Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Book Review: The 100, by Kass Morgan

The 100 (The Hundred, #1)The 100 by Kass Morgan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of the show and I understand that it's unfair to compare the two due to the differing strengths and opportunities of each medium, but I don't think this novel lived up to its potential. Such a shame! I wanted to like this, and I wanted it to delve more into the relationships and the true depths of the characters in the way only a novel can. But alas. This novel is more teen than young adult, with a lot of focus on best friends and boyfriends and feeling betrayed and left out, though with a couple of YA elements thrown in to age it that could have been utilised more powerfully.

Introducing the same premise from which the show was spawned, young space-dwelling characters Clarke, Wells and Bellamy find themselves stranded on an unfriendly post-apocalyptic Earth, fighting for survival. They set up camp and instinctively follow the lead of Wells, the son of the Chancellor who damned them all by sending them down to a possibly radioactive world, because he's the only person who seems to have his act together. A ragtag group of 100 juvenile delinquents, there's a bit of infighting and power struggle, as one would expect between such extreme characters in such an extreme circumstance. Only, sadly, it doesn't feel all that believable. The characters are underdeveloped and flat. Their reactions to events are let down by the lack of description, feeling or build-up, resulting in character deaths that could go unnoticed, their impact minimal. It's a pity, because this book reads like a first draft script for the pilot episode of the show, following the same events for the most part, and there was so much more that could have been done with these diverse characters in this extreme setting. As the show proved.

Probably the highlight of the book for me was Glass, a character left out in the show, or rather, amalgamated with Clarke to give her some substance. Glass escaped the dropship just as Bellamy boarded, and tells the story of events that transpire on the arks in the days and weeks following. Her main focus is on her boyfriend, which didn't entertain me all that much, but I was interested by her day-to-day life, showing how people truly live on board the life-saving arks, such as exchanging and recycling materials at a market because there's nothing new, ever, to work with when you're an isolated space community. I liked that concept, and how it (and other technologies we don't have today but which could conceivably exist by that time in the future) was normalised into her society.

Unsure if I'll read the rest of the series. I don't think I'm the right audience. This book would suit a younger reader looking for angst and romance over science fiction.

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