The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

The basics

Title: The Fifth Wave


Series: The Fifth Wave #1

- The Fifth Wave (May 2013)
- The Infinite Sea (September 2014)
- The Last Star (August 2015)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

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.

Read a full summary of The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey below. If you can’t remember what happened in The Fifth Wave and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

Can we all please applaud Kat @ Cuddlebuggery for being the best life-saver that ever was?


in short

The story starts with Cassie, all alone having lost her family after successive waves of alien attacks. She’s searching for her brother, the last surviving member of her family when she is attacked and injured by a Silencer, and alien posed as a human who hunts down humans.
She is rescued by the mysterious Evan Walker who nurses her back to health while hiding secrets from Cassie.  You see, Evan Walker is a SILENCER, folks!
Ben Parish, Cassie’s old school crush is in a refugee camp when he is recruited to a military base, Camp Haven, to train to defeat the alien invasion.  He trains as a solider until, on his first mission, he finds out that he and his fellow soldiers have been duped.  They’re all fighting for the enemy and killing fellow humans while they’re at it.

what happened in The Fifth Wave?

  • Cassie is being stalked by the Silencer and is traumatized by her struggle for survival. She reminisces about a possibly innocent young man that she accidentally killed out of fear. But Cassie needs to eat some cement and harden up because she’s got survivin’ to do!
  • Cassie reminisces about the first three waves that happened and how the world began to end.
    • 1st wave = EMP wave. (No more twitter!)
    • 2nd wave = Tsunamis (Surf’s up, dudes?)
    • 3rd wave = Plague spread by birds (Told you birds were evil)
    • 4th wave = Silencers  – alien infested people who kill everyone
    • 5th wave = Dun dun Duuuunnn
  • Cassie has a crush on Ben Parish, this will become important later.
  • Cassie reminisces on how her mother died while she tries to survive. 
  • Cut to the refugee hideout where Cassie, her father and her brother stayed. Soldiers come in buses and take away Sammy. Then they turn and kill everyone in the camp except Cassie who escapes and vows to find her brother.
  • Zombie is in a refugee camp and he’s sick but recovering from an illness.
  • He learns that the aliens have infiltrated and posed as military personnel. He executes one of the alien infiltrators and joins a military resistance group comprised mostly of children and young adults.
  • Silencer has shot Cassie and is waiting for her to die.
  • Silencer chooses not to kill Cassie even though he is an alien and her enemy.
  • Cassie wakes up in a four-poster bed. Evan Walker has rescued her from her injury and is nursing her back to health.
  • Evan Walker falls in love with Cassie. This is obviously the best idea ever.
  • Cassie is suspicious of Evan Walker because, really, who does that?!
  • Cassie’s brother Sammy is taken into Camp Haven. These peeps are obviously teh evils. They poke him and prod him and LIE ABOUT EVERYTHING GODAMMNIT!
  • Ben Parish I MEAN ZOMBIE is going through bootcamp. It’s hard. He sweats and everything. He almost fails. It’s heartbreaking. And then he succeeds. Cause he keeps rollin’.
  • Zombie meets Sammy OOPS I MEAN PRIVATE NUGGET! (Confused yet?) Zombie helps him through bootcamp at Camp Haven. Which is more like Camp This-is-a-lot-of-pushups.
  • Zombie meets Ringer. Cue love-hate relationship as Ringer goes about kicking Zombie’s butt in absolutely everything. Zombie has a boohoo.
  • Cassie starts to suspect that Ben Walker really isn’t on the level. Oh noes! But he’s hot!
  •  Zombie goes on mission with Ringer to kill all alien infested pretenders.
  • Ringer slaps sense into Zombie until he realizes that Camp Haven is really an alien installation to train humans to kill their own kind. That they, the humans trained to unwittingly kill other humans, are the 5th Wave! It takes a long, long time for him to wrap his head around this concept.
  • Ringer, Zombie and their gang head back to Camp Haven to do some damage and get some revenge.
  • After Evan Walker gets himself shot up a bit, Cassie finally realizes he’s not human but is, in fact, a Silencer. She takes this news well. By beating the crap out of him and running for her life.
Run, Cassie!  RUN!
  • Cassie and Evan eventually build a bridge and get over it. Cassie leaves to go rescue her brother leaving an injured Evan behind.
  • Cassie infiltrates Camp Haven looking for Sammy only to find out that Evan still followed her to help even though it means almost certain death for him and betrayal of his people. Romantic much?
  • Zombie has also infiltrated Camp Haven and is looking for Nugget, who is Sammy. Sheesh this kid is popular.
  • Cassie finds Sammy.
  • Ben AND Cassie AND Sam all meet up together. It’s one big happy reunion.  Then everything goes FUBAR.
  • Evan comes in and kicks ALL the ass.
  • Evan blows up Camp Haven. Cassie, Ben, Sammy and Ringer make it out alive.

how did it end?

The military training base, Camp Haven, that Zombie, Ringer and Nugget attend turns out to be an alien attempt to launch the 5th Wave which is humans trained to hunt down other humans.
Cassie, Evan, Ringer and Ben all head back to Camp Haven to rescue Sammy/Nugget and to bring down the alien installation.
Evan blows up the military institute at Camp Haven. Cassie, Ben, Sammy and Ringer all make it out alive but Evan’s eventual fate is not revealed, as he had to be in the institute to blow it up.


  • Erin says:

    Loved this!! Reading The Infinite Sea now!

  • katie f. says:

    You are the best! Funny, accurate, and super-helpful! I started to read The Infinite Sea but then thought…I have no idea what happened in The Fifth Wave?!! Enter Recaptains! A definite life-saver!

  • Ahh! Thank you so much! You guys are the best 🙂 much love many thanks <3

  • Thank you!! Couldn’t read The Infinite Sea without this refresher first! 🙂

  • Erika says:

    Thank you! Totally forgot all of that happened at the end of the book! I appreciate the recap!

  • I made it 2 chapters into Infinite Sea before I gave up and headed over here. I’d forgotten who EVERYONE was!

  • Tabby says:

    Thanks! Saved the day yet again!

  • Tessa Miller says:

    This wa such a big help to remember what happened in the 5th wave. Thank you so much!

  • Abby M says:

    Thanks! You made it super funny and I loved it! It was a big help.

  • Nathalia says:

    OH MY GOD THAT IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO INCREDIBLE! Seriously, REALLY funny recap, and does clear things up. Oh, God. I was about to read The Infinite Sea and reading this reminds me I didn’t remember anything. GOTTA REREAD :>

  • Aysha says:

    Loved this, and quite a few of the other recaps you’ve done! Could you please do a recap for the second book, Infinite Sea next?

  • Kelly says:

    This recap is arguably the funniest that I have read on this site thus far. Way to be great!

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