'The 5th Wave' Is Based On a Book, & The YA Novel Is A Must-Read For Adults, Too

A new YA adaptation is here, and it's one not to be missed. The Fifth Wave , based on a book by Rick Yancey, could be the first installment of a planned trilogy, with the bestselling novel having been compared to books like The Hunger Games and The Road , among others. Don't just expect a familiar formula, though; the new movie, out Jan. 22, could actually be something very different than your typical YA fare — and much, much darker.

While teenagers all over the country are waiting with bated breath to see The Fifth Wave , which stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a 16-year-old trying to survive an alien invasion, adults who secretly dig YA (like me) also have a real treat to look forward to. Refreshingly, both The Fifth Wave novel and film are very much geared towards an adult audience as well as teens, as the central plot and themes are grounded in a reality that is often terrifyingly very much like our own. The current political landscape provides The Fifth Wave with an unprecedented urgency and real-world relevancy, with events like the Charlie Hebdo shooting and Paris terrorist attacks echoing the book and movie's own threats. So if you think that the film adaptation of The Fifth Wave is going to be yet another silly fantasy flick in the vein of Twilight, just with aliens swapped for vampires, guess again.

Yes, you can expect the familiar setting of a strong female protagonist struggling to survive in a dystopian world taken over by foreign creatures, but The Fifth Wave also explores pertinent issues of international terrorism, and in particular, the militarization of children towards political ends. Moretz plays Cassie Sullivan, a teen living in a world devastated by Waves that come in the form of massive earthquakes, tsunamis, a deadly virus, and finally a full-out alien invasion that knocks mankind back to the Stone Age. During the Fourth Wave, Cassie must save her young brother, Sam, from a militant training camp for children established by the Others (the aliens) in the woods, after the remaining adults are shot. This is, scarily, in line with terror groups' use of child soldiers, and transformation of them into weapons, today.

Perhaps even more chillingly, The Fifth Wave also deals with a terrorist agenda of racial and tribal purity. After kids like Sam are shipped off to these boot camps, they are (small spoilers) issued weapons, convinced by the Others that aliens have taken over humans, and are then expected to wipe out the rest of the human population. The kids are the Fifth Wave. Yikes.

So maybe the recent American teenage obsession with worldwide destruction and societal upheaval, particularly in YA novels and films like The Fifth Wave, might actually point to a greater anxiety also shared by many adults. Good thing we've got Moretz leading the resistance, as I'm expecting no less than for her to kick some serious alien-terrorist ass.

Images: Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures