By now, it should be no secret to anyone here that I love these books. And I mean LOVE! But rather than just rave about how much I’m addicted, I decided I ought to try and explain to you why I have such a high opinion of the world Kass Morgan has created. Throughout the course of this post I will endeavour, dear reader, to express my adoration for this series, while at the same time look at why some people might have given it mixed reviews. If, after all this, you still need persuading as to why these novels are so worth picking up, stay tuned for my take on the TV series adapted from the books. So without further ado, here’s part one: the novels.
Oh my god, the premise. The initial concept is so wonderfully original that it draws you in instantaneously. A colony of humans living in space where any crime is punishable by death if you’re over eighteen? Count me in! The post-apocalyptic Earth and sci-fi space station work very well side by side and make for a really unique world. Morgan’s writing is a highlight for me: the way she describes the natural beauty of Earth through the eyes of the teens who are seeing it up close for the first time gave me shivers – the simple joy her characters found in the little things really made me appreciate our planet more. They were awestruck by the most basic of events, like a sunset, or rainstorm, and it‘s so touching that you immediately sympathize both with them and with what humanity has lost.
I also liked the four different points of view we got, because it gave a broader sense of what was going on. There’s the level-headed Clarke, rebellious Bellamy, love-struck Glass and Chancellor’s son Wells, who acts ridiculously rashly for someone whose father eats measured responses for breakfast. At first I thought it would be difficult to manage so many POVs in my head, but all four are so distinct that I had no trouble keeping up. Plus, we got to stay connected to what was happening on the ship as well as on Earth, creating greater suspense for the reader through the use of dramatic irony. Then, in addition to everything else, we get flashback scenes from each of the main characters’ past, informing us why some of them were confined, what their relationships with each other used to be and what changed. While there wasn’t perhaps as much character development in the present as there could have been, we did get the added bonus of seeing the changes that had already occurred by contrasting where they once were to where they are now.
Next let’s talk about the action. The pacing of these books is fantastic, and you can read them both back-to-back in about three days. This can be attributed, in part, to the incredible plot twists that take place in both books. Some of them could be considered predictable, and while it is true that I was able to guess a couple of them, a few took me completely by surprise. The author definitely isn’t afraid to ramp up the tension by bringing in elements of danger from all angles, be it friends or foes. While I was reading each chapter I never encountered a dull moment and I absolutely enjoyed myself page after page!
Okay, so let’s start with the romance. For someone who’s reading the books solely for this aspect of the plot, you will either be very happy or very disappointed. There is a lot of it, granted, but it can get a bit repetitive over time which irked me. There are love triangles for both Clarke, Glass and (eventually) Wells, which can start to get on your nerves by the second book. Also, for some reason, there are times when the romance is practically instantaneous; made even more frustrating by the fact that it doesn’t need to be that way! There is so much potential for more to happen between couples. This formulaic nature leads to a somewhat irritating pattern emerging. Let me set the scene: someone is miserable because they’re hiding a secret; if the secret got out it could ruin their relationship with their significant other; when the secret finally comes out – as it inevitably does – the relationship crumbles because of angst and trust issues. Then they make up and the cycle starts again. Am I the only one thinking that if everyone was just a little more decisive, and actually communicated with each other rather than crossing their fingers and hoping that everything will eventually work out, then they might all make some progress in their love lives? Spare me the unnecessary drama. Please.
Personally, I am a firm believer in the fact that The 100 and Day 21 should have been combined into one single novel. It would have led to a marked improvement as more progress could have been made in fewer pages, streamlining the plot and getting to the core of the story far quicker. It definitely felt as though Morgan was focussed on the wrong thing when she started writing her series, and this is where the problem lies. Apparently you can learn survival skills just by reading a few books. How incredibly convenient. If only I could have mastered mathematics so easily! In the television series (more on that later…) the delinquents have to pick it up as they go. They struggle, but they manage. They pull together to survive. And in the end, they endure. Why doesn’t the book include this? That aspect of overcoming all the odds was sorely lacking and I missed the sense of achievement I imagine they should have felt, having successfully built a community on their uninhabited, radiation soaked ex-home planet.
Together, I would give these novels four out of five stars. The 100 was my favourite of the two, earning a slightly higher score, while Day 21 is definitely a worthwhile read, but perhaps the flaws within it are slightly more pronounced. Still, keeping all this in mind I found that the pros far outweighed the cons. Until this series I had never really delved into the science fiction genre, so The 100 is probably the first legitimate sci-fi I’ve read. I’m the first to admit that when I decided to read the debut book in the series I had rather low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised.
There is set to be at least one more book in the series, and I am eagerly awaiting its release to find out where Morgan will take the remaining members of the hundred next.