When The “5th Wave” hits theaters nationwide Friday, it will be the first time that film audiences will get to see author Rick Yancey’s words come to life on the silver screen. In the adventure sci-fi thriller, four waves of increasingly deadly attacks have left most of Earth decimated.
Cassie, who is on the run and trying to save her brother, is preparing for the fifth and lethal wave and must decide how much she can trust a young man to help her.
The Observer recently spoke to Yancey.
Q. When you were writing this book, did you have a feeling that the film industry would want to pick it up?
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A. I knew that it was very cinematic in tone and scope and I knew it was a really big story. I sold the book on proposal to the publisher and after that, my theatrical agent started shopping it around in Hollywood before the book was completed. But I didn’t let it affect my character choices or how I felt the story should go.
Q. I understand you were present throughout the production in Georgia as a consultant. How did that go?
A. One experience on set was when they were making mockups of driver’s licenses and they asked me, “What is Cassie’s middle name again?” And my mind went totally blank. And they all stared at me like, “I don’t know if this guy wrote the book.”
There were some meetings about characters, about certain plot developments beyond the first movie. They had questions about whether certain things happening in the first movie would contradict what happened in the second book. I saw myself as a cheerleader on set. I didn’t tell them how to make the movie because I don’t know anything about making movies.
Q. What can your readers expect when they view this movie? A close adaptation or surprises throughout?
A. I haven’t seen the film yet. I’m seeing it tonight. From the script versions that I’ve seen and from what I saw being filmed and the very few clips that I’ve viewed, it’s very true to the spirit of the book.
All of the things that appealed to me from the story itself and what I put in the story, is it 100 percent in the film? Absolutely not. But the main guts of the story are certainly all there. The filmmakers were very concerned about capturing the themes of the novel: family and trust and navigating a world that’s been totally blown apart.
Q. A team wrote the screenplay for The 5th Wave. What was it like to hand over your words, characters and plot to someone else?
A. You have some trepidation about letting your baby out there and having it morphed into something different. But even as an author, one of the things that’s so fun about what I do is that when you publish your book, the readers create the world inside their own minds. So in a sense, I’ve already given away that world.
Q. Was there anything specific that inspired you to write the book?
A. The original idea came from a couple of conversations with my wife. I had asked her what her greatest fear was because I think you should know that about the person you’re married to. And she surprised me by saying “aliens.” And she explained why: “If an alien ever abducted me, it would be a horrifying experience in itself but if I was lucky enough to return, no one would believe it.” That was the launching place.
Q. What is your main hope for your book's film adaptation?
A. I hope fans of the book are happy with it. Obviously since I wrote the book, I have high hopes that I will be happy with it. I think fans and the writer of the book will have to keep in mind that these are adaptations. It’s a whole different art form.
I hope the themes of trust and family and courage in the face of impossible odds – I hope that’s what people come away with after seeing the film. It’s a dark vision but there’s light and hope and some redemption in the story.