The 5th Wave


Plot Summary

The 5th Wave takes place in an alternative present-day reality in which an alien race known only as “the Others” is systematically annihilating humanity in order to inhabit Earth themselves. The central protagonist is sixteen-year-old Cassie Sullivan, who is on a mission is to rescue her five-year-old brother, Sammy, from a military compound run by the Others. This compound, called Camp Haven, is one of many locations where the Others—who look and sound exactly like humans, rendering them impossible to identify—are putting the 5th Wave of their annihilation plan into action. At Camp Haven, young humans are brainwashed into believing that the Others are human and that their fellow humans are Others. In this way, an army of traumatized, isolated children is being trained as the instrument of humanity’s ultimate destruction.

As the novel opens, Cassie is hiding out alone in the woods outside of Cincinatti, Ohio. She has been on her own ever since her young brother was taken from Camp Ashpit, a refugee camp where a large number of plague-infected human bodies were burned. After Sammy was moved to Camp Haven, Cassie’s father was shot dead by Colonel Vosch, the alien leader who appeared to be a trustworthy member of the U.S. military. After Mr. Sullivan’s murder, Cassie witnesses Colonel Vosch placing a bomb referred to as “the Eye” in the middle of Camp Ashpit and blowing it to smithereens. Cassie has been hiding in the woods ever since, unable to figure out how to rescue her brother but determined to do so. She tells us that humanity is now in the 4th Wave of the alien destruction, which is characterized by stealthy assassins who are indistinguishable from humans. Because the Others look and sound human, Cassie tells us that the first rule of the 4th Wave is: Trust no one. The second rule is: Stay alone if you want to stay alive.

In flashbacks, Cassie describes the first three waves of the alien invasion, which come in rapid succession. First, a strange mother ship hovers visibly near Earth for ten days...

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