Book Review: The 100

I’m not sure what the general reaction has been to this book, considering that it has also been made into a TV series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have never watched the TV series, and maybe that’s a good thing. I still had a few problems with the book, which I will speak to later, but overall an engaging read, and I am excited to read the rest of the series. The book ends on a sort of cliffhanger and by the end I was like “no!”, because I wanted to find out what happened next.

The 100 by Kass Morgan takes place many years after a devastating nuclear war on Earth, and humans are forced to live on spaceships to stay away from Earth’s radioactive waves. Chancellor Jaha, the leader of the humans in space, decides to send one hundred teenage delinquents back to Earth (they have been arrested for different crimes and held in cells until their 18th birthday, when they are allowed a retrial. If they fail their retrial they are put to death to lower the population counts and make way for those more worthy on the spacestation). The 100 teen criminals are considered expendable (most likely will be killed at 18 anyways) and therefore best able to test whether Earth is now safe (no more radiation). Some of the 100 see this as a second chance at life, whereas others are afraid that they could face certain death when they arrive on Earth.

“Maybe here in the ruins of the old world, they could start something new.” – The 100 by Kass Morgan. 

The book features point of view storylines from several characters. Clarke, a 17 year old girl and once medical apprentice, who was arrested for treason. She holds a lot of anger due to the betrayal of several of her closest friends, which led to her arrest. Wells, the chancellor’s son, commits a horrible act in order to join the 100, which includes the girl that he loves. But unfortunately she also hates him, so his mission is to make her love him again. Bellamy, a 20 year old, fought his way onto the dropship to Earth in order to protect his sister, Octavia. They are unique in the fact that it is rare to have a sibling in their universe, as on the spaceship they had to keep the population counts low in order to survive. And Glass, a well-born teen who was arrested and scheduled to join the 100, but who managed to escape back onto the ship, only to discover that life on the ship is just as dangerous. 

I really grew to love Glass in the book. At first when she was introduced I was thinking why is she even needed in the story, what’s her purpose, and then I eventually grew to understand why Morgan included her in the book. Her point of view kept the dialogue for the people on the ship alive. She is the connection between the 100 and the people on the ship, who are not in danger of Earth’s mysteries, but who have their own problems to deal with.

When the 100 land on Earth, it is not a smooth landing. They lose a few people in the beginning, no one of much importance to the storyline. They immediately realize that they don’t have as many supplies as they originally thought, and they are forced to begin to live off the land or they will not survive. 

So many of the things that the 100 experience when they first come to Earth, like rain and sunsets, I think we often take those for granted in our everyday life. And for them it is something amazing.

“First, orange streaks appeared in the blue, like an oboe joining a flute, turning a solo into a duet. That harmony built into a crescendo of colors as yellow and then pink added their voices to the chorus. The sky darkened, throwing the array of colors into even sharper relief. The word sunset couldn’t possibly contain the meaning of the beauty above them, and for the millionth time since they’d landed, Wells found that the words they’d been taught to describe Earth paled in comparison to the real thing.” – The 100 by Kass Morgan.

My problems with the book were that I wish there had been more development of the 100’s lives on Earth. The beginnings of adapting to Earth life; how they found water, built camp, etc. You see hints of this in the book; fights over food, trying to locate medicine, and hunting animals. I just wish that there had been more on the process of adapting to this new life, like setting up sleeping quarters, organizing meal times, squabbles in the camp, etc. (there were a few major squabbles among the 100, but I would expect there would be more issues when you have 100 people suddenly forced to live together in a land they don’t know).

Most of the focus seems to be on Clarke, Wells, and Bellamy’s storylines, past and present, flashing back to their lives on the ship and now on Earth. And the process of the 100 adapting to Earth life sort of gets lost in the mix.

One book that I was just thinking of that does this really well is Gone by Michael Grant. The book has a completely different concept than The 100, its about a town where the adults disappear, and the teenagers are stuck within the town borders, unable to leave, forced to live on their own. Eventually losing electricity, and running out of fuel and perishable food items, they are forced to grow their own food and find new ways to communicate and travel. Grant does a good job of showing how the teens and children must adapt to these new conditions (e.g. rationing food supplies, organizing roles for each person in this new society).

You see Wells beginning to emerge as a leader on this new Earth, but then you also see him stand back during heated issues because he doesn’t want to seem like he is taking over the role of Chancellor, the role that his father holds on the spaceship.

Also Clarke and Thalia’s relationship I felt needed much more development. Clarke constantly reiterates that her and Thalia are close, that she tells her everything. Thalia was her cellmate after Clarke was arrested and close confidante. They end up reuniting on Earth. But you didn’t often see their friendship in action, and I wish that there had been more flashbacks to her time in the cell with Thalia to give us an indication of how close they really are. I just didn’t find their friendship believable.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5. I was initially going to give it a 4, and as I was writing this review I changed my mind. I had more problems with this book than I realized. Still a very enjoyable read, I was engaged the whole way through, and that is always a sign of a good book to me.

One last thing that really upset me (and for those who haven’t read the book this may be a huge spoiler, so don’t read ahead, although I feel like I’ve already given away some spoilers)

Clarke keeps going back and forth between Wells and Bellamy. One minute she hates Wells and starts to like Bellamy, then she starts falling for Wells and she’s upset at Bellamy. Then its back to hating Wells again, and she runs into Bellamy’s arms. Too much teenage love triangle drama for my taste, but I can see how it would appeal to teen readers.

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