Chloe Grace Moretz had few worries about taking on the lead role in The 5th Wave, the latest of a long line of young adult film franchises.

The sci-fi thriller, based on the New York Times best-seller by Rick Yancey, is aimed at the same audience that has lapped up hugely popular series such as The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner and Twilight.

The 18-year-old Moretz is already established as an A-lister in her own right thanks to a run of films that includes the brilliant Matthew Vaughn comic book caper Kick-Ass and Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s beautiful homage to the history of film. In this latest release, directed by the up and coming J Blakeson and produced by a group including former Spider-man Toby Maguire, Chloe plays Cassie Sullivan, a girl-next-door type who finds herself fighting the odds after the Earth’s population has been decimated.

It may be a ‘Young Adult’ novel and movie, but Moretz was happy to take on the role – specifically because her character was more ‘human’ and less YA ‘hero’.

She said: “I read the book prior to even reading the script. I read the book before we had a director to do it. I was there at the very beginning of the process and for me, I felt very inclined to do the book an incredible amount of justice. Because I fell in love with the story through Rick’s eyes so when I read the script it was about keeping that voice of Cassie and who she is. And I think we did a good job in that.”

Follow-up story The Infinite Sea was also a NYT best seller while final book The Last Star is scheduled for later this year. Chloe sees the benefits in working closely with a book series.

“Some actors might see it differently but for me I enjoy having source material like a book – a good book. It gives you a type of insight that you don’t have to completely create in your own head and make up. As an actor, you can read it and be inside of their (the character’s) head and see that backstory without having to make up ‘exterior scenes’ to inform what they would be doing in the interior scene. It makes things a little easier and a lot more in-depth for the actor.”

In the movie, which has earthquakes, aliens and disease – all in the first quarter – humans are pushed to the very edge of extinction. It may be fiction, but there’s a message there for viewers.

Chloe’s Cassie is just one of a number of heroes who show heart and strength in the face of adversity, and she says: “I think a lot of it is about human perseverance. Even against all odds and no matter what your upbringing is, and how much strength you have, it is whether or not humans buck up to the task, and will they be able to jump back with those primal instincts and fight for their lives.

“Or has this tech world taken this instinct away from us? I think the answer is hopeful in a sense that yes, you can piece it back together, you cannot kill hope. That is what makes us who we are, what makes us human.”