lives with his wife, Sandy, his three sons, two dogs and one lizard.  Retrieved from

Genre Designation: Dystopian Science Fiction

Possible Curriculum Links:

  • History & political development

Book Talk Ideas:  What would you do if the power just died?

Materials Relating to Potential Challenges:


Why this book was selected.  I was required to read it for a course and thought it was good.


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