The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – Book & Movie Review

January 17, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Features, Movie Reviews, Reviews

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – Book & Movie ReviewThe 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Published by Penguin Australia on May 7th 2013
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
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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. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. 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. To give up or to get up.

You know when you finish a book and it leaves you without an impression? That’s how I feel about The 5th Wave. It was actually quite a long and convoluted book, with many varying points of views (some completely unnecessary and which did not impact the story at all). But upon finishing, I didn’t get the answers I wanted, for why the alien invasion was occurring and why they’re just not killing the humans. I’m hoping that this will be answered in later books because it was a frustrating experience all round.

Cassie, the main character, made questionable decisions which made me facepalm. Why would you carry around a stupid teddy bear that you promised to bring back to your brother? It occurs late in the book to her that maybe that wasn’t the smartest idea after all. Even her little brother Sammy seemed to have more smarts than Cassie, being inducted into the army at 6 years old. Yes, he has to learn to shoot an M16 and follow orders at 6 years old (how can he even carry the thing?). Another thing that stretched the realms of believability.


The romance was also awkward and fast moving, with Evan being creepily obsessed with Cassie after saving her. While Cassie is running from her stalker-murderer, she decides to hole up with the first hot guy she sees instead of focusing on her mission. They spend some time together in a cabin, and all of a sudden he throws out the L word which took me off guard (is it just me or does this happen a LOT?). I also sense an impending love triangle in the later books.

The prose was in first person and awkward, with some of their internal thoughts italicised but others not. This felt really stunted and did not flow smoothly. Switching between chapters would sometimes change the character perspectives, but it doesn’t really tell you at the beginning of each chapter who the character is. You’ll just have to work it out for yourself, which I found jarring.

However, it wasn’t all bad. The aliens as streams of consciousness was fascinating, lying in wake and watching the human race until they could take over (but then why did they bother with the 5th Wave?!). The concept of staging 5 Waves to kill the human population in different ways was also interesting, and kept me reading until the end. But I was pretty frustrated about not having any of my questions answered.


While I liked the army action, the post-apocalyptic alien setting and wanted to know more about the aliens, not being able to connect to the characters made it difficult to care about them upon finishing the book. I felt completely apathetic upon finishing it and I’m hoping the movie is better.

Rating: 2 out of 5


Thanks Penguin Random House for the review copy of this book.

Movie Review: A Pleasant (Cheesy) Surprise


So the movie was better. I didn’t have high expectations after the book, but it surprisingly exceeded them, as cheesy as it was.

The plot and dual perspectives were more cohesive, interchanging the military sequences with Cassie’s survival out in the wilderness and getting to know Evan. It fixed up the pacing problems in the book and was thrilling and action-packed all the way through.

The wave sequences at the start of the movie had some pretty impressive special effects, with the aliens attacking the Earth swiftly and effectively. You could see how the human race started dropping off after electricity, disease, and natural disasters.

Chloe Grace Moretz made a great Cassie too, convincingly showing us just how scary it is to be the last one standing in your family. Lack of self preservation and survival skills aside, she conveys how she’s just a ‘normal’ teenage girl who’s just lost her family and wants to be reunited with her brother. As with the book, she does trust Evan a bit too quickly after telling us that no one can be trusted, and totally gets swayed by his good looks and pecs. BUT she’s just running with the source material, and I think the actress did a great job regardless.


Can we just talk about Alex Roe, who plays Evan Walker? I found him super creepy in the book, being overly attentive to Cassie after ‘saving’ her. But everything that Evan does can be forgiven in the movie because he’s so easy on the eyes and so freaking kickass. Although he’s a bit too perfect, his awesome superhuman powers, attentiveness and cheesy lines totally made me an Evan shipper. Also not sure if he had those powers in the book? Anyway…

The romance was a total cheese-fest, especially given some of the corny dialogue that the actors blurt out, like “I choose you”. In the book, some of the scenes are changed (for example, I don’t remember them kissing in the book) but are more palatable to the movie goer. It’s like everyone who survives the first 4 waves are only supermodels, with Evan maintaining a perfectly shaven 5 o’clock shadow and Cassie with her perfectly curled locks. No one needs to eat, go to toilet or take a bath in this movie which is hilarious, given the circumstances.

The love triangle seems to be emphasised in the movie too, with less of a relationship build up between Ben and Ringer. I was rolling my eyes during the face-off between the two love interests. My gosh it was so cheesy I could’ve died.

There were quite a few twists in the book, but during the movie they were made to be completely obvious, particularly during the military sequences. Seeing 5 year old Sammy and 8 year old Teacup donned in military gear and holding up guns was absolutely ridiculous, as expected. But the movie cuts down on a lot of their training time and dialogue, simply brushing over it to focus on the romance.


While the movie served up more cheese than a New York pizza, it was actually a great adaptation that was faithful to the book. It improves on aspects which the book stumbles upon and makes it enjoyable for the movie goers and fans of the series. Just don’t expect it to be the next Hunger Games.

Verdict: See it if you’re a fan.

Thanks to Dymocks Books and Penguin Teen Australia for the opportunity to see the movie! 

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Tiktok@happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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44 responses to “The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey – Book & Movie Review

  1. Trisha Ann

    I was planning to watch this so I can get in to the book right after. But with what you said about the latter, I will probably be facing just another Maze Runner story. I'm glad you liked the movie, Jean! I am looking forward to watch it 🙂

  2. Bound to Be Me

    When I first picked up this book, I really didn't like it and I thought it was similar to others I have read. But now that the movie is out, I want to try the book again before I watch the movie. There are so many mixed reviews on this book but I don't have high hopes that it will become my favorite. Thanks for the great review!

  3. I remember when the book came out and everyone was talking about how amazing it was. And then I read it, and I was ultimately disappointed. I had a lot of the same problems as you did, and to be honest I was more annoyed by the lack of answers than intrigued.

    I think I will see the movie! Even if it sounds like they really amped up the romance. Especially since the love triangle isn't really a love triangle in the books. T.T But it sounds like an entertaining movie that I could watch if I wasn't in the mood for something too heavy, haha XD

    Great reviews, lovely! <3
    My recent post Four Thoughts About Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

    • I know, it's so annoying that they built up this world of aliens and there weren't any answers at all? The movie actually was pretty decent, given my low expectations lol! I think you'll kind of like it Chiara XD Thanks hun!

  4. Hahah the line "While the movie served up more cheese than a New York pizza" made my DAY! That is hilarious! It seemed from the trailers that it would be heavy on the romance (kind of like Divergent movies have been) but I still think I'd probably give it a go. I think the only reason I felt emotions during the book was that my kid is named Sam (and we call him Sammy) and it upset me a lot when they got separated. Otherwise, it felt flat for me too. still haven't read the second one, because I was kind of apathetic about the first. It was okay. I didn't HATE it, but it was kind of long- especially with all the action, it could have and should have packed WAY more of a punch. FABULOUS reviews, Jeann! I think Val and I may go see the movie, so I am happy to know what I am getting myself into 😉

    OH- and the perfect grooming? Biggest pet peeve EVER of mine. It was the ONE thing in Mockingjay that irked me too- there was a scene where Katniss was in the hovercraft and she had legit makeup on- and not as Katniss, not like she was being filmed, just like they went too far with Jen in hair and makeup 😉 These kids should be filthy and smell like complete garbage!
    My recent post Review- I See Reality: Twelve Short Stories About Real Life

    • LOL Thanks Shannon, I just had to emphasise the cheese lol! It is a pretty romance driven film but you know what, the action sequences weren't actually too bad. Sam was actually quite cute and did a great job! Yeah, I have the second one on my shelf but I kind of want to read it to get it out of the way. I just found the way the book was written was awkward you know? HAHA YES this is the problem I have with so many teen flicks, there is NO WAY they look like that all the time. That's why I LOVE TWD because it portrays the apocalypse well.

  5. Ebony

    I definitely see where you're coming from with your review, Jeann! I finished this not long after 2014 started and really enjoyed it at the time, but I definitely see problems looking back now and have been hesitant to read the sequel ever since, but I thought the movie was pretty well-done and a solid adaptation and it has gotten me more pumped to read the sequel. Loved reading this, Jeann! 🙂
    My recent post Christmas/New Year’s, Cats & A Book Haul

  6. L M A O "everyone who survived the 4 waves were supermodels" I AM DEAD. That is hi~la~rious.

    I usually dislike watching a movie without having read the book, but danggg that book seems like it wouldn't leave an impression. I'll maybe rent the movie after a while and skip the book because it seems like there's more interesting things to read. 😛 Love the movie review though. That gif you picked is just smokin'.

    • Hahaha it's so true though! I would've said that in my video review XD Yeahh the book was really meh, but lots of people love it so I dunno. Alex Roe is kind of worth watching 😉

  7. sumlynnnguyen

    I grabbed a copy of The 5th Wave when it was really cheap on Book Outlet but I have to say it may not be a book for me. First, I tend to not enjoy books with many POVs to begin with (because more times than not there's going to be a necessary perspective). Second, I don't know how I feel about books with aliens. And third, I really dislike stream of consciousness in books (Faulkner's As I Lay Dying never settled well with me). But lol, despite all this I couldn't resist a cheap book. XD Anyway, happy to hear you enjoyed the movie a tiny bit more than the book, Jeann!
    My recent post Versatile Blogger Award (2nd and Last One)

    • Yeah, it took me years to get around to it, it must've been on my shelf for at least 2! I don't mind books about aliens, but sometimes the romances are just so cheesy. Lol at least it was cheap Summer!

  8. Great review, Jeann! I haven’t read the book; I prefer binge read series after all installments are released. Sorry to hear The 5th Wave left you apathetic upon finishing it. I’ve heard many praises for this book. As for the movie this part really cracked me up “It’s like everyone who survives the first 4 waves are only supermodels, with Evan maintaining a perfectly shaven 5 o’clock shadow and Cassie with her perfectly curled locks. No one needs to eat, go to toilet or take a bath”.
    My recent post Audio Obsession #6. Favorite narrators.

    • Thanks Ksenia! Binge reading is fun, I agree. Yeah, I've heard lots of raves but also mixed reviews as well. LOL I just had to say it! It's true about so many teen flicks!

    • Yeah, I saw a few mixed reviews when it came out, even though it was really hyped. It's more of a DVD sort of thing Val! Thanks Val, at least there was Alex Roe to stare at hehehe 😉

  9. rachana14

    It kind of sounds like the movie was a lot better than the book. But I mean this is isn't the first time I've read a pretty negative review of The 5th Wave which was pretty high up on my tbr, about a year ago but then I eventually decided *not* to read it because a friend of mine pointed out a lot of the same things you did in her review of it. (Sorry about the really long rambling sentence haha.) I'm kind of disappointed that the characters have no chemistry though because if all else fails, you can usually hook me with a cute romance (which has a *slow* and *realistic* buildup ;).

    – Rachana @ Addicted to YA

    • I know, I was the same Rachana, I saw so many negative reviews about the book I put it aside until the movie came out. So I'm kind of glad I waited until the movie hehe.

  10. I'd been planning to read this book, but now I'm not so sure. Nothing annoys me more than a too quick romance! A stupid protagonist is up there on my annoyances list too.

    I might just see the movie first. I do that sometimes. Then I'm not as annoyed at the changes, though it sounds they did a good job with this one.

    I also agree, the book should've explained why the aliens are there!
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    • Yeah, lots of people loved the book but it just wasn't for me. You might like the movie actually, I was pleasantly surprised. The movie explains the aliens pretty well.

  11. Kara Terzis

    Lovely reviews! I remember I LOVED THE 5TH WAVE when I read it years ago but when it came to THE INFINITE SEA I didn't loved it aaaaas much. As for the movie . . . honestly, I'm not sure! I'll go see it definitely, but I have the feeling it might make me cringe, haha.
    My recent post FRAYED Cover + Other Writing Updates

    • I've read so many bad reviews on the Infinite Sea I'm not sure if I'd go there! Maybe if I work myself up to it lol. Yeah, it's cringe-worthy but surprisingly entertaining.

  12. Eugenia

    I actually went into the movie not having read the book, and ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. I have to agree though, some of the plot was stretching it a tad too far, and the 'I choose you' part was more than a little cliche….That being said – Alex Roe seemed to be a good casting choice 😉 In any case, I'm now debating whether to read the books…though I do want to know what happens next! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jeann 🙂

  13. Bec

    The 5th Wave is one of the books I really enjoyed when I read it but have a horrible feeling I'd dislike if I reread it (which is why I'm hesitant to read the sequel haha). I remember hating the romance in the books and the Evan Walker romance. I found it a bit predictable too I'm sure.

    I was expecting the movie to be cheesy. Haven't decided if I'm going to go to theatres to see it. Most likely I'll just wait for the DVD
    My recent post DNF Review: Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

    • Yeah, I know those feels, it's like me and the Fallen series lol. These days cheesy romances are the worst, I have read so many of them! I would wait for the DVD.

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