The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave Quotes and Analysis

You know how you can tell when you're getting close to one? The smell. You can smell a town from miles away. It smells like smoke. And raw sewage. And death.

Cassie, p. 39

In this quote, Cassie describes what it is like to wander around the country. She explains why she sticks to rural areas instead of towns. Towns and cities are polluted by dead bodies and the waste of the people of the past. They are less safe than the countryside, which is at least cleaner and somewhat less patrolled than the cities.

Not to kill us, though killing us - or most of us - is necessary. They're like a landlord who kicks out a deadbeat renter so he can get the house cleaned up for the new tenant; I think this has always been about getting the place ready.

Dad, p. 71

Dad explains to Cassie his theory about the Others, the aliens. Unlike other theories bandied about, Cassie's Dad sees nothing benevolent about the aliens. He believes that they are only there out of desperation, out of a need to survive themselves.

I had it all wrong... Before I found you, I thought the only way to hold on was to find something to live for. It isn't. To hold on, you have to find something you're willing to die for.

Evan Walker, p. 281

Evan says this to Cassie as he expresses his feelings for her. This quote encapsulates the motives of humanity for fighting against the Others, even in the face of death. They have something to die for - to preserve their legacy, to make sure they go down fighting.

Unbelievable. We're the vanguard. Seven kids who just six months ago were, well, just kids; we're the counterpunch to attacks that left seven billion dead.

Ben, p. 286

This quote reveals just how bad and dramatic the situation is. It allows the reader to feel the shock and uncertainty that Ben and the other kids in the squad must be feeling. It also gives us a moment of foreshadowing. It plants the idea in the reader's head to ask, is this really it? Just a few kids? There has to be a bigger story here. This is confirmed throughout the next few chapters. The kids are not the vanguard of humanity attacking back. They are the vanguard of the fifth wave, the soldiers who will unknowingly take out other humans.

I lit up after you pulled out the implant. The eyepieces don't pick up infestations. They react when there's no implant.

Ringer, p. 308

This quote illustrates a climatic moment in the story. Ben and Ringer realize that everything they have been told for the last six months is a lie. They are finally realizing what the truth is - that they are part of the fifth wave, and that they have just killed three humans, not three "infesteds" or Others.

"I can't leave him. I made a promise." I start to explain it, but I don't even know how to begin. How do I put it into words? It isn't possible. It's like locating the starting point of a circle. Or finding the first link in a silver chain. "I ran one time," I finally say. "I'm not running again."

Ben, p. 318

This quote demonstrates just how far Ben has come as a character. He has grown immensely throughout the course of the book, growing from a popular high school football star into an honorable man. He ran away when his sister died in the arms of robbers, but now, with Nugget, Cassie's little brother, he promises that he won't make the same mistake. He has learned from his mistakes and will make the right decision, no matter the cost to his personal safety.

Don't you get it yet? The minute we decide that one person doesn't matter anymore, they've won.

Ringer, p. 455

Ringer says this after the squad and Cassie succeed in rescuing Sammy. Ben criticizes Ringer for coming back for him, saying that they might be the only people who know about the fifth wave and that it was reckless of her to risk all their lives for just one person. Ringer points out that Ben did the same for Sammy. The only thing that humanity can do is band together, no matter how much they might not trust one another, or want to survive. They must have each other's backs or no one will survive.

It isn't about destroying our capability to fight so much as crushing our will to fight.

Vosch, p. 128

Vosch says this quote to Ben as he contemplates dying and giving up. Vosch, an Other posing as a human, convinces Ben to live and keep fighting. He knows how humans think because of his study of them through the program Wonderland. Vosch manipulates Ben and speaks to him as if he also was a human being. He empathizes and tells Ben not to focus on the nearly 7 billion people who died, but the few, the one that matters to him like Sissy.

"Cassie says it won't matter what they do," Nugget says. "They can't kill all of us... Because we're too hard to kill. We're invista... investra...invinta..."


"That's it!" With a reassuring pat on my arm. "Invincible."

Sammy to Ben, p. 234

This quote encapsulates the fact that humanity still has a chance. Because all the weak have been killed off, only the strong have survived, and they have a fighting chance if they stick together. It also shows that Cassie is a natural leader, instilling hope and bravery even in a five-year-old Sammy, who then pass it on to the despondent Ben.

"He doesn't see you as some of us do... as I do," he says. "To him, you're a disease that will kill its host unless it's wiped out."

"I'm a disease. That's what I am to you."

Evan to Cassie, p. 366

This quote illustrates the way in which the Others view the humans. They are expendable inhabitants of a planet that the Others need to survive, and thus can be eliminated. Evan says that he does not share this point of view and implies that other Others do not as well when he says "as some of us do." This foreshadows a possible conflict and aid for the humans in the next two sequels and opens up the possibility that there are factions and disunity among the Others as well. So far the Others have seemed like a perfect, monolithic, well-oiled machine, but through Evan's admission, we now know that this is not the case. This gives the humans even more reason to hope that they can defeat the Others in some way.

There will be no awakening.

Narrator, Intrusion 1995 (Prologue)

This quote not only opens the novel, but also serves as a foreshadowing of the devastation that is to come next: the woman remaining asleep as an extraterrestrial consciousness is being uploaded into the unborn baby within her, and the human race remaining unaware of the apocalytpic, extraterrestrial invasion that is to occur within the upcoming years.

I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running, not staying, but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity's last war, then I am the battlefield.

Cassie, Chapter 24

This quote is the final line to Part 1 in Cassie's perspective. The line provides great insight into Cassie's character. Her reference to herself as the battlefield for humanity's final war represents her acknowledgment of the uncertainty as to how many humans are left in the world, and that should there be none, the human race must end with a good fight. Readers observe her courageous nature as well as her recurring feelings of isolation, which become the driving force in her decision to continue to live as a representation for the fight for humanity.

I will teach you to love death. I will empty you of grief and guilt and self-pity and fill you up with hate and cunning and the spirit of vengeance. I will make my final stand here, Benjamin Thomas Parish. Slapping my chest over and over until my skin burns, my heart on fire. And you will be my battlefield.

Ben, Chapter 30

This quote serves as a clear parallel to Cassie's quote in Part 1 by being the final line in Part 2. Readers can compare and contrast Cassie and Ben through this brief insight into Ben Parish's drive in the fight for humanity. Rather than discovering the motivation to fight on, himself, Commander Vosch instills that motivation within him, with the promise of Ben becoming his battlefield. This also foreshadows the discovery of the truth of Vosch, Camp Haven, and the manipulation of children by the Others into becoming the means for the violent eradication of the human race.

"I didn't save you," he whispers, lips tickling my eyelashes. "'You saved me."

Evan, Chapter 36

Evan's sincerity in his claim that Cassie has saved him hints to the reader the possibility that Evan may be one of the Others, particularly the Silencer who shot Cassie during the stand-off at the freeway, whom readers observe to have developed a strong fondness and appreciation for her, regardless of the nature of who he was.

"Fear," she whispers in my ear, as if she's sharing a secret. "For the gazelle, fear of being eaten. For the lion, fear of starvation. Fear is the chain that binds them together."

Ringer, Chapter 50

Fear is revealed to the reader as the driving force for humans in the fight against the Others, including for Ringer.