The Compulsive Reader: The 100 by Kass Morgan

Friday, September 27, 2013

The 100 by Kass Morgan

I have some strong feelings about The 100 by Kass Morgan, which is why this post won't be like any of my normal reviews. Maybe it's because I so, so wanted to like this book, maybe it's because I am knee-deep in craft research for school, but...this book. I want to talk about this book.

First impressions: Why hello there, Star Trek-lookalike cover! You are pretty. And very Star Trek-like. Is that font trademarked? I mean, seriously? Okay, I actually really like the cover--it's sharp and edgy and it is full of promising sci-fi action! I like sci-fi action! Give me all of the sci-fi action! And the kissing!

Also, this premise. One hundred juvenile delinquents get sent to a nuclear-devastated Earth as punishment, and also to see if it's safe to return to Earth. But of course, there are secrets about Earth and about their space station and no one really knows what the hell is going on. Not an entirely unique premise, per se, but I like it. I want to go down this path. Also, re: prettiness of the Star Trek cover!

Characters: I love that Morgan tried to make this an ensemble story. It's like, Lost, if the island were Earth and the rest of the world were the Universe. You have a really varied group of characters who come from different social stratospheres and have committed a variety of different crimes (some aren't even crimes), and they're all thrown together and abandoned. Some people are dangerous. Some people just want to help. The problem? I never felt the connections between the characters. They all know each other fairly well, some are best friends up in space, but it's like the moment this book starts, they're complete strangers.

But! We have Lost characters!

The Doctor: Clarke is a medical apprentice until she's thrown into the slammer. She's an orphan, and she hates humanity's government. She can also sew people up, which is a useful skill when you get dumped on Earth without any supplies or food or anything.

The Golden Boy: Wells is the Chancellor's son and he always does what's right. And he is in love with Clarke, even though she hates his guts (there is history!). So he burns down one of the last trees on the space station (whatever, Earth has like a billion) so he can get to be with Clarke, even though she hates his guts. He is always trying to organize the 100, even though they all hate his guts because his father sent them to die on Earth. Poor Wells. Everyone hates him for things that aren't even his fault.

The Bad Boy: Because every ensemble YA piece needs one. Bellamy's desires are pure, though. He just wants to rescue his little sister Octavia! So what if he almost kills the Chancellor? The Chancellor is Wells' father, and as you may remember, no one likes Wells. Bellamy also was the only one who knew that everyone was being sent to Earth, so he had time to research survival skills. Even though he's kind of a bastard, he's also probably the best chance for the 100's survival.

The Troubled, Running Away From Her Past Girl: Glass is the wimp who panics over being sent to Earth, and so in a move that I still am trying to comprehend, she escapes? At the last minute? But no one else does? And hides out in the space station, pining over her ex and the being generally depressed over the fact that she was imprisoned in the first place and her ex has moved on. Really, Glass serves no purpose in this plot other than keeping the reader up to date on what's going on up in space.

So, our four protagonists struggle down their own separate paths. The funny thing about this book is that with so many protagonists and perspectives and the whole thing about them being plopped on Earth, the first humans that Earth has seen in centuries...nothing actually happens. I mean, seriously. They fight, and argue, they draw alliances, some people get sick, they need medical supplies and then BAM! Flashback to life on the space ship. Every. Damn. Time.

Now, I like a good flashback. A good flashback takes you to an essential scene or moment, builds an emotional connection with the reader, and reveals your world. There are maybe like three good flashbacks in this novel. This novel is also approximately 40% flashback. This. Is. A. Problem. It's clear to me that there is a story, a very rich, very important story, in life on the space station. That's where this series needed to start.

I suppose my most essential problem with The 100 is that it has all of the elements of a good story, but they are haphazardly thrown together without a thought to continuity, readability, and...well, common sense. I could easily peel apart the flashbacks and present action and build two books around each part. Two very good, interesting books that promise sci-fi action and kissing. Instead, they got all mashed together and sacrificed character development along the way. And that's sad.

Now, another interesting tidbit: I went into this book knowing that it was the product of Alloy, the book packaging company (which means that a bunch of people who work at Alloy came up with this idea they thought they could sell and then hired Kass Morgan to write the book). Sometimes I really like what book packaging companies come up with--there is a reason that they are in business, after all. So, I thought I'd give it a shot. And...it was a miss.

BUT. THE PLOT THICKENS! I was wasting time on BuzzFeed the other day and LOOK! The 100 is the CW's newest sci-fi show!

THAT...looks awesome. I want it.

FINAL VERDICT: Check The 100 out from your library if you really want to know how the plot flows and don't want to sit through an entire season of slowly revealed secrets. Just be prepared for the cliffhanger, TV-esque ending. And don't expect a lot from the character development. My suggestion? (I can't believe I'm saying this, but....) Skip the book, check out the TV show when it premiers midseason (exact date not certain, sometime late 2013).


DJ D. said...

To be honest, I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to books produced by a packaging company. So I went into The 100 with little expectations. In the end, I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it. Is it my favorite book? No, but I liked it well enough.

Surprisingly, I really liked Glass' chapters. Maybe it's because hers have kissing in them, haha. I don't think she'll be in the show (at least, not at first), which is disappointing.

I couldn't stand Wells and Bellamy. They were over dramatic and just so...well, dumb. Lol.

Overall, I'm glad I read it, but I agree that the show will probably be a more engaging version.

For more info on Jeremy Bell House Cleaning San Antonio said...

Great book. A different look at the same story. Can't wait for the next book to come out. Great read.