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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The 100

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: The 100

The 100
The Hundred, Book 1

Author: Kass Morgan
Pages: 277
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Read: August 24, 2013
Source: ARC from YA Books Central

Description from Goodreads:
In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

First Sentence: "The door slid open, and Clarke knew it was time to die."

The 100 has been billed as Battlestar Galactica for teens, and, for once, I totally agree with the marketing. Of course, it's very much season 3 Battlestar where things started going a bit off the rails, with some people on planet in weird costumes and Gaius Baltar becoming some sort of religious figure on the ships. I mean, not exactly, but that's the level of quality the book has. It's not the first season of awesome, and it's not quite the ending where I didn't know what the fuck was happening anymore. What it comes down to is that The 100 is a highly entertaining drama-fest set in space, but not especially deep.

Word on the street is that The 100 is set to be a show on the CW. Now, I don't know if it's for certain yet or not, but I can see this making a really great teen show. The reason I'm starting this book review with this particular comment is to help you understand whether you'll enjoy reading the book. If you enjoy CW teen programming with a little bit of a plot and a big heaping helping of teen angst over the top, then The 100 is a good choice for a quick, entertaining read.

Morgan uses four third person limited perspectives in The 100: Clarke, Wells, Bellamy, and Glass. Just try and guess their genders based on their names alone! Hint: the first and last are females. Actually, speaking of gender, that's one of the things that I think The 100 did fairly well. Women are not entirely marginalized in this futuristic society, which is a nice change from so much science fiction and dystopian stuff out there. Clarke's actually one of the stronger characters and Glass, though I didn't like her, does make choices for herself.

Anyway, these teens live on a spaceship and things are kind of a hot mess on board. There are rules about who can have kids, and capital punishment is really popular with the government. All four of the main characters, except for Bellamy, are Confined, basically imprisoned until their eighteenth birthdays which are rapidly approaching. At that point, they're to have a retrial, but that's just a formality, because no one's being found innocent at retrials anymore. Harsh, man.

So the point is that 100 of the teens from Confinement are going to be put on a ship and sent to earth to make sure it's habitable again (more on that later). Then there are some shenanigans and Glass ends up staying on the ship, allowing the reader to find out about all of the drama happening there, and Bellamy gets himself onto the prison ship. The ship goes down to earth and the rebellious teens start in on the romantic drama and trying to set up a rudimentary society, only they're a) rebellious and b) basing their knowledge of how society works off of the ship. All of this means things get pretty serious fast and it's totally a popcorn read.

What saves The 100 from being merely a surface read and builds out a bit of depth are the flashbacks in every chapter. These flashbacks show how the teens ended up in Confinement, and slowly reveal how desperate the situation on the ship had gotten. They really raise the stakes and the intensity, as you realize how far each one of these teens is willing to go.

As much fun as The 100 is to read, I had some issues with the world building, in that I would like more of it. I mean, the reader does learn that there was some sort of nuclear something or other and Earth is now irradiated. While they're waiting for the radiation to dissipate, they're chilling on this ship. Supposedly the radiation is maybe down to livable levels. What I want to know is roughly how long they've been on the ship and how they got there. Was there a plan in place to escape before things went haywire like in Phoebe North's Starglass? There's really no inkling of that.

Also, most of the characters are pretty terrible people, which means that I really don't care if they live or die. Even the nicest of them is such a terrible judge of character that I don't really care what happens to him either. I still had fun reading about them, but there's definitely no emotional investment here.

The 100 is the bookish equivalent of a teen TV show, complete with romantic drama, shirtless boys and action scenes. It's fun and a nice choice for when you don't want to have to think too hard, and sometimes that's just the kind of book you need, you know?

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "Anyone who wanted to eat vegetables probably had little, mushy white brains themselves."

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Blogger Lili said...

Ugh I did smirk at that favorite quote.

I think this book was written LIKE a tv show. It's going to be a promising show that has visual representation and effects to explain all of the problems in our book because there wasn't detail. It was just very quick because the book was like a script instead of a book.

I also enjoyed the world-building but wanted more. And while I think the flashbacks were helpful, they were at times lengthy since they legitimately cut off a thought in the middle of it. By the time some of them were over (I think I struggled with Glass's most) I tended to forget the previous thought and had to re-read the last few lines.

August 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm actually really excited for this one despite all of the negative hype surrounding it. Awesome review! The quote you picked is just so awesome and so ridiculous. This definitely sounds like a guilty pleasure read. Btw, I think The 100 is a midseason show for The CW so it airs in January? I'm not sure!
-Scott Reads It

August 27, 2013 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Giselle said...

I did read this book, but that first line is kind of awesome! It's pretty for certain - the TV show - it has a trailer and everything: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Qsm88H1rrc and it looks really good! The trailer also said they've only been in space for 97 years (the book said they were on the shop for 300 years - which you may have missed? It was only mentioned once I think) so it won't be exactly the same, but it does look like it was meant to be a show - like, I think the show will be more successful that the book.

I pretty much felt the same about this one as you did, I had a lot of fun reading it, but it lacked depth and I found it concentrated too much on the romantic aspect. I did appreciate the flashbacks which gave us glances at the life on the ship but then again it was the romance stories on the forefront.

And yes, these kids are cruel SOBs!! I really liked the ending though I knew the earth could not be just empty.

August 27, 2013 at 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh I think this show is going to be a really awesome one, especially with all the drama happening during the book. I agree, I loved the flashbacks they really did add a lot of depth to the story. And I don't think I remembered not liking the world-building or wanting more of it, but I can definitely see why you would. But I'm really glad that you found the females pretty strong, which is definitely a nice contrast from the usual sci-fis and dystopians :)

Fantastic review, Christina!

August 27, 2013 at 5:23 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I got this from Giselle when we met in Boston!! It sounds interesting, but I have to admit that the CW show thing makes me lower my expectations a lot. I am not a teen drama show person most of the time. (With the exception of Twisted. I am a bit obsessed with that one lol) It sounds like it's very fast paced and an entertaining read though. I'm hoping that I like it. Third person is hit or miss with me, especially when there are a lot of characters and more miss when they are all horrible. Fabulous review hon!!

August 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM  

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