The Fifth Wave’ isn’t your typical YA novel turned movie


In the last couple years, Hollywood came out with many theories on how the world can possibly take a turn for the worse. Many of these films either involve a dystopian world where the government takes control over everything and everyone, or they involve a bunch of natural disasters that destroy 99% of the human population. What these movies have in common is that at least one main character, usually the protagonist, is the one who either survives or starts rebelling against the villain.

If you were to take the government and replace them with aliens who are ready to take over Earth, then you get “The 5th Wave.” This post-apocalyptic film is based on the best-selling book written by Rick Yancey and is told from the point of view of seventeen-year-olds Cassie Sullivan and Ben Parish. Throughout the movie, it talks about both of their journeys and their determination to survive the 5th wave.

“The germ of the story was probably planted around 2008 when the financial markets nearly collapsed worldwide,” Yancey said. “I’d been writing books for young adults for a few years prior to that and particularly that time in a young person’s life is rather apocalyptic.”

Cassie’s story starts off from the very beginning of the invasion. At first, she was just a normal high school teenager with a loving family, a best friend name Lizbeth, and a crush on football player, Ben Parish. When “The Others” are seen hovering over her home state, Cassie finds herself separated from her younger brother, Sam. In order to retrieve him, she must rely on the help of Evan, a stranger who helps her after nearly dying from her injuries.

“It was a personal choice on my part because ‘The 5th Wave’ is like my twelfth or thirteenth book, and I had never written from the point of view or from the perspective of a female,” Yancey said, “and I choose to do things as a writer for the same reason I got into writing, which was to escape boredom. I wanted to challenge myself and really create an authentic female voice, if you will.” 

While Cassie’s story is going on, audiences are also in the mindset of Ben Parish. The story starts with him joining Colonel Vosch and the other soldiers that are training; their job to exterminate ‘The Others’ and to restore the human race. After training and meeting other soldiers such as Ringer, Teacup, Dumbo, and Nugget (Sam), they are sent out into the streets where they soon find out that they are the 5th wave and are actually killing survivors. 

“Coming up with the idea of the attacks, after the third one I reached the question of: how are these technologically advanced beings going to finish the job, and I knew eventually, just like any sort of military campaign, there has to come a point when you have boots on the ground,” Yancey said. “And then I started thinking about the idea of risk…first of all they risk coming hundreds of light years to our planet, and they really risk themselves by putting themselves among us in the final attacks. The answer I came up with was the issue of alien consciousness occupying human bodies.”

 There are many qualities that make this movie different than other YA book to movie adaptations. The first one that comes up is the fact that the movie lacks a love triangle. While many people think the movie is hinting at a love triangle between Cassie, Ben, and Evan, Yancey reassures audiences that this wasn’t his intention.

 “For me as the writer, Ben represents Cassie’s past,” Yancey said. “Not who she is, or who she has become. Evan represents a different facet of her character, which is the young woman that she is becoming and the future that she might have. This is never to tease out ‘there’s two guys, who’s she going to pick?’”

 Another thing that makes this movie different is the plot of the story. In this film, there isn’t a chosen one who is trying to defeat the corrupted evil. Instead, the movie is from multiple point of views and the plot is to survive in any way they can and to protect their friends and family.

 “This story is unique in that it presents a worldwide phenomena that is happening, but also very intimate and human at the same time,” Yancey said. “This is why it’s told through different points of view and narrowed in on a particular story, which, in the first book is Cassie trying to find her little brother. This makes it very human and very intimate and very real in that sense.”

 All in all, if you are looking for a film that involves very relatable protagonists and an intriguing plot line, this movie is a must see for any sci-fi junkies.