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Book Review For Teens: Rick Yancey The 5th Wave

A thrilling, imaginative ride from start to finish. You won’t be able to put this book down, says our father-daughter review team.

PARENT REVIEW | by Scott Parsons

Aliens seem to have a stronger capacity to frighten now than ever—maybe because they have the fear factor advantage of possibly existing. Real enough, in fact, that revered cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has issued quite serious warnings that we need to stop broadcasting signals into space in case we catch their attention. Because catching their attention might draw them here, and “if aliens visit us,” he says, “the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.” In short, don’t expect aliens of the Close Encounters or “we come in peace” model—think The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.

Think apocalypse. Because Yancey’s aliens haven’t traveled across incomprehensibly vast (to humans, at least) stretches of the universe to pay us a friendly visit; they’ve come to take Earth off our hands for their own use and to ensure their future survival. That means they have to eliminate human existence without damaging the ecosystem in the process. That sounds tricky, but the aliens actually arrived a long time ago to begin observing life on earth.

Six thousand years later, they have a plan. And they roll it out in phases—or waves. Wave One: Kill the electricity. In one especially chilling scene, children at school run to look out the windows after all power shuts down to see planes dropping out of the sky. Five hundred thousand lives lost in a matter of seconds. Wave Two: Create a massive tsunami by dropping a metal rod from space onto a fault line. Three billion lives in a day. Wave Three: a bird-carried super-virus that kills four billion. Wave four: Aliens in human form take up weapons and start picking off the survivors, who have been reduced to a small and manageable number.

As for The 5th Wave, the less said the better as it forms a cunning and compelling plot that drives the bulk of a novel that, whether you are an adult or teen reader, is very worth your time.

Scott Parsons HeadshotScott Parsons is an English teacher and the director of the Osborne Writing Center at Hathaway Brown. 

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TEEN REVIEW | by Camryn Parsons

A couple of years ago, I received The 5th Wave for Christmas. As soon as I picked it up, I could not put it down. I finished it two days later.

When the book begins, most of the earth’s population has already been wiped out by an alien invasion. Throughout the novel, a few of the survivors tell their stories. The main character is Cassie, who spends most of the novel searching for her brother, Sammie, who she believes is still alive. In her journey to find and rescue him, she meets Evan Walker, who has many secrets but a heart so true that Cassie falls in love with him, even though her mottos for survival are “Stay alone” and “Trust no one.”

I cannot lie and say that this book did not scare me. It scared me a lot. But that is what made it so great. This is not a novel about your average teenagers struggling to make it through high school. These kids are trying to avoid being murdered, just like the billions and billions before them. I not only feared for their safety, but wondered what it would be like to be in their shoes. Each of them is unique and courageous, and I admire the way they keep fighting and never give up.

There is non-fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, and then there is The 5th Wave. I have no idea how to categorize this book. Rarely have I experienced such a thrilling novel. Though I love to read, I’ve never had such a hard time putting down a book.

If you are looking for a book to be entertained (and frightened) by, then read this. You will be awed by Cassie and Evan’s journey, shocked by the bravery of the small but mighty team, and saddened by the spread of darkness that came across Earth. The 5th Wave is the first book of a trilogy, and the movie is coming out next year, so start reading now.

Camryn Parsons headshot 8th graderCamryn Parsons is an 8th grader at Hathaway Brown, where she enjoys writing poetry, playing piano and volleyball.


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