Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan
Release date: September 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: #1 in the The Hundred series
Source: Borrowed from Lili by way of Montana
Rating: Whelmed.

The 100 (The Hundred, #1)

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.

The cover: I find this cover really visually appealing, and it definitely captures the romantic-sci-fi vibe that the book has going on.

The story: I will watch almost any TV show on the CW, whether it has vampires or love triangles or super heroes or really hot, shirtless people (they all have really hot, shirtless people).

You're welcome.

 So when I heard that one of their new fall shows was based off a new fall book, I knew I had to get in on this business. Especially because the book is sci-fi, and I love sci-fi, and the trailer looks awesome.

Warning: trailer may spoil some aspects of the novel.

Space stations! Delinquents! Earth as a wild, unihabited wilderness! Romance! Shenanigans! Corruption! The fate of humanity! Yessssss.

I was sold by the premise (Earth is toxic and has been uninhabited for a couple centuries. All the humans live in a web of space stations that are highly stratified by class). And while I blazed through this book in basically one sitting (it's only 277 pages and the pacing is zippy), I was ultimately disappointed in the fact that this book had no impact. It should have been awesome and intense. Big dramatic THINGS were happening. But the author didn't take it to the places it should have gone (and to the places the show seems like it may go). Honestly? I couldn't care less about any of the characters. They had interesting back stories, and they did interesting things, but they just didn't grab me. This book utterly failed to make me connect.

This book is written in a close-ish third person. We start off in the POV of Clarke, a girl who's been Confined for a crime and whose parents have been executed. Underage kids who commit crimes get put in these cells at the bottom of the space station until they turn eighteen and are then re-tried. Almost all are found guilty and executed. Clarke thinks they're coming to kill her early, but--surprise!--she and one hundred other delinquents are being sent back to the abandoned, radioactive wasteland known as Earth to see if it's ready to be lived in again. Clarke, while a decent viewpoint character, is grave, earnest, intelligent, and ever so dull.

We then hop over into the third person POV of Wells, the boy who lurrrrrves Clarke EVER SO MUCH. He's the son of the Chancellor, so he's able to find out about the secret Earth landing and the fact that his former lady love is one of the hundred. So he commits a heinous crime to ensure that he goes to Earth with her. I can't tell you what it is he does to ensure his going to Earth, but let me just say that ONE GIRL IS NOT WORTH THAT. NOBODY IS WORTH THAT. YOU... YOU... UGH. Say it with me, kids. When faced with the option to a) be there emotionally and physically for an ex-girlfriend who hates your guts, or b) save all of humanity, PLEASE SAVE HUMANITY. PLEEEEEASE.


 So yeah, Wells super loves Clarke and it's super boring. Luckily for us, there's a third POV character, Bellamy, who's by far the most interesting of the bunch. He's not technically one of the hundred, but his sister is, so, like Wells, he does what he can to ensure he's on that drop ship. His personality was the most vivid, and while he unfortunately decided to fall in love with Clarke (who has red hair and a reluctant-but-magical smile, naturally), I most enjoyed being in his head, learning about his troubled, underprivileged background and his (often blind) devotion to his sister. He's also the only one who decides learning how to hunt might be a good idea.

And then we get the FOURTH POV character, Glass, Wells' female best friend. Yes. There are four main characters, which isn't a problem for me, but in a book this short, there just wasn't time for me to connect to all four, and so I connected to none of them. Their mental voices were bascially interchangeable, except for Bellamy. Glass is a perfectly fine character with a perfectly ridiculous name. She's supposed to be one of the hundred, but she escapes and stays on the space station so she can make amends with her boring, wrong-side-of-the-tracks boyfriend, Luke, who she also super loves. I'm tired of characters starting books off already super in love.

The problem with the two central love stories (Wells-Clarke and Luke-Glass) is that we never got to see them fall in love, so I literally did not give a flaming fruitcake if they made it or not. Wells and Glass love their counterparts more than life itself, and that is just not that interesting. At least Clarke knows the two boys who like her are the very least of her problems, and at least Bellamy knows that his own sister is way more important this his crush on Clarke. I was marginally more invested in Luke-Glass, since they did have some really tragic back story, but too much of this book was romantical angsting, and not enough of it was awesome Earth exploration and space station shenanigans.

This is how I feel about unnecessary romantical angsting.

Which brings me to the part of this book that works like gangbusters: the plot. Well, the basic plot's premise, anyway. It's aces. There are secret revelations, evil chancellors, unauthorized shenanigans--all the science fiction elements I wanted. Almost every chapter features a lengthy flashback, which I ended up loving, since the gradual unveiling of the characters' skeleton-jammed closets. THe world-building is pretty darn solid, though I still have a million questions. This book should have been a hundred pages longer so that we could know more. More about the space station, more about the other delinquents on the ground (we literally know only seven or eight of them by name), just... more.

The stuff on Earth with the delinquents really didn't go where it should have, though. There were hints of some Lord of the Flies stuff, but that kind of fizzled out. Sometimes I got the feeling this book was written just so there could be a TV show, since the visuals and character setups were dynamite and the execution was blah. The focus was on romance and angst, though sometimes the plot ended up creating terrific character moments. There are certain set pieces and ideas here that blew me away. If this has all been happening to characters I loved, this easily could have been a five star review. Alas and alack, I am, as they are in Europe, whelmed.

It's almost, almost, almost a great book and then... not.


  1. Okay, I had no idea that this was going to be a TV show, but I'm already all for it, because it has Desmond in it! I LOVE me some Desmond! Also, the book sounds like it was good, but just not very fleshed out. I'd still like to read it though, even with all of the super love. You should trade mark that ish!

  2. Whoa, usually I'm a pretty avid shirtless-show watcher, how did I miss this trailer? I'm glad I read your review first, thanks for the fantastic & witty insights (& perfect images/GIFs!) Loved it! Hilarious :)

  3. I'm one of the few who heard of the TV show before the book, and so I was super interested in reading your review. Loved it btw. Awesome gifs. I hope the show has more action and less romantic angst. I'm not going to read the book so I can enjoy the show without knowing what happens next (this is a big deal to me) and I'm hoping it's awesome!

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

  4. It's going to be a TV show?!? I must watch this! The way you explained the MC and the writing style makes the novel sounds kind of boring but the plot sounds really good! I think I'll have t check this one out. Great review! I love the gifs you added, they're so fun!

  5. I have an ARC of this one and was really anticipating it, but now I'm not so sure.. Hopefully I'll still enjoy it though! And I'm definitely planning on watching the TV show, I saw the trailer even before I heard of the book!

    Richa @ City of Books

  6. "ONE GIRL IS NOT WORTH THAT. NOBODY IS WORTH THAT. YOU... YOU... UGH. Say it with me, kids. When faced with the option to a) be there emotionally and physically for an ex-girlfriend who hates your guts, or b) save all of humanity, PLEASE SAVE HUMANITY."
    why god why does this keep reappearing? I really don't understand.

    Holy whiz. Four main characters and two love stories in 200 something pages?? It's no wonder neither was fully developed to your tastes.

    It kind of seems like this book is similar to the TVD books. They're somewhat "meh" - interesting world, set up the characters we know and love, but ask most people and they'll take the t.v. show over the books. I'm really looking forward to seeing that world-building in action. Hopefully a lot of the issues you pointed out, like character and romance development, will be fixed when they're on screen together.

    PS - *stares at gif*
    You know which one.

  7. Oh, the CW, home of pretty boys constantly in need of shirts. I get sucked into their shows so easily (Hello Winchester boys. Don't mind me, I'm just ogling over Dean...) and from what you have to say... this seems like it would be a good fit for the channel.

    I am intrigued -- and have been since the buzz about this got started -- but I am... wary now. Four POVs. Two love stories? Ughhhhhhh this does not a compelling case make. If I don't care about characters, you can be damn sure I won't care about who is in love with who, etc. Whom? *shakes fist at grammar rule I can never remember* *and am too lazy to google*

    I wish books with dire circumstances would focus on death-defying feats of derring do, and less on twue wuv. Love isn't everything. If you love someone and don't know how to hunt in a non industrialized world.. YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. SLOWLY. PAINFULLY. (Or fasy, from eating poisoned berries/mushrooms/WHATEVER.) And you won't be rhapsodizing over someone's perfect but reluctant smile while you do so.

    Anyway. Great review. I will watch the tv show and wait for discounted copy of the book. :D

  8. I’m cautiously intrigued by both the show and book. A few thoughts/questions
    1. Is there much action from the adults in the book? It seems like the show will almost be two different shows, on the Earth and on the station. But your review said that Clarke’s parents are dead, while her mother is alive in the show.
    2. Interesting that Luke and Glass were two of the characters that made some impression on you. As far as I can tell, they don’t exist on the show.
    3. I’m curious, does the character of Finn exist in the books? I might be getting ahead of myself, but I get some creator’s pet vibes from him in the trailer. He might be a hard sell to readers if he’s there in place of characters from the book.
    4. Speaking of Finn, it seems clear from the trailer that he will be falling for Clarke. I assume the history will still be there with Wells, so maybe Bellamy’s feelings for her won’t be part of the show?
    5. As concerned as I am about Finn being a creator’s pet, that concern is tripled when it comes to Bellamy’s sister, Octavia. From the clips and trailer that I’ve seen, I find her incredibly annoying. And stupid too given that she decides, apparently after seeing a mutated deer, to go swimming in some dark water that anything could be lurking in. And sure enough, something looks to be attacking her. Is it bad that I’m cheering for the creature? Anyway, my concern is that, given her history of being locked up just for being an illegal second child, that the viewers will be asked to sympathize with her as she annoys us (or at least me). But you comment about Bellamy’s devotion to her being blind does give me some hope that she is not meant to be likeable.

    1. It seems there are quite a few differences in the show, and having only seen the trailer, I can't answer everything with perfect authority, but I'll do my best.

      1. There aren't really many adults in the book. Glass' story takes place on the spaceship, and there are a few adults invoked, but that's pretty much it. And yeah, in the book, Clarke's parents are dead.

      2. Huh. You're right. Doesn't look like either Luke or Glass is in the show, which is no great loss, really. They were mostly there so the reader could see what was happening on the ship.

      3. There's no character named Finn in the book, but he seems to be the Bellamy character on the show, and the character named Bellamy is taking the place of the book character named Graham, who's belligerent and obnoxious. *head hurts*

      4. Again, Finn is book Bellamy, it seems.

      5. Book Octavia is around fourteen years old, and she's FAR less irritating than TV Octavia seems to be. She's not perfect and not necessarily always likeable, but she's actually one of the more interesting book characters, in my mind. All that swimming is not present in the book, and I'm with you in hoping something eats TV-Octavia.

  9. Love that the plot is so good. I've actually seen the whole pilot from the CW already *rubs hands deviously* And I really liked it. I hate that it's mid-season because I'm afraid it won't do as well if it comes out in February. The last shows that were mid-season on the CW had mediocre to poor ratings. The production value is pretty good though. I'll probably end up buying this one, even if their have been mixed reviews. Love your review by the way :D The gifs are awesome!

  10. so in the book finn is belamy, ok but in the book does clarke fall in love with belamy?

    1. It's been a while since I read this, but I believe Clarke and Bellamy have some kind of flirtation or spark going on in the book. But in the book, the Bellamy character is very different from how he seems to be in the show.

  11. I know. In the series (and i dont know if you see the show) finn and clarke have something kind of thing going one. I would like if they end up together, and if finn is inspired in the book character bellamy that could happen right?

  12. I can see your point but the way Kass Morgan ended the 100 for Day 21, I feel like this was more of an introduction of the characters and we'll see more action and interesting plot twists in the next book(: love the show too!

  13. I have to say that the very best part of this book review was the '10 things I hate about you' reference at the end, haha. I was quite whelmed to read it :D

  14. I also adore the CW despite the fact that everyone makes fun of me for it:) I started watching The 100 and haven't stopped. Have you? Do you like it so far? I haven't read the book yet so I can't really compare but I really enjoy the show.

  15. Been watching tv show since first episode...did not dissapoint me! Best tv show so far! Happy for season 2! What about you? Do you enjoy tv show more than the book?

  16. Loved season one! The second season started last week, I think!?
    ...and I'm gonna reed the books now. :-)
    Guess we'll just have to see.... ;)


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