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The 100 Hardcover – September 3, 2013
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Dark and riveting, Morgan’s entry in the very popular dystopian, postapocalyptic YA subgenre blends science fiction, romance, and characters’ shadow sides with a mostly engrossing plotline. In a future lived on spaceships, long after the earth’s destruction, teenage delinquents are usually sentenced to die for their transgressions. Then 100 of them, who are deemed disposable guinea pigs, are instead sent to the ravaged earth in order to see if it is habitable for humans. Clarke, Wells, Bellamy, and Glass are the four narrators, through whose voices the story line sometimes glides and sometimes bumps along. The differing perspectives shed much light on the otherwise lightly drawn world setting, but it can sometimes be hard to leave one character for the next. Regardless, Morgan’s debut clips along at an easy pace because of its simple yet direct writing style. A mash-up of The Lord of the Flies, Across the Universe, and The Hunger Games this has already been tapped by the CW network for television production. It should appeal to fans of postapocalyptic novels seeking the next potentially big new thing. Grades 9-12. --Julie Trevelyan
"It's easy to be drawn in by the Lord of the Flies-style tension that builds as the teens struggle to set up a new society on a battered Earth, and by the smoldering romances that hang in the balance."―Publishers Weekly
"Dark and riveting...A mash-up of The Lord of the Flies, Across the Universe, and The Hunger Games."―Booklist
"A mash-up of the hit TV reality show Survivor and traditional science fiction...Morgan's weave of pop-culture elements and politics make for a gripping read."―School Library Journal
"Likely to be a hit with readers who want their Pretty Little Liars mixed with Lord of the Flies."―The Bulletin
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UPDATE: Since reviewing The 100, I've finished the first two seasons of the TV show, which I will say is almost completely different from the book series. I'm a glutton for dramatic teen TV shows, and since The 100 is produced by the same people as The Vampire Diaries, I was destined to fall in love with it! If you've seen the show and are inclined to try the book because you liked it so much... I'm sorry, but they will disappoint you sorely. Just stick with the TV show (A+ COMPLETELY RECOMMEND). The books, while similar enough in premise to serve as the foundation for the show, are much more slowly paced (the entire first book, The 100, is basically the time frame of the first episode of Season 1), and definitely less gracefully executed than episodes are. Just a little disclaimer.
REVIEW: The book is told from four different teenagers' perspectives—Clarke, Wells, Bellamy, and Glass. All narratives aside from Glass's are told in a concurrent timeline, through the eyes of the delinquents who have been forced to settle on Earth for the first time in centuries. While Glass's story, which takes place back on the mothership, was initially the least interesting, it eventually pans out to serve as an anchor—a tie to the surviving, but still unstable lifestyle back in space.
Kass Morgan creates a vivid high-tech world in The 100, where citizens are divided by social standing and resources are limited—of course, except to the upperclass. Back on Earth, the prospects are obviously grim, but it's still a thrill of a journey to follow Clarke, Wells, Bellamy, and the other 97, as they each rediscover a planet that they've only read about in books, yet have such a deep internal connection with. I appreciate the idea of providing different points of view, but think it was slightly too ambitious for the author to try to squeeze a Lord of the Flies-esque conflict AND a love triangle AND an undercurrent of radiation's aftereffects (say what?) into everything. It's all interesting until it just becomes too much; I'd have much preferred one central conflict with stronger relationship-building and more background insight.
While there is no one thing fatally wrong with any of the characters, all four of them are too generic, too idealized. Everyone loves having attractive/smart/clever characters to read about, but they all start to blend together when the author tries to make them all perfect, especially since everyone thinks in close third person. The unrealistic and unextraordinary characterization prevented me from developing any sort of attachment to any of them. The only one that seemed remotely human and believable was Bellamy, our resident rebel. But then again I've always been a sucker for bad boys with a past...
That said, the story itself is filled with drama and tension between the main characters (and secondary characters!) which makes The 100 exciting to read. The sheer nature of the resettlement of our planet is enthralling; Morgan does well with engaging readers to the surprises and twists scattered throughout the novel. There's definitely lots of action-filled scenes and, love it or hate, an INTENSE cliffhanger ending, that just leaves you thirsty for more.
Structurally, I found The 100 quite hard to work with. The constantly changing perspectives get a bit disorienting because it's not just a "he said, she said," but rather a "he said, she said, another he said, another she said." Kind of exhausting. On top of that, each of the narratives are very heavy on backstory which, in good fiction, is absolutely necessary. But when it takes up 50% of the book in the form of italicized flashbacks, it gets out of control.
Pros: Fascinating storyline and world-building // Engaging; keeps you hanging on constantly // Dramatic Earth-bound adventures and minor plot twists // Bellamy is a strongly written character // Ending makes me want to read the second book! That's what ultimately matters, right?
Cons: Abundance of flashbacks is annoying; causes disorder in the flow of the storytelling // Constant narrative shifts also gets chaotic // Stylistically unimpressive // All the characters are grossly idealized (i.e. sweet, pretty/handsome, kind, brave, etc.) and thus pretty forgettable (with the exception of Bellamy) // Cliffhanger ending may cause distress
Verdict: Despite my numerous quips with the lacking characters and structure of The 100, I found myself enjoying it while reading and left wanting more once finished. It's definitely a plot-driven sci-fi novel with lots of action and lots of suspense; if that's your thing, you should totally give it a chance. Kass Morgan's debut is one of those books that isn't mind-blowing, but is still hard to put down, so I definitely understand its appeal to mainstream young adult audiences. While unimpressive in a literary lens or by composition, The 100 is still a promising first installment in an exciting dystopian series.
Rating: 7 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): Not perfect, but overall enjoyable; borrow, don't buy!
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, FSB Media!).
I was pleasantly surprised. It's not anything special, but it's not as bad as some of the reviews out there made it seem. The show is far better, though, so if you have to choose between the two, go with that one.
The 100 follows one hundred juvenile delinquents who are sent to earth to see if it's livable again. There are four revolving narrators- Clarke, Bellamy, Glass, and Wells. All expect Glass are on earth, she tells the story of what is happening in space. Earth is an interesting place, and they must discover the hazards and how to survive them. We also get a peek at how they all ended up imprisoned in the first place.
In the show there is no Glass, which is a shame. I really liked her character and thought she played an important role. The show doesn't really lose anything in losing her, really, but I liked her in the book. There are also major differences between the characters from the show and the book. Clarke is still pretty much the main character, but her role is greatly diminished in the book. She's less of a hero and more of just a medic. She doesn't take a leadership position, really, but does have weight among the other characters. Wells is the one who really takes a leadership position, and he becomes a much more interesting character. He's also got a dark side that the show doesn't really get into. Bellamy is pretty much the same, except he has much of a softer spot for Clarke and they even end up together a few times.
The story was bland. Very little happened. With the amount of POV's it's hard to get a lot done, I suppose. Had the book been a little longer it wouldn't have been as much of a problem. Also, it wasn't as dark as it could have been. The show does a better job at actually showing people survive, Lord of the Flies style.
The show is, in the end, better because it takes the best parts of the book and repurposes them to fit a more interesting story line. I don't know if I'll continue with this series, but it's not bad by any long shot.
At first I was excited to get a new story from the characters I love and to get more background on the ship life. But as it went along it became very clear this writer preferred cliche characters to the inspired writing that the TV show uses.