Cover of The 5th Wave, with a girl walking, her back to the camera, through the woods to a city lit up in yellow light

About the Book

Title: The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1)
Published: 2013
Series: The 5th Wave
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Airport Thriller
BFF Charm: Double Trouble
Talky Talk: She Said, He Said EXTREME!
Bonus Factors: Aliens, The Apocalypse, Trust No One
Relationship Status: You Shook Me All Night Long

Cover Story: Airport Thriller

There is nothing embarrassing about this cover (which, in the YA genre, is something to celebrate), but there’s nothing spectacular about it either. It looks exactly like any number of thrillers you might find in an airport newsstand, and that’s a shame, because this cover should scream, “PICK ME! I AM SO FREAKING AMAZING!” And it doesn’t, so you might end up buying a different, lesser book, and then you’ll be mad that this cover wasn’t more convincing, and over time your bitterness will lead you to form the Society Against Bad YA Covers (SABYAC), and you’ll fight a crusade for better cover art, and then we’ll all owe you a huge debt of gratitude. So yeah, okay, now this mediocre cover kinda seems like a good thing.

The Deal:

Y’all, this is one of those books where the less you know before reading it, the better. Seriously, steer clear of blurbs! Don’t lose your 5th Wave virginity by dicking around on Amazon or Goodreads before committing to a serious reading relationship with this book.

In keeping with my warning, this review will be purposefully vague. But here’s what I will tell you:

1. Aliens have invaded the earth.

2. These aliens aren’t looking for friendship and Reese’s Pieces.

3. Sixteen-year-old Cassie is one of the few human survivors. And she won’t give up until she finds her little brother, Sammy.

If that’s not enough to pique your interest, how about this:

This book is totally the next Hunger Games/Divergent. BOOM.

BFF Charm: Double Trouble

2 BFF charms

I love the two main protagonists of this story, but they’re basically the C&C Music Factory type. As in, GONNA MAKE YOU SWEAT. And not just from anxiety, but also from severe fist pumping.

Cassie is a regular gal who is forced to become a badass by the collapse of the entire world order. She’s not insanely smart or gorgeous or witty or strong. She doesn’t stand out in a crowd. She pathetically pined after the same dude for years in school, and she has no special skill or superpower. She’s ordinary made extraordinary by insane circumstances, and because of that, I found her relatable as well as admirable. Cassie is MY GIRL.

Zombie (yes, it’s a nickname) is hard to the mothereffing core. He’s that panty-melting combo of tough and tender, fierce and feeling, and I alternated between wanting to give him a hug and wanting to give him… uh, something else.

Be prepared for all of your other fictional friends to get jealous, because these two incredibly complex characters will demand all of your attention while earning your undying affection.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

In an effort to keep this review relatively spoiler-free, let’s just say that there is some romance in this book, and it’s got a nice amount of tingly tension. But for me, the real swoon came from Zombie, because HOT DAMN. Dude is so noble and determined and humble, but before that spells boring, he adds in C for Charming, T for Tortured and H for Hawt. And I don’t really know how all of that could equal an anagram for SEXY, but trust me, it does.

Talky Talk: She Said, He Said EXTREME!

Yancey includes several perspectives in this novel, but he mostly alternates between Cassie and Zombie’s points of view. Both voices are unique, emotionally layered and incredibly compelling. While taking the time to craft each character’s journey, Yancey manages to keep the pacing at a brisk clip, and he is a master at ratcheting up the suspense. We’re talking intensity in ten cities.

Here’s an example of how Yancey’s dynamic characters and dramatic flair culminate in expert storytelling. (This is from Cassie’s P.O.V.)

Still, I considered the M16 my bestest of besties. Always by my side, even at night, burrowed into my sleeping bag with me, faithful and true. In the 4th Wave, you can’t trust that people are still people. But you can trust that your gun is still your gun.

Shhh, Cassie. It’s close.


I should have bailed. That little voice had my back. That little voice is older than me. It’s older than the oldest person who ever lived.

I should have listened to that voice.


Bonus Factor: Aliens

A UFO hovering over people with lightning in the sky

The aliens in this book are mysterious and highly advanced. They’re also hella terrifying.

Bonus Factor: The Apocalypse

gray clouds with a yellow traffic sign that says "apocalypse ahead"

By the time this book begins, the Earth has already endured four “waves” of the alien invasion. Which means everything has gone to shizz. It’s a bleak world crackling with uncertainty, and anything can happen.

Bonus Factor: Trust No One

Because Rick Yancey is a genius, you will feel more paranoid while reading this book than Mulder and the Lone Gunmen combined.

Relationship Status: You Shook Me All Night Long

Minutes into our first encounter, I was a goner. This book set my pulse racing and my temperature rising, and it absolutely took my breath away. Before I knew it, the walls were shaking, the earth was quaking, my mind was aching and we were MAKING IT. There were times when things got so intense, it had to cool me down to take another round, but pretty soon I was back in the ring to take another swing. The 5th Wave made a meal outta me, and I can’t wait til it comes back for more, in sequel form!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions.

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.