There's an ever growing pile of books I want to read…
I’m always really excited when anything arrives in the post for me. I love parcels! I love the promise of what might be inside. I especially love things that arrive in shiny blue envelopes, because they are almost guaranteed to be book proofs. This one was particularly exciting because of the message on the address label:
Inside the exciting shiny blue envelope was this book:
It’s a numbered proof. I’m number 37 of the 100.
After a nuclear war has ruined the Earth, what’s left of humanity lives above it on a giant space station made of interconnected ships. The eponymous 100 are teenage prisoners sent back on a secret mission to recolonise Earth (or at least determine whether it would be possible). The book follows the early days of the mission and tells us about four of these teens in particular, and the circumstances that led to them being “confined”. While Wells, Clarke and Bellamy are discovering the delights and dangers of the planet, Glass escaped back into the regular population and must deal with the politics and perils of shipboard life.
It’s been picked up as a TV show. I’m not sure how closely the show will resemble the book. (The trailer looks completely different and will also give away most of the plot twists in the book but you can find it here if you want to watch it).
What I liked:
Teenagers in space? Hell yes! I loved the plot of this book.
As the setup for what is obviously going to be a series (It had better be a series because the ending is very frustrating otherwise!), it does an amazing job of world building. The practicalities and demands of life in space have really been considered.
I also really think that it nails it from a human perspective. If hundreds of people lived in close quarters with limited resources, what kind of behaviour would you expect? All of the characters were really strong. Not in a ‘look how much I can lift’ way, in an interesting and well-written way. Although occasionally also the former. There’s something very human about them all, even the ones that I didn’t really like. In most stories with oppressive government regimes, they seem to be evil just because they can be. In this story, it’s clear that what seem like terrible actions are being made because of hard decisions.
Kass Morgan also did some things that I wasn’t expecting. I ended the book really liking and rooting for characters I hadn’t liked at all to begin with. I particularly loved Glass’ arc and I can’t wait to find out what happens to her in book two.
What I didn’t like:
A lot of the action in this book takes place in flashbacks. In fact, there’s more flashback than there are events on Earth. I know that it was necessary to really establish the characters identities and tell us about what was happening on the ship to create the great world building that I wrote about before, but I almost wish that the book had just started a little earlier in the timeline instead. I felt that, actually, not much happened on the mission and that part was really just starting to get good when it ended.
Everyone is a little overwrought and everything is life and death, especially in the romantic subplots. It didn’t really bother me while I was reading, but it jumped out at me straight away when I started flicking through for reviewing purposes. I can actually mostly forgive this one because they are teenagers and it is, in fact, the end of the world. Still, if people being “anguished” and dramatic is going to bother you, you shouldn’t read this one.
The characters were also just slightly too good at things. Clarke’s time working in the medical centre is conveniently useful and Bellamy is inexplicably good at hunting. I have no idea where he found the time to practice this on a spaceship!
I really enjoyed this one while I was reading it and I think that the next book is going to be well worth reading. I really wavered about rating this one because I enjoyed reading it so much. Ultimately, though, the narrative structure bothered me quite a lot. I’m hoping that book two will have less flashback scenes and more forward momentum.
The 100 was released yesterday and should be available from your local bookshop now. Why don’t you read it and tell me your thoughts?