15 Book to Movie Changes in ‘The 5th Wave’ Movie (MOVIE SPOILERS)

The 5th Wave is pretty loyal to the book, but there were still many changes. Did you catch them?


Cassie, Evan, Ben, Ringer–yes, they all made it into the movie. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t some characters from Rick Yancey’s book that weren’t cut from the film. Not only that, but we couldn’t help but notice a handful of key differences between The 5th Wave movie and book.

With that said, this is the case of The 5th Wave movie vs the book! We counted 15 differences in all. What were some that stuck out to you?

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Here are all The 5th Wave movie differences!


1. Cassie killing the soldier.

5th Wave Cassie and the soldier

In both the book and movie, we open with a scene where Cassie enters an old convenience store and stumbles upon a wounded man. In each version, she ends up shooting the man as he pulls out a crucifix. She mistook the crucifix for a gun. The scenes are almost completely identical in both the movie and book, with one small change. The man is identified as a soldier in the book. In the movie, there’s nothing suggesting that he’s a soldier.

2. The order in which Cassie tells the story is slightly different.

In the book, Cassie slowly gives you the background tidbits about the past–everything leading up to the 5th Wave. However, the way in which the waves were presented was changed in the movie. After the scene with a soldier, Cassie spends time telling you everything straight through, rather than bit by bit intertwined with the present. The backstory does eventually reach the present in the movie, and from there we move forward.

This isn’t a huge change. It makes sense for the filmmakers to mix things up a bit for the sake of the movie’s pacing.

3. There’s no Crisco.

A fairly important character in the book is cut from the movie. When Cassie and her family arrive at Camp Ashpit, she comes across a greasy haired (and downright creepy) kid nicknamed Crisco. When the army arrives at the camp, Cassie ends up (not realizing the nature of the military) leading a silencer to Crisco who is then killed in front of her.

4. Vosch doesn’t specifically kill Cassie’s father.

5th Wave Cassie and her father

When the soldiers begin killing the adults at Camp Haven, Cassie witnessing Colonel Vosch killing her father by shooting him in the head. In the movie, this isn’t actually seen. Instead, there’s a huge commotion among the adults that eventually escalates into the massacre seen in the books. However, when Cassie sees this happening, she runs away and doesn’t actually see her father’s murder like she does in the book. We don’t know if Vosch specifically kills Cassie’s dad in the movie.

5. Cassie isn’t rescued from a blizzard.

5th Wave Evan and Cassie

Originally, after being shot, Cassie eventually makes her way to a car and goes inside to seek refuge from a blizzard. She eventually passes out and this is the point where Evan takes her back to his home. But in the movie there’s no blizzard. Cassie simply passes out shortly after being shot. Evan does still rescue her at this point.

6. Ben’s family is killed by the plague.

In the book, we learn that Ben’s family was killed during an attack at his home. In the movie, Ben mentions that his parents died from the plague during the Third Wave and that his sister died from the earthquakes. He got sick himself, but he survived it.

7. We don’t see Ben at the refugee camp.

In the book, we also learn that Ben spends time in a refugee camp where he makes a friend named Chris. This is during the time that he is infected with the plague. In the movie, we never see Ben at the camp. Chris is completely cut out of the movie.

8. Ben doesn’t (appear) to kill Chris.

Ben Parish in The 5th Wave Movie

Speaking of Chris, in the book the Others do trick Ben into killing a kid once arriving at the base. They tell him that the kid is infected with an alien and “prove” this by having him look through their special scope. Where the movie differs is in identifying who the kid is. In the book he’s actually Ben’s good friend Chris. In the movie, he’s just some random kid. If this kid is Chris, it’s never indicated.

9. Sergeant Reznik is a woman.

5th Wave movie Reznik

Reznik essentially plays the same role in the movie as in the books. However, unlike the books, Reznik is a woman in the book. She’s played by actress Maria Bello. Of note, Reznik doesn’t come off as incredibly difficult or vicious in the movie like he does in the book. In the books, many of the recruits strongly hate Reznik. They’re mostly indifferent toward her in the movie. Also worth mentioning, in the movie, Reznik fills the role of the female doctor who screens the children at Camp Haven.

10. There’s no Wonderland.

Originally, when arriving at Camp Haven, Ben and the other children and teenagers are run through a program called Wonderland. The program is technology supposedly stolen from the aliens that allows them to map out minds. Ben’s Wonderland results set him apart from the rests, thus making him one of Vosch’s main targets. Wonderland is completely cut from the movie.

11. Ben doesn’t really “evolve” into Zombie.

5th Wave Ben Parish is Zombie

In the movie, when Ben arrives at the base, Reznik quickly gives him the nickname of Zombie. This is because he comes out of the plague looking nearly dead. While it’s true that in the book Ben is referred to as a zombie while at the refugee camp, he doesn’t really take on the name for a while. It’s something he slowly grows into. But the movie just gives him the name right off the bat.

12. Sammy doesn’t pray.

5th Wave Cassie with her brother Sammy

Sammy and Cassie often prayed together in the books. Later, when he’s at the base, Sammy goes to Ben each night because he has trouble sleeping. Like Cassie did, Ben prays with Sammy. In the movie, the prayer is replaced with Cassie singing to her brother. There is a scene where Sammy and Ben sing together, but it looks as though this is a one-time deal.

13. No confrontation with Tank.

Sammy’s dependence on Ben causes some friction in Squad 53–especially with Tank. Yet in the movie, this confrontation is pretty much non-existent. In the movie, the only real tension in Squad 53 comes from Ringer’s hard personality.

14. The implants don’t kill.

After realizing that the military is actually made up of the Others, Squad 53 attacks Reznik. In this scene, we learn that the implants can be set off to kill the person they’re implanted in. This feature of the implants isn’t present in the movie.

15. Ringer doesn’t kill Reznik.

5th Wave Ringer and Reznik

When Reznik tries to kill Squad 53 through their implants, Ringer is the one who shoots and kills him. In the movie, Reznik is instead taken down by Cassie at the base with the cord of a computer mouse.

Did you catch a difference that we missed? Tell us in the comments!


Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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  • Aubree Lassiter • 8 years ago

    Evan’s eyes in the movie weren’t chocolate brown…

  • Anonymous • 8 years ago

    In the book Evan shot Cassie, in the movie, he shot the person shooting at her.

  • Kala • 8 years ago

    Cassie was not allowed to get on the bus in the book but she was in the movie she just left back off to get Sammy’s bear

    • Aaron Hyde • 8 years ago

      Preceding the way too Hollywood “girl chase bus scene”

  • Kala • 8 years ago

    Sammy never met the sick person on the bus on his way to Camp Haven

  • Jessica Murillo • 8 years ago

    Evan never told Cassie your a Mayfly

  • Gabe Michael • 8 years ago

    Cassie’s personality in the movie is way differently than the book. (school)

    She’s basically a nobody in the book. (school)

  • Gabriela Aguilar • 8 years ago

    Y’all mentioned that the confrontation with Tank wasnt mentioned, but there’s also the fact that they completely got rid of the scene where they dispose of dead bodies and after Tank goes “Dorothy” they see a body that they believe is his. The entire squad is barely introduced and it’s hard to feel as emotionally attached to any of them.

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    evan never lefted the house in the middle of the night and they didn’t stay at evans house for that long. they didn’t kiss at evans house they kissed in the car. evan never got naked. she doesn’t find her gun in the barn in the movie. she doesn’t think he is other in the movie. evan didn’t shot cassie in the movie. there wasn’t 3 people dead on the highway that evan killed in the movie. also cassie personality was way different in the book then the movie. also nugget doesn’t get food posion in the book he has to stay behind. also when ben and ringer take out the implants they are with the whole group. in the book when ben blows up the bus but in the movie it was ringer. and in the book teacup gets shot at. they never show unit 53 at their job. ben is never promoted to sergent. in the book ben said everyone died in his unit but in the book she says something way different.

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    Evan never oftered to go get Sammy for Cassie In the movie. they never set the house on fire. Evan never visted vals house.

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    also even never showed Cassie how to take the gun away in the book. also in the movie she see Evan in the lake that never happened

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    teacup never hugs ringers leg in the book

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    ben never got to choose if he would stay at the base or go to war. ben never made a promise to nugget. in the book nugget would climb into bens bed and pray, that never happened in the movie.

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    Cassie kisses Evan first in the movie but in the book it is the other way around

  • jayda • 6 years ago

    in the book the helicopter that drops unit 53 off doesn’t land but in the movie it dies

  • Me • 3 years ago

    In a book Cassie and Evan kisses many times. In a movie there quite big suggestion that they had sex in the car.
    In the book Evan shows Cassie whole truth about The Others by kissing her deeply. In movie he only says “I am the other and I am not the other”.