Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Hundred #1: The 100 by Kass Morgan (Hodder & Stoughton)

No one has set foot on Earth in centuries - until now.
Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents - considered expendable by society - are being sent on a dangerous mission: to re-colonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves - but will she ever forgive him Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

The 100 on the CW is one of my favourite television series on air right now, coming off the back of a rocky start to essentially become the nextBattlestar Galactica. And because it’s a teen dystopia/post-apocalyptic show then naturally it comes adapted from a book, so when I noticed that the Kindle edition was on Amazon.co.uk, I snapped it up and thought I’d check it out, and quickly breezed through it over the course of a couple of days, because it moves through at a pretty quick pace. But aside from having an interesting concept, the book didn’t really work out especially well for me, for reasons that I’ll get to later. First though, let’s look at what’s going on.

Clarke is the main protagonist and a teenager who has never set foot on Earth. She was arrested for treason on board spaceships far above a planet that has been left abandoned after Nuclear Warfare. Now, she is part of The 100, a group of criminal teenagers who are being sent down to Earth for various charges that range from murder to having a sibling. Their mission is to determine whether the planet is survivable or not. Meanwhile, back on the ship, the book follows the adventures of the new protagonist, a friend of Clarke’s, Glass, who escaped the boarding party when Bellamy, a reckless teenager, fought his way onto the ship to protect his sister. Also joining Bellamy is the Chancellor’s son, Wells, who came down to protect Clarke even though she hates him for his betrayal.

The concept is intriguing and the show has given us the potential that the book has to offer. There are also noticeably a few changes in the show, with characters being added that didn’t feature in the series, and there are also characters that didn’t feature in the books that are on the show. Glass is a character that didn’t make it over to the series, along with a secondary character named Thalia, but also, the people who didn’t make the transition were Finn, whose role of love interest for Clarke seems to have been replaced by Bellamy, Jasper, Monty, Kane, Raven, Clarke’s mother, Abby, and the entirety of the population that exists on Earth, namely the Grounders. I don’t know whether they show up in later books but so far they’re absent here and as a result once the main characters get to the ground, there’s little conflict, with issues of survival pushed to the side in favour of romance, which is where the problems begin. The show recognised what its problems were and dealt with them, improving characters like Bellamy and Octavia who weren’t the best at the start of the show. Hell, pretty much everyone is vastly different from what they were at the beginning, but in the book? Not so much. The characters are more focused on romance and the love triangle between Bellamy, Clarke and Wells is the main focus of the book. It doesn’t work and there are parts where Wells feels creepily obsessive. Clarke herself isn’t as a well-rounded character as she is in the show, and as a result, the book falls short of the brilliant adaption.

The plot is basically non-existent, with the romance being the main focus, and survival problems that were so prevalent in the show, barely feature here. We aren’t given much reason to care about these characters and were I not familiar with the show they would be quickly forgettable instead of some of the most well-defined personalities on science fiction television. (Okay, maybe not Finn, but everyone else works). Maybe I’m not the target audience for this book? I don’t know. If you’re a fan of Clarke and Bellamy and love the romance part of the show then read this, or if you’re curious to learn where the show started from, but other than that, check out the series first. It’s excellent, addictive and incredibly entertaining. This book isn’t.

VERDICT: 4/10 

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