They Came From Outer Space: ‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey

It’s impossible for me to resist a book with a lot of buzz. Once I start seeing a book’s name pop up in magazine reviews, book blogs and tweets I know it’s only a matter of time before I put a library hold on it. I read the Nicholas Sparks joint Dear John just because I saw that Channing Tatum-full trailer one too many times (bad decision), I read all 4 Twilight books just because I used to walk past copies at the grocery store and I read The Hunger Games because everyone and my dad was reading it (seriously, my dad is the one who lent them to me, and the whole series rules).

So when I saw The 5th Wave popping up in my Twitter feed, on book blogs and in a stellar Entertainment Weekly review, I knew it would find its way into my hands sooner rather than later. And guess what? It’s getting so much buzz for a reason…because it’s great.

Seriously—The 5th Wave is fast-paced, suspenseful and so truly frightening that it was hard to read before bed—that didn’t stop me from reading it before bed, of course, but it did give me some weird dreams.

Most of the books I write about here in Young Adult Education are contemporary YA romances, where we all know what’s going to happen (kissing, living happily ever after); it’s how it’s going to happen that’s exciting. With books like that, I don’t worry too much about spoilers. But The 5th Wave is science-fiction, and we don’t know what’s going to happen from the beginning, so I’m being extra-careful here not to ruin everything for you. A plot summary, in brief: aliens have invaded the Earth and they’re destroying just about everything. Our teenage heroine Cassie is hell-bent on rescuing her little brother, Sammy. When (totally swoon-worthy, natch) Evan finds her in the woods, they start working together to find Sammy. But where is he? Is he even alive? Will there be another wave? What do the aliens want? Will there ever be any sexy forest make outs?!

This might just sound like your basic alien invasion story, but trust me, The 5th Wave is different. It’s extremely realistic, to a terrifying degree. For starters, when the invasion begins, people don’t really take it seriously. They go about their normal lives and joke about it, which is absolutely what I think would happen if there really was an alien invasion. I mean, sure, the doomsday preppers would be out stocking up on bottled water and canned goods, but the rest of the world would probably be watching Jon Stewart make jokes about it on The Daily Show. It’s that element of “Oh my God, this could totally happen,” that turns The 5th Wave into something incredible and uniquely creepy.

Some Highlights: 

-As an Ohio resident (Columbus! Woot woot!), I automatically love any book or movie that’s set in this fine state. The 5th Wave is set around Cincinnati and mentions various Ohio cities as well as Wright-Patterson. I know I probably shouldn’t get excited to read about my state being decimated by an alien attack, but whatever. The thrill of recognition!

-Y’all know how I love YA romance. You might think there’s no room for it here, what with the aliens and all, but guess what? There’s totally some steamy romantic action. One of the very, very few criticisms I’ve read of the book dealt with the realism of the romance…like, would teenagers in such a dangerous situation really be interested in their crushes when they’re just trying to stay alive? I don’t know if that’s realistic, but to be honest with you guys… I don’t care. Like, at all. I mean, I basically read every book just thinking, “But when will they get to the kissing??” so I was all about the dreamy dudes Rick Yancey created.

-But enough about the guys! The real star of the book is Cassie (full name: Cassiopeia), a true badass who will do anything it takes to save her brother. I love Cassie because she’s smart, tough and sassy, and she keeps a journal. Best friend material for sure.

-A film of The 5th Wave is in the works with Tobey Maguire’s company. I’m already super-excited to see who ends up playing Cassie, Evan and Zombie.

What about you guys? Have you read The 5th Wave? Did you love it as much as I did? Let me know in the comments! And, as always, I love to hear your suggestions for books to feature in Young Adult Education. Leave me a comment, email me at or find me on Twitter @KerryAnn.

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