One of my favorite recent dystopian novels is The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. I picked it up on a whim and wasn’t disappointed. It had my personal favorite components: end of the world, strong female protagonist, dreamy-yet-slightly-stalkerish mystery guy, other not-quite-a-love triangle guy, complicated plot.
These are the ingredients for a great book. These are also the ingredients that make for a difficult movie adaptation.
The Fifth Wave movie starts out strong. The effects are good. The acting, in my opinion is very good. But unfortunately the screenwriters decided to go off script on some small things that are actually the things that sort of make the story different, watering it down until it’s just another dystopian story that’s okay but not great.
This is where reviewing a book to movie that you’ve read gets tricky. As the title of the blog states, you can’t un-ring a bell. You go into the movie knowing it won’t be as good (I mean, they rarely are), but you’re just hoping for the director and screen writer to get it right.
Oh please, you think, just get it right.
This isn’t my first adaptation. I mean, we’ve got Harry Potter and The Hunger Games obviously. Both stellar efforts. There are weaker attempts, Mortal Instruments (eh, they tried, unlike the new show which they are definitely NOT trying), The Maze Runner (which I liked a lot), Divergent (I read these…well until I tossed book 3 aside at 40%. I haven’t seen them yet), The Book Thief, Water for Elephants, and of course, Twilight.
Confession/: I was once pretty involved in the Twilight Fandom./End Confession
Okay ha, I’ll explain a bit more. I was actually one of those rare Twilight fans before the movies came out. Before, the final book even. I was very excited about the movies…which as we all know…*shakes head*
The Twilight Saga Phenomenon is sort of my problem with reviewing adaptations. See on one end you have the amazing end product of The Hunger Games or Harry Potter. Really well made, well thought out, excellently executed films that gave us the story we wanted to see, actors that fully embraced their characters and a solid resolution. On the opposite end we have Twilight which gave us terrible movies, and I never saw Breaking Dawn because I’d rather have my eyes dug out with a fork.
So right. Where does The Fifth Wave fall into this?
Somewhere right below Maze Runner and a world apart from Twilight. In reality, I don’t know if The Fifth Wave is a good movie or not. It’s hard to tell when you know the source material and can fill in the blanks. It’s hard not to judge the screenwriters for leaving out important details for not so important details (these details do not include Alex Roe–aka Evan Walker–shirtless in a lake, because that was not in the book and thankyouforaddingitokay). It’s also unfortunate that screen writers and directors tend to phone it in when the original work is YA, which makes us even more appreciative of the movies that do nail it.
My review rating is a 3/5. They got enough right and the actors were good, which brought up the entire thing. They get two negatives for taking out stuff that should have been left in because it mattered to the entire theme and tone of the movie. I will say that one reason I love these books is they go pretty deep into the minds of the characters (alt POVS) which makes it even harder to narrow down into two movies. I credit Rick Yancey for writing something that good.
Angel Lawson is the author of a slew of books including her own take on a dystopian, end of the world scenario called Zocopalypse. Read it and judge her as harshly as she judges everyone else.