The 5th Wave

By Rick Yancey

ISBN: 9780399162411

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Reading Level: 5th grade

Interest Level: 9th-12th grade+

Awards: Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor book (2014),Keystone to Reading Book Award Nominee for High School (2015), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2014),The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2013), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2015), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2013), Carnegie Medal Nominee (2014),Green Mountain Book Award Nominee (2015), Louisiana Teen Readers Choice Award Winner (2016), Missouri Gateway Readers Award Nominee (2016), Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for High School (2016)

Teaser: Cassie won’t let anything stop her from getting to her brother! Not another human OR alien is going to stand in her way.

Summary: Cassie is a sixteen-year-old who is determined to live for the sake of her brother. Aliens have arrived on Earth and ten days later the 1st wave hits the humans of Earth. An electromagnetic pulse takes out all the electricity causing accidents, crashes, and chaos everywhere. The 2nd wave is a tsunami that sinks all the coastal states, countries and any islands. The 3rd wave is a disease that is distributed through birds. The 4th wave is that the aliens can download themselves into humans. Finally, Cassie hopes to get to her brother before the 5th Wave, whatever it may be. She does not plan on getting shot in the leg by a Silencer or to be saved by Evan Walker. But she battles on in order to get to her brother before the 5th Wave.

Information about the Author: has a bio of Yancey that says, “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.”

Critical Evaluation: I had to get used to Cassie’s voice at first. It seemed like she never said full sentences and it started to get a little annoying and really confusing. At one point Cassie is describing the moment her and her dad hugged for the last time. And she says,. “Not enough. Big hug” and I had no idea what she meant at first. I had not realized that they had already been hugging before she said that. I don’t think it is that big of a deal. Once I read Cassie more, I got used to it and was able to understand it better. I also thought that it was ridiculous that Cassie just happened to know karate. I feel like that was not realistic. I do not think karate matched her personality before the Arrival.

Curriculum Ties: N/A

Booktalk Ideas: Before the first wave, people speculated that the aliens would be friendly. Would you have been one of those people? Why or why not?

Challenge Issues: Violence, Death, Child Soldiers

Challenge Resources: Rationale for choosing this book (see “Why Did I Pick This”), Engage students and parents in discussions about intellectual freedom, ALA Library Bill of Rights,Challenge Resources from the American Library Association

Why Did I Pick This: I picked this book because it is a young adult novel that was fairly recently adapted to a film. Whenever there is a movie based on a book in theaters, I suggest reading the book first. There is a unique alien race that makes the novel slightly different from other YA lit.


Yancey, R. (2013). The 5th Wave. London: Penguin Group.

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