Series: The Hundred #1
Release Date: 3rd September 2013
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
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In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.
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.
To be perfectly honest, I only really read this book because Dee and I started watching the CW adaptation (like a month later…I’m still only on episode three…I am so bad at TV.) Also because I have this thing with Bellamy and Clarke in the show where I become possessed by a physical need for them to just MAKE OUT ALREADY WHY ARE YOU UST’ING ALL OVER THE PLACE I HATE YOU CW I HATE YOU SO MUCH and obviously decided the best thing for my sanity would be to experience them in book form. Haha.Hah.Ha.
Excellent first points about the book: Finn is not a thing that exists *crowd cheers* and actually I really got into the beginning. It does have a very promising start with some great worldbuilding. I’m not normally one for science fictioney stuff but the billing of this book as a cross between Battlestar Galactica and Lost is not that far off the mark, I think. The Hundred incorporates the complex politics as well as the sheer claustrophobia of a large group living within a confined space, while using a diverse ensemble of characters that have their own stories and relationships outside of the ‘main’ plot. Bellamy’s narrative explores this in detail; his POV is one of the best in the book. That being said, this book takes a sharp nosedive into mediocrity after more or less abandoning the more interesting aspects of the story for a ~romantic~ relationship that I hated so much I was actually tempted to throw my Kindle out the window just so I would be free.
So yeah, The Hundred is loosely about a group of literal young adults, since they’re all around the ages of eighteen-twenty except for one, that have been tried and convicted for a huge variety of crimes – a really cool aspect of the worldbuilding is the idea that all crimes come with a capital punishment because conservation of space – that are ‘chosen’ i.e. pretty much sacrificed, to go to Earth and prove that it is inhabitable. Except that Earth is extremely dangerous with a highly toxic atmosphere after years of war sent the survivors fleeing into outer space. Which…doesn’t really seem that outlandish these days. Morgan uses alternating points of view with varying success: Clarke, Bellamy and Glass are some of the more interesting characters; I particularly liked the relationship between Luke and Glass that is the central focus of her storyline. Then there are others who are TRULY THE WORST.
Let’s talk about Wells. Because you see, Wells is the number one reason I couldn’t find it in me to rate this book more than two stars despite finding a lot of it quite engaging. Wells is your typical YA love interest – he’s the ‘good’ guy to balance out Bellamy’s ‘bad’ guy and obviously, obviously, has dark secrets. Wells spends most of his narrative pining for his ex-girlfriend Clarke, who he seems to think hates him for unjustified reasons. EXCEPT THEY BLOODY ARE. Clarke has EXTREMELY good reasons to hate the sight of Wells but as the story unfolds Wells goes on the weakest redemption arc I have ever seen and Clarke magically forgives him. They even progress to the point at which Wells is a legitimate point in the main love triangle. Which! NO! He is vile, he is awful and I loathe with everything I have that this book puts forward the idea that Wells not only deserves to be forgiven but that Clarke was somehow in the wrong for hating him. NOOOOOPE, DOES NOT COMPUTE. Their relationship is everything I have ever hated about romances directed at teenage girls and it made me so angry at several points I had to put the book down just to breathe. Kill it with FIRE.
Overall this turned out to be a weak book with a lot of untapped potential. The science fiction aspects were interesting and I actually thought that some of the characters were relatively well developed given that this isn’t a very long book at all but God, Wells. Wells and Clarke. I cannot.