The five waves of disappointment

After much convincing from friends and relatives, I finally read the popular book by Rick Yancey: The 5th Wave. I was thrilled once I got it but was thoroughly disappointed by this bland mess of pages called a novel.

After the Others, aliens that appeared in a mothership over Earth, arrived nothing but death followed. The Others sent waves of plagues to wipe out humanity.

The First Wave took out all electricity, making all electronics stop working. The Second Wave caused earthquakes and huge tsunamis to wipe out coastline cities across the world. The Third Wave was a specially designed a virus made by the Others known as the Red Death, spread by birds that took out 97 percent of the remaining human population. The Fourth Wave awoke the Silencers, Others whose consciousness were downloaded into human bodies. These Silencers dedicated themselves to killing any non-Other humans.

The story is told by two different people, Cassie Sullivan and a soldier known as Zombie. 16-year-old Cassie, her father, and her younger brother, Sammy, manage to survive the first three waves and hide at Camp Ashpit. After the Others, disguised as the military, show up and take all the children under 14, including Sammy, they kill all the remaining refugees. By a stroke of luck, Cassie survives and escapes with the promise that she’ll go after Sammy and avenge her father.  

Zombie survives the Red Death and is taken to military camp, Camp Haven, and trains as a soldier. He becomes the leader of Squad 53, a motley band of misfits, including the girl he’s interested in, Ringer. While the Squad continues to excel, they begin to suspect that not everything is as clear-cut as it seems.

Although Yancey has a wonderful idea that aliens wouldn’t come and fight us guns-a-blazing but would instead take us out one wave at a time, the story is undeveloped with choppy, mediocre writing.

For starters, the story is told in a series of flashbacks as Cassie reminisces over her past life. Normally, this isn’t a problem for me, but Yancey jumps back and forth between the present and past without much of a warning and many times it takes a while to determine when a flashback occurs.

Overall, the first half of the book is awkward and jumbled. Too much happens too quickly so the reader hardly has time to catch their breath as the information gets shoved down their throat.

Not only that, but Yancey completely fails at writing believable characters. He makes Cassie sometimes seem like the dumbest person on the planet because of her obliviousness, and other times he makes her seem like a genius. As for Zombie, he is sometimes written as no-nonsense and then suddenly becomes the biggest buffoon only to get a smile out of Ringer.

There are some scenes, mostly the ones featuring Zombie, that are fantastically written and make the reader so absorbed in the story that they don’t want to put it down, but for every breathtaking moment, there is a moment thrice as long that is confusing, sloppy or just nonsensical. For almost every scene, Yancey writes either too much so the reader is suffocating in knowledge, or he writes too little so the reader has so many questions that never get answered.  

The 5th Wave is awkward and poorly written. The genius of Yancey’s ideas can never truly get across to a reader because of his uninspired writing. The novel isn’t always boring, and at times it can be pleasant, but the confusion the reader has to go through isn’t worth it.  The 5th Wave isn’t a bad choice for required reading or a book report, but it isn’t worth the time for pleasure reading. I would not recommend it unless it was a last resort for an assignment. I give it 2/5 stars.