For our Sci-Fi Saturday segment, I'm reviewing The 100 by Kass Morgan. This is an interesting, explosive YA book, that's also being made into a series by the CW.
Sci-Fi Saturday rotates with Historical Saturday and Supernatural Saturday, where we review the latest and greatest titles. - J
It was being billed as a teenaged version of Battlestar Galactica, which automatically meant I was interested. Throw in the fact that the CW – my guilty pleasure channel – had also already optioned the book for a mid-season series replacement, I was in.
Fortunately for me, I managed to receive an ARC of The 100 from Little, Brown. While the book isn’t perfect, I think that Kass Morgan has created a unique vision that I think all sci-fi fans will enjoy, and everyone will look forward to the sequel.
Synopsis via Goodreads:
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.
Things that worked:
The entire concept behind The 100, from the orbiting space stations, to the idea that teenagers who commit infractions are often the first to die in a society with diminishing resources, is beautifully utilized throughout Morgan’s world.
She balances dystopian themes that have often been utilized before – e.g. the so-called unrelenting chancellor, while throwing her own ideas into the mix. I was especially impressed with Morgan’s skill of utilizing the idea that teens are expendable in a dying society, and thought that she brought up some questions on just what is acceptable in a world where every breath brings everyone closer to death.
* The plotting/pacing
For a book with four points-of-view, Morgan does an exceptionally good job of keeping the action moving,
The book opens with the event du jour: freeing incarcerated teenagers, on the first pilgrimage to earth.
But as the teens prepare, Morgan skillfully weaves in the pasts of the four main characters, showing how they each ended up on that ship, on their way to earth. There are moments that will make readers both cringe in sympathy, and sad in the realization that many of these kids are children who have been forced to grow up far too soon.
* The post-catastrophic event earth
Morgan never really clarifies how or why the earth ended up the way it did, but she does a strong job of painting how the earth would look after such a crisis.
More importantly, she absolutely grasps how teenagers like Clarke would react to being in a natural environment for the first time, and how they would both be elated and feel frustrated by the fact that because their environment is no longer artificially controlled, they’re going to have struggles they never experienced before.
We don’t necessarily get a lot of background on the characters – more on this later – but I did like the stories that Morgan had set up for all four. They had depth, strong conflict, and showed the characters in a light that absolutely confirmed that their lives are anything but black-and-white.
Obviously, Clarke is a favorite.
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
One of the primary problems with having multiple points-of-view is the fact that narration and ongoing storylines often end up taking the place of much-needed world-building.
I definitely felt that with The 100. Because Morgan constantly had to juggle the storylines of four different characters, she ended up overlooking a lot of the necessary world-building factoids needed to explain her world.
A lot of the fundamental questions re: the world that Glass, Clarke and Co. lived in remained unanswered.
E.g. why the Colony didn’t have the scientific resources to test the earth’s surface? What were the tech developments that had been made on the Colony in the three generations since?
I do feel that the book did suffer a bit, without these answers.
* Certain writing choices
Morgan had a bit of tendency to go for the more showy writing choice at times, e.g. describing an apple by its characteristics, instead of saying straight out, “Hey, this is an apple,” and going from there.
It’s kind of like if someone described a banana as the “elongated, yellow squishy fruit”, instead of straight out saying that it was a banana. I thought it was kind of distracting, but YMMV.
I’m looking forward to catching up with all of the four characters in the sequel, and hopefully, an even more in-depth, detailed world. I’m also looking forward to the TV show – I would love to see Morgan’s vision on-screen.
I recommend this book for fans of science fiction and dystopian novels, and also for fans of Beth Revis.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of The 100 from Little, Brown, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!