Earth has sustained strange alien attacks in five different waves. The remaining humans trust no one they encounter. They struggle to form alliances and figure out the aliens’ motives and next move. Amidst all of this is Cassie, who is trying to find her five year old brother.
Author Rick Yancey
Point of View
The book is written in first person from several different points of view—predominantly Cassie’s, Evan’s, and Ben’s.
This series is set in the modern world, and earth is under attack from aliens in a mothership hovering above earth. The five strange waves of the attack are as follows:
1st wave – a massive electromagnetic pulse (It happened 10 days after satellites captured the first images of the alien mothership nearing Earth.)
2nd wave – an earthquake, which caused an enormous tsunami (It took out 40% of the Earth’s population, those who lived within 60 miles of a coastline.)
3rd wave – an awful Ebola-like virus made airborne and spread through bird feces (It wiped out 97% of the people who contracted it.)
4th wave – intruders planted long ago in human babies (They awakened when the hosts became teenagers, and these infested humans begin to quietly kill any surviving humans. Humans refer to them as Silencers.)
5th wave – kids taken away from their families and trained as soldiers (They are trained to kill anyone who lights up green, which they think are infested humans but actually are the opposite.)
I give it 3.75 stars overall.
– Cassie Sullivan – the main character who has lost both parents in the alien attacks and is now searching for her little brother
– Sammy Sullivan – Cassie’s five year old brother (who goes by Nugget when he becomes a soldier)
– Evan Walker – the mysterious guy who nurses Cassie back to health after a gunshot wound
– Ben Parish – Cassie’s high school crush (who goes by Zombie when he becomes a soldier)
– Ringer – a shrewd soldier and expert markswoman who helps Zombie lead his squad
– Vosch – the base commander (and bad guy)
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
Details – What happened in The 5th Wave?
Book 1-The Last Historian
Cassie’s afraid she might be the last human on the planet. She finds a teenage boy with a bad injury in an old gas station. He could be a human or alien. They point their guns as each other. He drops his weapon and asks her to do the same. She sees something shiny in his hand and shoots him. It was a crucifix.
Cassie travels during the day because although she lacks the cover of darkness, she can spot the alien’s drones. She finds a highway full of dead cars. She sees three recently murdered people and then a drone. When she stands up to look at it, she’s shot in the leg. She lunges for her rifle, but shots are fired all around her. She lies under the closest car and bleeds. No one comes. She almost passes out and decides to make a move. She reaches for her gun. Nothing happens this time.
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Cassie thinks about how after their mother died, she, Sammy, and their father headed to a nearby survivor camp. One day a drone appears. Everyone is worried. One day three buses roll into view. The drivers say more of the military survived than everyone thought. They’re driving everyone there, starting with the kids. Cassie doesn’t want to divide their family up, but Sammy rides away on a school bus. She’s been searching for him ever since.
The adults and older children leave shortly after in Humvees. They take everyone’s weapons, but Cassie and her dad each keep one hidden in their back pocket. The soldiers ask if everyone is accounted for. Cassie’s dad mentions Crisco isn’t there. He says Cassie knows where to look for him. They send a soldier with her. The soldier shoots and kills Crisco when they find him. Cassie pulls out her hidden gun and kills the soldier. She goes back to the barracks and sees Vosch shoot her father. She leaves for good. Soldiers chase her for a while, but they don’t find her.
Ben has contracted the plague and is taken to a refugee camp. One day, he hears gunfire and explosions erupt. A man who has been shot runs into his tent and says they’ve had it all wrong. The aliens have been here the whole time inside humans. He dies. Two soldiers grab Ben and take him to a base hospital. The doctor inserts a tracking pellet in Ben’s neck. She uses a program stolen from the aliens called Wonderland to map his mind. Images from his whole life race through his mind, including the painful way his home was swarmed, his family was taken away, and he fled. Mostly he thinks of the younger sister he should have protected. The doctor explains it’s necessary to see inside of every soldier’s head because aliens are inside some humans.
Ben is taken to a different ward to fully recover. From his window, he sees buses leave and then return several hours later loaded with kids. Vosch appears and says the strong have survived. Now it’s time to assemble, train, and fight back. He says Ben’s Wonderland profile shows he’s the best of the best.
Book 3-The Silencer
Evan has been stalking Cassie since he heard the shot in the convenience store. He knows her name and thoughts from reading her journal. He has been finishing humans since the alien awoke inside him at fourteen. But he couldn’t finish Cassie after reading her journal. He had always maintained a bit of his humanity, unlike others. He sees her finally crawl out from underneath the car. He told himself he would shoot her as soon as she ran. But she didn’t run. He saw fear in her eyes but also strength. And he turned and ran away.
Cassie is still injured and feels like she is going to freeze to death from the blizzard going on outside the SUV she’s in. She figures the Silencer didn’t finish her because he knew she would die from her injuries. She decides to continue her journey to find Sammy in the blizzard. She feels someone watching her.
Cassie passes out. She awakes in a bed in a warm farmhouse. She has an IV bag hooked up. Her wound is bandaged. She hears someone coming and plays dead. He eventually says he knows she’s awake. He calls her by name and says he found it on her driver’s license. He introduces himself. Evan says his whole family is dead. He tells her he saw buzzards circling and found her unconscious. She tells him how everyone in her family is dead besides her brother.
Cassie wonders about his motives. They discuss the aliens and what they suspect about them. Cassie feels like they have to be mobile to not get caught. Evan says they’re about 70-80 miles from the Wright-Patterson Base, where Cassie thinks they were taking Sammy. He doesn’t feel like she can travel for several weeks.
Every night, Evan patrols the grounds and hunts. Once Cassie follows him for ten minutes, turns to head back to the house, and finds him standing there. He doesn’t get mad. Evan continues to take good care of Cassie as she heals. They do rehab work. They talk about their lives before the aliens. She tells him about her old crush on Ben Parrish. He teaches her how to properly shoot a gun. Evan says he’s going with her when she’s ready to go find Sammy. He admits he has read her journals but says it was while she was unconscious at his house. They argue, and then they kiss.
Book 5-The Winnowing
Sammy is sad to be leaving his family. The soldier says they’re headed to a safe place, and they’ll bring his family soon. Sammy is skeptical. They take the kids’ temperatures and say they’re taking the sick ones to see the doctor. In Sammy’s group, the kids get called back one at a time to see a nurse. They check them for lice and ticks and sanitize them. They examine him and ask questions about his family. The doctor implants a tracking device in his neck and then tests it. Images of Sammy’s whole life race through his mind while the doctor maps them at a nearby computer. She says he passed with flying colors and is healthy and safe. She tells him the thermometers aren’t for taking temperatures. They’re scanning to see if people are human.
Book 6-The Human Clay
Ben has transformed into Zombie during their rigorous training and loves his tough new persona. One day a young boy nicknamed Nugget shows up to training. When their superior is just as hard on Nugget as he is on everyone else, Zombie speaks up. He is chewed out and then assigned as Nugget’s squad leader. Nugget learns fast but leans on Zombie for comfort quite often. He tells him his sister Cassie is coming for him. Zombie protects Nugget from Tank, a fellow recruit who goes a little crazy one night and threatens to hurt Nugget. Tank is replaced by Ringer. They need her for her marksmanship, in which their squad is lacking in. She helps their standings tremendously.
Graduation day arrives. The top four squads will move on. Nugget isn’t graduating yet, and he’s sad that Zombie’s leaving. Vosch tells Zombie he has made sergeant and his squad won. He says they have used Wonderland to map the aliens among them and have discovered they won’t leave the mothership until humanity is exterminated. So they will take the battle to them.
Book 7-The Heart to Kill
They have become closer, but Cassie can’t decide if she should trust or stay with Evan. She is suspicious, and he can sense her restlessness. When he leaves to hunt that night, she goes through every room and then goes to the barn. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for but scours it. She finds her old gun buried in a pile of old blankets. She backs away in disbelief and backs right into Evan. Cassie says she’s investigating a noise she heard. He says he found the rifle a couple of days ago near the highway. He tries to sweet talk her and says to live you have to find something you’re willing to die for, and he has found that in her.
Book 8-The Spirit of Vengeance
Zombie, Ringer, Flintstone, Dumbo, Oompa, Poundcake, and Teacup are in a helicopter on their first mission. They are supposed to kill all infested humans (who will glow green) and capture all artillery. They are shot at and the mission gets complicated fast. Oompa is injured and ends up dying, and Teacup is grazed by a bullet. The shooter isn’t an infested, though, and they’re confused. They decide to proceed as if he is.
Zombie and Ringer take off on their own and leave the others in a safe place. They are shot at as they run without cover. Ringer gets a bad superficial wound on her neck, and they re-assess their plan. Ringer tells Zombie about her suspicions…What is the likelihood that their commanders are doing all of this on their own—getting power back after the EMP, finding out about the infesteds, and getting access to Wonderland? Ringer thinks their commanders are aliens. She wants her implant out. When Zombie takes it out, she lights up green in his eyepiece.
They think they’re trained to kill infesteds, but they’re actually killing anyone who hasn’t been tagged with the implant. They decide they can’t ever go back to the base. Ringer cuts Zombie’s implant out. They decide just to disarm their target now. Ringer has to shoot his leg to take him down and then his hand as he reaches for his gun. It is Reznik, their drill sergeant from base camp. He pushes a button to try to kill them through their implants, but they’re out. Ringer shoots and kills him. They see their friends as a cluster of dots remaining on his command screen. This must have been a drill to see how they would do in combat, but the kill switches were a failsafe.
They’re afraid their friends will think they’re the enemy and will kill them as they’re approaching without their implants. They decide to put them in their mouths and hope they’re still activated. It works. Flintstone doesn’t buy their story. He grabs Reznik’s screen and hits the kill switch by his green dot to prove they’re wrong. He immediately drops dead. They cut out everyone’s implants. Zombie says he’s going back on his own to get Nugget.
They shoot Zombie in the side so he can fake an injury. Ringer says she’s coming after him if he isn’t back in 48 hours. He heads back to their helicopter. The pilot wants to know what happened, but Ben is going unconscious from blood loss. He wakes up in the hospital unit back at the base. Vosch is in the room with him. Zombie tells the best story he can come up with, using as much truth as possible.
Book 9-A Flower to the Rain
Cassie wakes up in her bed but can’t find Evan. He returns and says he was checking the weather. They’ll be good to leave tonight. He begs to go alone to keep her safe. Cassie says ‘no.’ They leave at nightfall. Evan decides to burn the house down as a diversion, and they leave as soon as it ignites. Evan hears something in the woods. Cassie doesn’t hear it, but he takes off with his gun. She hears gunshots and is worried he’s hit. Then she discovers he has been dropping their pursuers (children soldiers) one by one with incredible precision. She finally admits to herself what she has suspected …Evan is a Silencer. She confronts him, and he admits her suspicions are true. He has been injured. She patches up his shrapnel wounds. He says he only lied about the parts that don’t matter, but Cassie thinks it’s just the opposite. He admits he was the one who shot her. He apologizes for everything and then passes out from his injuries.
They argue as Cassie pulls more shrapnel out the next day. She needs him for the trip but is mad and doesn’t trust him. He admits that she shouldn’t. He says he’s a shark pretending to be a man. He says he’s in love with her. He knew she would die if he let her go. He tells her going to Wright-Patterson is a death sentence for her because it’s so secure and she’s the enemy. Evan says he voted to have all several hundred thousand alien consciousnesses inserted into humans to live out their lives on earth and never harm anyone. But he was out-voted. He holds her cheek and lets her enter his consciousness.
A bus finally rolls in. Cassie cuts her hair, holds the teddy bear to look younger, gives a fake name, says she’s alone, and is allowed to board. She goes through the same routine on the bus and at the base that Sammy went through. Right before she’s hooked up to Wonderland, Cassie attacks the doctor. She digs out her tracker and shoves it up the doctor’s nose. She tries to locate Sammy on the computer system but can’t find him. Cassie pops into the adjoining room to change into a white jumpsuit. When she comes back out, the doctor is sitting up with a small silver device in her hand. She presses a button and instantly, accidentally kills herself. Cassie races through the building to find Sammy. Instead, she runs straight into Vosch.
Cassie acts like a man just killed the doctor. Vosch believes her, locks her in a nearby room, and orders soldiers to search the premises. Cassie shatters the two-way mirror with a chair and escapes through a door in the adjoining room. She sees metal ductwork running beneath the ceiling and crawls through it. She has no idea if she’s taking the right path. She hears soldiers below her say there must be at least two. She knows that they’re on to her and that Evan must have come to help. She sees soldiers loading eye-shaped globes onto a cart. Vosch must be going to use them to destroy the base just like he did at the survivor camp. The sirens go off.
Book 10-A Thousand Ways
As soon as Vosch leaves, Zombie thinks he has two hours to make something happen. Zombie acts like he needs to use the restroom and violates orders by getting up himself to do it. He acts like he needs help getting off the commode and attacks the orderly when he comes in. He steals his clothes, cuts out his tracker, and searches for Nugget. He hears the sirens go off and sees the eye device outside the window.
Book 11-The Infinite Sea
Cassie drops out of the air shaft into the armory. She changes into fatigues and grabs weapons. The sirens stop. She feels explosions, the walls tremble, and she hears children screaming. She follows the screams and finds Major Bob talking to the assembled kids. She is stopped by a teenage soldier and acts like she’s one, too, but he gets suspicious and she has to shoot him. She finds Sammy, and they embrace.
Book 12-Because of Kistner
Zombie feels the explosions. They knock him down, knock his sutures loose, and give him a concussion. The building is battered, and he has to crawl through the remnants and the rubble. He sees a dead body and steals the sidearm. Then, miraculously, he looks up and sees Nugget. He’s carrying a teddy bear and walking with a new recruit.
Book 13-The Black Hole
Sammy tells Cassie that Major Bob said they’re evacuating all the kids on an airplane. He asks where their dad is, and Cassie says he’s back at Camp Ashpit. They escape the hangar and make it to a tunnel where someone is coming toward them with a gun. Sammy runs to him. Cassie draws her gun. Cassie cannot believe who it is…Ben Parish, her high school crush. He’s confused, but then Sammy explains this is his sister. Cassie explains they went to high school together. They learn they both know the truth about Vosch and the 5th wave. Ben knows a way out. Cassie is reluctant but has to trust him.
They remove Sammy’s tracker. They run into Vosch. He takes Sammy away and takes Cassie and Ben to the execution room. He tells them they will win this war because they’ve been watching the planet for 6,000 years and know everything there is to know about humans. A Silencer appears with Sammy, who is strapped to a chair. Vosch says he admires what Cassie has done. He is going to kill Ben but will let her brother live if she tells him who helped her infiltrate the camp. She lunges for Vosch, but Ben holds her back.
Vosch is furious and hits the execute button for her and Ben. The word “OOPS” comes up on the monitor. The system has been hacked, and Vosch leaves to go kill whoever did so. Cassie and Ben attack the Silencer guarding them and then the one guarding Sammy. Evan drops into the room from the air ducts. Cassie says he’s with her, Ben introduces himself, Evan recognizes the name from the journal, and Cassie gets really embarrassed.
Evan says they’re going to just walk out. He cuts the lights and leads the way because of his heightened senses. He tells them what to expect as they work their way out of the building. He tells them to head north. Cassie realizes he’s not coming with them. He says there’s something he has to do. Cassie objects. Ben figures out from their conversation that Evan is one of them. Evan says to run fast when the plane takes off. He kisses Cassie and leaves. Cassie thinks he’s going to blow the whole place up.
How did The 5th Wave end?
It’s hard going, especially for Ben with his injuries. They see the kids loading onto a big cargo plane. As soon as it’s off the ground, they take off running. The underground base explodes. All the drones around come crashing down. Cassie’s old wound begins bothering her as they run, and she falls. A Humvee appears, and a kid leans out reaching for Ben. Ben throws Sammy in and rushes back for Cassie. Another explosion erupts, and the ground splits beneath them. Ben grabs her and launches her toward the Humvee. Ben jumps in, and the driver floors it.
They drive all night. Dumbo uses his limited medical training to work on everyone’s injuries. Poundcake, Teacup, and Ringer are there, too. Cassie cries thinking about Evan. Ben thanks her for saving his life. She says he got her into the Humvee, so they’re even. Ben gives her a peck on the cheek and puts his arms around her. Cassie’s arms are around Sammy, and they sit like that as the sun begins to rise.
There you go! That’s what happened in The 5th Wave, the first book in this series!
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