Before I begin this review, I want to say that I had absolutely no idea that this was a series of books and even then, I was only sort of aware of the television series on Netflix. I once tried to watch the pilot when people were talking about it constantly, but I couldn’t get into it. Given my lack of interest in the show, I’m not sure why I bothered picking this book up, but I did and I finished it fairly quickly.
For anyone not familiar with the plot of The 100, it is set in a future 300 years after a nuclear winter devastates the Earth, forcing the remainder of the human race to live in a large ship in outer space. The government has decided to test the ruined planet to see if recolonization is an option by sending a group of one hundred teenage convicts to Earth and tracking their vitals from the safety of the ship.
The book specifically follows four of these convicts, Clarke – a med student imprisoned for her association to a gruelling crime, Wells – the son of the leader of the colony imprisoned on purpose to be with Clarke, Glass – a young woman imprisoned for love, and Bellamy – a stowaway of sorts who just wants to protect his sister. Of the four characters, I felt that Bellamy was the most interesting as his motivations are driven entirely by his love for his younger sister, Octavia, and he has the most drive to survive by his own hard work. He isn’t spoiled and isn’t looking to be the big boss on Earth. All he wants is to live his way and make sure Octavia has all she needs to be happy. Clarke was interesting, and once we learn of the details of her confinement, she becomes a very sympathetic person. It is clear that she was meant to be a healer of people regardless of who they are or what they have done. All she wants is to help. Glass was not my favourite, but definitely not my least favourite. She is only 17 and acts like she knows everything about the universe. Perhaps I am just cynical, but her whole “love at first sight” bit with Luke was more annoying that sweet. And finally, Wells. Wells is one of the most entitled characters I have ever read about. Clarke is mad at him as he betrayed her before her confinement and yet he believes that if he follows her around enough, she’ll fall back in love with him. At one point he even thinks, “He could make her love him again”. That is a direct quotation from the book. Gross.
The pacing of the story was mostly well done, although I felt that it dragged in places when it was a chapter for a character I didn’t really care for (the book is formatting like the A Song of Ice and Fire series, where each chapter is from the perspective of one of the four main characters). But all in all it kept me entertained, and the longer I read, the more I found myself caring for – at the very least – Bellamy and Clarke. And at the end, it made me want to read the next book and find out what is to become of Octavia. It read in an a way that felt a little bit juvenile, but at the end of the day not all YA is meant to read in a sophisticated way. At 23-years-old I know that sometimes the books I read are actually meant for those 12-16 or even 14-18.
On GoodReads, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars, and would have given it more if it were not for one specific scene in one of Glass’s flashbacks. TW: SEXUAL ASSAULT. In the flashback, Glass reflects on breaking up with Luke prior to her confinement, and how when she attempted it, she was cornered by Luke’s roommate, Carter. Carter is described as a bit of a drunk and he is also 18-19 years old at the time of the flashback. At this time, Glass is between 16-17 and the drunken Carter attempts to rape her in the middle of the apartment but Luke comes home at the last second. Carter is able to move fast enough to avoid being caught by Luke, and Glass is too scared to rat on Carter. I felt that this scene was ridiculously unnecessary to the plot of the story especially considering Glass already didn’t like Carter so her actions later on in the story make sense regardless of an assault against a minor.
All in all, it was a good read that didn’t involved a lot of thinking, making it just what I needed to get out of my reading slump. I don’t know how different it is from the show, but based on my opinions on the pilot, I like the book better.