Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review: The 100

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.   Quoted from Goodreads


I have mixed feelings about The 100.  Don't get me wrong.  I totally get why the CW decided to adapt this for television. We have four main characters, everyone has a secret, there's survival, life in space vs. returning to earth, lies, romance, a lot of teenagers running around without adult supervision, dystopia meets science fiction, etc. Something is always happening.  There are cliffhangers and flashbacks galore.  It's really perfect for television with seasons and seasons of episodes and plenty of material to play with, I can see this going far.

That's really part of the reason I decided to read it now.  I wanted to form my own opinions, get to know the characters for myself before the CW takes over my imagination.

Like I said before, there's lots of action, secrets, lies, etc.  All our main characters have been convicted, everyone is hiding something horrible, and it takes most of the book to find out what it is. Which was half my problem.  I loved the mystery aspect, but I had a hard time connecting with our main characters.  It doesn't help that we only get each one's POV ever four chapters.  The book's a fast read, but it wasn't a long time to make a real connection.  Then there are all the secrets.  Everyone's a bit shady, even if they did bad things for good reasons.  Everyone is broken.  It makes for great storytelling and intriguing characters, but at least for me, it made them hard to connect to.  

The ending was absolutely horrible. I'm all for cliff-hangers, but leaving each of our four main characters on a different sort of problem is just mean.  It's so exhausting that it's hard to really feel for them individually.  You just get a nice lump of dread in the pit of your stomach as the book ends.

I also wanted a little more world building.  The book was so short---okay 277 pages, but with two very different locations, multiple story lines, flashbacks,  and four POVs, it's hard to cram much in. We have forbidden love, a love triangle (note: these are two very different plots with different characters), survival on a "new" world, establishing a good group dynamic/organized labor/power play, medical emergencies, everyone's backstory to establish, etc. While it's all interesting (and again perfect for TV) this first book seemed a little rushed and everything was a tad underdeveloped for me.

Still, this is the sort of read that's hard to put down.  Something is always happening, secrets are spilled, discoveries made, and you have to keep turning pages.  Honestly, I'm intrigued to see where the author will take the rest of the series.  This book throws the reader into a much larger story, and I can see the next few books getting better and better.  For me, it's a nice, 3 stars. Really, it's got everything you look for in a book, I just wished it would have focused a little bit more, maybe concentrated on one or two story plots and really developed them.  But it's only the first book, like I said, and I'm excited to see what happens next. 

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