The 100

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Author: Kass Morgan

Publication: 2013, Little, Brown, and Co.

Pages: 323

Overall Rating:

Rating for Action:

Quantity of Action:

Age Category: 13+

Brief Summary: Ever since a devastating nuclear war the last remnants of humanity have lived on a giant spaceship hundreds of miles above the Earth.  Now 100 juvenile delinquents – considered disposable by the rest of society – are being sent on an urgent mission to recolonize the planet.  If they survive, then those still aboard the spaceship will know it is safe for the rest of them to follow.  For the 100 it could be a second chance at life… or a one way ticket to hell.

Age of Main Character: 17

What I Liked the Most:  It’s an interesting concept.  I love the idea of a totalitarian society out in space – surviving on shrinking resources – sending a group of convicted juveniles out to explore a dying world to see if it’s ready for recolonization.

I also liked some of the tension between Clarke, Wells, Glass, and Bellamy.  Each one has secrets that are revealed slowly over the course of the book, drawing out the tangled mass of deception and murder they’ve left in their wake – all in an effort to save the people they care about the most.

What I Liked the Least: The biggest problem with this book is that there’s no real villain.  SPOILER ALERT.  For all the hype that this is a potential suicide mission, that the earth could still be radioactive, the 100 don’t encounter anything bad or dangerous until the very end of the book.  The only conflicts come from within, and too many of those are blamed on peripheral characters, leaving me with no one to really hate and no one to really root for.  Moreover, everyone who dies is equally peripheral and yet we’re clearly intended to care about them and to empathize when their deaths affect the main characters.  All-in-all, it results in a book that is singularly lacking in tension.  When the dangers on Earth finally do show themselves, I couldn’t help thinking that this was something that should have happened on page 100, not on page 320.

Second, there are too many characters and inter-linked stories here, and none of them got enough attention to fully draw me in.  As a result, the political and social complexities of life aboard the ship are only hinted at, never felt fully realized, and the deaths that occur feel underwhelming in their impact.

My final issue, and this one is relatively minor but still stuck with me throughout, had to do with the main characters’ names.  Most of the characters here have relatively normal names – Luke, Camille, Carter, Octavia, Graham, etc.  But all the main characters have weird names, as though the author was intent on coming up with something memorable.  But in reality, Clarke, Wells, Bellamy, and Glass are just odd and don’t fit with anything else in the story.

How Good was the Action? Given the cover and the description, I was expecting more of thriller.  The reality is a lot of romance and very little in the way of action.  What there is, was relatively bland and uninspired, and clearly not the focus of the story.

How Engaging was the Story? The book has its moments, as you dig deeper into the past – into the terrible choices and actions that landed Glass, Clarke, Bellamy, and Wells on the dropship for Earth – and begin sorting through the twisted history of their interconnected lives.  But again, the lack of any real villain, or any clear dangers on Earth, sucks the tension right out and makes the story far less engaging than it could have been.    

Overall Assessment: Interesting concept, but ultimately flawed.  For a story about survival aboard an aging spaceship, you’re much better off with the unparalleled Across the Universe by Beth Revis.  And there are any number of books out there that do a better job laying out a post-apocalyptic vision of Earth.  Don’t waste your time on this one.

Profanity: Little to none.

Sex: Plenty of references to sex, some kissing and light making out.

Violence: A few fights, a bit of hunting, and someone gets shot with an arrow, but overall the level of violence is minimal.

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