Bookmarks and Big Screens: The 5th Wave

By Ellie Trebilcock

Is the book or the movie better?

It’s the most controversial topic between bookworms and movie-buffs. To resolve the long battle between these two passionate types of media consumers, I will compare and evaluate the quality of the book and movie versions of the story.



This month: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

When an alien ship appears in the sky in The 5th Wave, the world doesn’t know how to respond. The aliens or the “others” attack the earth in four waves which threaten to decimate the human race. The 5th Wave follows Cassie, Sam, Evan, and Ben who all survived the initial waves and must fight to live through the next attacks.

For me, The 5th Wave was like a giant puzzle. I started out with all the separate puzzle pieces and slowly, painstakingly fit them together. However, when I finally neared the  end of the puzzle, there was still multiple pieces missing.

To elaborate, the book can be a bit difficult to understand. Especially in the beginning when the storyline does not start off in a linear timeline. It takes a long time for the audience to learn many of the important details leading up to the alien apocalypse. I wish the author would have clearly stated the backstory instead of jumping around with the timeline.

The book also unexpectedly changes the point of view of the characters. After finishing one part of the book, I was expecting to stick with the same narrator. Instead, I found myself inside another character’s head. To add to my confusion, some of the characters’ identity are not immediately revealed when they are first introduced. Is it too much to ask for each character’s name to be stated before beginning their inner monologue?

After being left in the dark for much of the book, the reader is still left with more questions than answers by the end.


Hoping for additional insight, I sat down to watch the movie version of The 5th Wave. Here are some of my thoughts:


  • Quick and linear backstory


With all of my complaints about the book jumping around in the beginning with its timeline, the movie resolves that issue. At the beginning of the movie, there is a flashback which quickly brings the audience up to the speed on the background of the invasion. That wasn’t so hard was it, Rick Yancey?


  • Evan the savior?


To all of the people who have only watched the movie, Evan did not save Cassie from being killed by an “other.” In the book, Evan IS the “other” who shot Cassie in the leg. This is an essential plot point which was changed in the movie. Without it, the movie viewer can’t see his character growth later in the story.


  • Cassie has no information about the fort?


Is the audience supposed to believe that Cassie can infiltrate a highly secured fort without any help? In the novel, Cassie gets inside information about the fort from Evan. It seems a bit of a stretch that she would just happen to know the best way to gain access to the fort without any background information.

Final Rating:

Book- 3 ½ stars

Movie- 4 stars

The movie buffs are the clear winners this time around. The plot of movie version of The 5th Wave was straightforward and easy to follow. While I understand the author’s intention was to make the plot mysterious in order draw in the reader, it just made the plot more confusing than it had to be.




Meet the Interns: Ellie Trebilcock

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Me Before You

Bookmarks and Big Screens: Dances with Wolves

Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Giver

Bookmarks and Big Screens: The Da Vinci Code