The 5th Wave
Book 1
Author Rick Yancey
Genre Science Fiction
Release Date May 7, 2013
Series The 5th Wave Trilogy
Pages 457
Publisher Putnam Juvenile
Movie Adaptations The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave is the first book in The 5th Wave series by Rick Yancey. It was published on May 7, 2013. The novel is a bestseller and has been compared to various post-apocalyptic, young-adult fiction, such as The Hunger Games and The Road.

On, January 22, 2016, Columbia Pictures released a film adaption.


After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.


The 5th Wave follows 16-year-old Cassie Sullivan as she tries to survive in a world devastated by the waves of an alien invasion that have already devastated the Earth's population and knocked humankind back to the Stone Age. Cassie is headed to a "training" camp established by The Others, the aliens, to save her 5 year-old brother, Sam, who was taken away at her family's refugee camp, Camp Ashpit.

She comes across a gas station where she finds a wounded man. Cassie tells the man to reveal his hands. He slowly reveals his right hand and Cassie sees a glint of metal, and she fires her M16. She finds out that the metal was actually a crucifix. While along a highway in Ohio, she comes across the corpses of recently killed victims. Then she is shot in the leg by an unknown assailant. Cassie takes cover under a Buick. She is faced with a difficult decision: emerging from under the Buick and risk being killed by the assailant, the "Silencer", or stay under the Buick and bleed to death.

Ben Parish is sick with the disease spread during the 3rd Wave. He is tended to by a friend named Chris. Soldiers take Ben to Dr. Pam, who cures his disease. Dr. Pam tells him that the Others raided his camp, Camp Haven at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, by inhabiting human hosts and posing as refugees. Dr. Pam puts Ben through a program called "Wonderland".She takes him to a hospital room, where Chris sits wired to a chair. Dr. Pam gives Ben a special pair of goggles to show an unidentified creature attached to his brain. Dr. Pam pressures him into killing the Other inside Chris, knowing that Chris will die too. Ben does so.

Commander Vosch, who killed Cassie's father at their refugee camp, meets Ben in his room. Vosch is straightforward to Ben and tells him that they will all die, but not without a fight. He gives Ben a spot in Squad 53 in Camp Haven's army, and he becomes Private Zombie.

Cassie wakes in a four-poster bed with her wounds healed. She meets her savior, Evan Walker, who tells her that they are in his rural country house and that he found her on the highway crawling in blood. Cassie insists that she must go to Camp Haven to save her brother, but Evan is unsure that she is fit enough for the journey yet, and so they stay. Overtime, the two grow closer. One night, Cassie and Evan get into a fight, but Evan ends it by saying that Cassie saved him, rather than vice versa, and kisses her.

Sam Sullivan, Cassie's brother, has arrived at Camp Haven via the bus on which he was taken. The soldiers at Camp Haven mark the children: greens for unhealthy, reds for healthy. Sammy is marked red. He is called to be processed and cleaned. He is put through the Wonderland program and asked many questions relating to his personal life. After Sammy is fully processed, Dr. Pam offers to let him see an Other.

Ben Parish, now Private Zombie, has been assigned to squad 53. His drill sergeant, Sergeant Reznik, is a cruel, uncaring man who taunts his members about their personal life, which he learned about via the Wonderland program. He takes a liking to a member of another squad. Another member is added to squad 53, Sammy Sullivan, who Reznik calls Private Nugget. Reznik taunts Nugget. Zombie blurts out, "Leave him alone!" and Reznik punches him in his throat, but respects his spirit and appoints him as the new leader of squad 53.

During a fire drill at Camp Haven, Nugget is scared and Zombie slings him on his shoulder and runs with him. He slows the squad down by 45 seconds, angering his squad. Private Tank goes "Dorothy", meaning crazy, and pulls his gun out. Private Flintstone takes Tank down before anyone is hurt. Tank is later found to be dead in the P&D hangar. He is replaced by Private Ringer, who Zombie previously took a liking to. Ringer attempts to improve the squad's marksmanship and is successful. Squad 53 skyrockets through the ranks and graduates with the other top 3 squads.

Cassie continuously confronts the decision to trust Evan or not. Either way, Evan and Cassie continue to grow a relationship. While Evan leaves for one of night hunts, which Cassie suspects to be something far more terrible, searches through his things for any evidence that points to Evan being one of the Others. She finds her M16 in Evan's barn under a blanket, but Evan casually says that he simply found it near her when he found her. After a few more days, Cassie feels she is fit enough for the journey and Evan, against Cassie's wishes, sets out with her, burning his house down as a distraction to the Others.

Zombie and his squad are on their first patrol. They are given special headsets with lenses that can supposedly detect that a human is an Other rather than truly human. They are attacked, Private Oompa being killed in the process. Zombie and Ringer go out to kill their assailants while Private Poundcake covers them from above with his sniper. While under the cover of a building, Ringer cuts out her implant, and her head lights up green through Zombie's lens. Ringer pieces the evidence together with Zombie and concludes that Camp Haven is not a human training camp, but an "Other death camp". They find that their assailant is Reznik and kill him. Reznik is holding a piece of equipment with a map with green spots: the implants. Ringer and Zombie return to the squad and explain to them what they know. Flintstone, who is skeptical, snatches the equipment away and pulls a switch. He drops dead. Zombie is reluctant to leave whilst Nugget is still at Camp Haven and has Ringer shoot him so that his story will look real. Zombie is then evacuated by a helicopter to Camp Haven.

While on the journey, Cassie and Evan are attacked by a group of juvenile soldiers. Cassie is shocked as she watches Evan take them down at ease, though injuring his thigh and buttocks in the process. Once the soldiers are taken down, Cassie makes Evan confirm that he is the Silencer who shot her, while awkwardly stripping his clothing to heal his wounds. Cassie initially decides to leave him there to bleed to death, but afterwards decides to help him. After so, they orchestrate a plan to infiltrate the camp where Evan has little involvement .

Cassie arrives at the base on a bus. She is called for processing. Dr. Pam meets with her and Cassie knocks her unconscious. While trying to find where Sammy is, Dr. Pam awakens and commits suicide.

Zombie awakes in a hospital bed to see Vosch. Vosch tells him that he will be put through Wonderland. After Vosch leaves, Zombie escapes and steals an outfit from a dead guard. Cassie finds Sammy/Nugget and meets Zombie. They are captured by Vosch. Vosch attempts to kill Nugget by electrocuting him. It is revealed that Evan has planted bombs and hacked into the base's mainframe. Vosch leaves to Control. Evan appears and kills the soldiers guarding Zombie, Cassie, and Sam. Evan says goodbye before allegedly setting off "eyes", the same bombs Vosch used to destroy Cassie's refugee camp. The members of Squad 53 arrive and save Zombie, Cassie, and Sam. They ride off as Camp Haven is destroyed.


  • Cassiopeia Marie Sullivan or "Cassie"– the protagonist of the novel. She is 16 years old, short, and has curly strawberry-blonde hair. In school, she had a crush on Ben Parish, a popular football player. Her mother died in the 3rd Wave, and her father was killed by soldiers under the command of Commander Vosch in a refugee camp where the Sullivans stayed. Her little brother, Sammy, is taken away in a school bus with other kids to a military training facility, Camp Haven. When Cassie is shot in the leg by a Silencer, she is rescued by Evan Walker, and the two start a relationship. Cassie soon finds out that Evan is one of the "Others", who saved her after being shot by a Silencer. Although wary of him, she and Evan go to Camp Haven and rescue Sammy and Ben.
  • Evan Walker – a boy from rural Ohio who lived with his large family. His family and girlfriend were all killed during the 3rd Wave. He rescues Cassie after she is shot and takes her into his home, a farm. Evan soon professes his love for Cassie, but she quickly discovers that he is not truly human. He goes with Cassie to rescue Sammy from Camp Haven but is injured along the way. Evan disappears in Camp Haven but is able to help Cassie, Sammy, and Ben escape. His fate is undetermined until the second book. He is described as having chocolate brown eyes and brown hair.
  • Benjamin Thomas Parish or "Ben"/Zombie – a popular football player and honors student at Cassie's high school. While in high school, Cassie had a crush on Ben, but he never noticed her. After the 3rd Wave, Ben contracts the plague but is "rescued" by soldiers who take him to Camp Haven. There he becomes a part of Squad 53, renamed Zombie. Zombie soon discovers the soldiers are not real soldiers but aliens in disguise. Ben manages to escape with Cassie and Sammy. He is described as tall, buff, and dark haired with a winning smile. He appears to have made his way around the women at school before the Waves hit.
  • Sammy Sullivan/Nugget– Cassie's younger brother. He is taken away from the refugee camp that he, his father, and Cassie stayed at. He is taken to Camp Haven to be a part of Squad 53, after being given the name Nugget. Nugget and Zombie become good friends, with Zombie acting almost like a big brother to him. Sammy manages to escape with Cassie and Zombie at the end of the novel. He is described as having messy brown hair and large, teddy bear eyes.
  • Ringer/Marika – a girl who joins Squad 53 after Tank, a former member, goes "Dorothy" (the nickname for crazy). She is the best shot in the group and is very quiet yet scary. She and Zombie become friends, and she helps him shoot better. She is often threatening and serious toward the other squad members, but can also be vulnerable at times. She is described as tall and skinny, with pale white skin and long, glossy, straight black hair.
  • Commander Vosch – the leader of the soldiers and the mastermind behind the plans. He is very sadistic, cruel, and unfeeling. He at first is shown as a "hero" to those at Cassie's refugee camp, but he soon reveals his true nature by personally killing Cassie's father and destroying the camp and abducting the children including Sam to fight. He is also responsible for Camp Haven and becomes familiar with Cassie, Ringer, and Ben Parish.
  • Dumbo – a member of Squad 53. He has huge ears and is good with medicine and anatomy. Around 12 years old
  • Teacup/Allison – a member of Squad 53. Originally, the only girl, and the youngest in the squad before Nugget and Ringer come. About 7 years old.
  • Poundcake – a member of Squad 53. A large, chubby boy who never speaks, but is good with a gun. Around 8 years old.
  • Flintstone – a member of Squad 53. A teenage boy with a unibrow. Around 16 years old.
  • Tank – a former member of Squad 53. He went "Dorothy" (crazy), and was taken away. Dumbo and Zombie discover him dead in the P&D (Processing and Disposal) hangar.
  • Kenny/Oompa – a member of Squad 53. A chubby boy around the age of 8 or 9 with crooked teeth.