This is a general statement for most of my reviews, if not specified otherwise: the review will be spoiler free until the designated SPOILERS section at the end! Read that at your own peril if you have not yet read this novel!
The writing within this was pretty good. It was standard YA writing, with a lot of vague terms not really explained. I think there’s two sides to an “argument” about writing that I’ve been seeing a lot of. On one side, it’s like “YA books are really not great at world building, they just vaguely throw ideas at you but never explain them” and then on the other hand it’s like, “YA books (and books in general these days) dumb down and think for their readers, not giving them enough credit”. It’s difficult for me to choose a side to this, specifically when addressed toward The 100 since I’ve been watching the TV show. The books and show are very different, almost to the point where the only similarities are a few of the character names and the fact that 100 criminals are sent to earth to see if it’s inhabitable. That’s where the similarities end, but I feel like without the show, the lack of description of setting would be a hindrance in fully understanding the two very separate worlds within this book series.
I like how it’s told from multiple PoVs, and most of the time each narrative character appears to have their own personality, but sometimes the PoV changes don’t really feel like changes in narrative voice, it just feels like they’re the next character to move the story along. It’s hard for me to really pick out individual personalities for these characters as of yet, and I hope that changes as the series continues onward.
The plot is simple and pretty expected. Even without watching the TV show, I could have seen pretty much everything happening. That’s okay though, I’m not reading this series to have my mind blown. The plot is thus: the human race has a small remaining population living in a life-sustaining space station after a nuclear war destroyed Earth 300 years previous. As the space station starts to fail, they have no choice but to see if they can move to Earth so they send down 100 teenage criminals to see if it’s safe. That’s just about all that happens throughout the entire first book. It takes place over 21 days and has many flashbacks which I usually don’t like, but for some reason I was okay with it in this context. The plot was also different enough from the TV show that the more I read the easier it was for me to separate the two of them.
The main characters are: Clarke, Bellamy, Wells and Glass. I would be lying if I said I didn’t start reading this series just because I heard that Clarke and Bellamy have some romance going on. I was also curious to see what other differences there were.
Clarke is a half-trained physician whose parents were killed for treasonous acts. Once she goes to Earth, she doesn’t take up a leadership role except as a medical person. Her main storyline follows closely to her relationship/feelings toward Wells and her attachment to her best friend, Thalia who was injured during the drop ship launch.
Bellamy got on the drop ship the same way as in the show: he puts on a guard uniform and shoots the Chancellor to get on the ship with his sister. That’s where the similarities seem to end to the TV show. His entire focus is on Octavia, his sister, and he becomes the camp’s hunter, not their leader. He also spends a lot of time thinking about girls and most of his chapters ended with him thinking about girls in sexual ways which made me sort of unhappy with his character, but hopefully that’ll change.
Wells is the one character who takes the leadership role once the kids are on Earth again. He’s not the greatest at it, but he’s not bad at it either. He did a lot of stupid things to get onto the drop ship, primarily focused on Clarke. His entire storyline is surrounding Clarke, like a planet around a sun. This is a common trope in YA books, and usually it’s a girl doing dumb shit to get a guy, but this time it’s swapped, but that doesn’t make it any less aggravating to read.
Glass is the only connection the reader has to the space station. She’s from the “rich” station and is dating under her “class”. Unlike the link to space in the show (Raven), Glass has no discernible talents and reads basically just like someone put into the book to show how life in space is/was and so that the reader isn’t blind to what’s happening in the station like the kids on the ground are. I don’t hate her as a character, but I don’t love her either. Like Wells, her entire storyline revolves around a love interest.
This was about what I expected, though there is more romance than I anticipated. It’s very quick to read and I am interested to see how differently the book plot moves in comparison to the TV show.
It’s really hard not to search for the TV characters in this book. I’m missing Raven and Murphy and Sinclaire and heck, even Kane and Abby who are not my favorite characters. I can see Murphy in Graham, but that’s about it. It’s inevitable I guess, but I still feel like I like he show more, but that’s most likely because I watched it first and therefore am biased toward those characters.
Otherwise, I feel like this plot could be really interesting and I wish I had read the books before I watched the show because I have a feeling I would have enjoyed them so much more. Again, like in Starflight/Starfall I would consider this sci-fi “lite”.
Below is a section of blatant spoilers where I gush about certain events in the book! Don’t read on if you don’t want to be spoiled to bits!
Wells doesn’t die right away! Bellamy and Clarke kiss!
That’s…that’s all I’ve got.