The 100 is a sci-fi dystopia heavy on the romance, which is usually not my cup of tea and to be honest it frustrated me a bit at times.
The book started very well. We get to know our main character Clarke and a bit of her past in the first chapter. Then we meet Wells, know a bit about him and how he and Clarke met. And then we meet Glass and Bellamy. All characters, except for the latter, apparently did something very bad which got them confined, and throughout the book we progressively get to know what that was exactly.
For most of the book, I enjoyed how we were being fed the information, with the different voices and different times, it all seemed to fit in like pieces of a puzzle.
The idea of the last of the human race surviving in space for 300 years is very intriguing. The Colony is divided into 3 ships: Phoenix, Walden and Arcadia. The first houses the elite. The others are not so lucky. I enjoyed the thought of books being kept in oxygen-free containers for better preservation and relics in general being protected. It was very interesting to see the characters’ reactions to things we find mundane and take for granted, both those things in the ship and when they get to Earth.
However, I wish the world development had been more elaborate, especially since the premise was so good. The book is very short. I wanted to know more about how life was on the ship. For instance, I am not sure how I can fathom a tree growing in a spaceship. The dirt it’s planted on is bound to lose its properties over time, right? Did the scientists develop something to help overcome this? How was the population even able to survive for 3 centuries in space?
I also never got the Exchange. It was obviously a market, but where do people get the stuff they trade? Do they make it on board? Are there machines to craft the items? Where to they get the materials? They can’t recycle forever, right? How do they make fabrics, for instance, since not all were Earth made? What exactly are the solar fields and what is planted there, besides apples? How do they work? Where does oxygen come from? Do they have machinery to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen? Can they reproduce anything of what they got on board at all, like medicine? We’re told medicine is limited, which makes sense. How do they make anything at all if they are stuck in space? For 300 years? How is power even generated for that long? We are not told much at all about the technology so I could have definitely done with a bit more world building.
We are also not told at all about Arcadia, and I wonder if the second book of the series will address it.
When the 100 get to Earth we are not told much either. The narrative is very focused on establishing which character confronts who and who is the top dog and has supporters and also the romance. Ah, the romance. As I said, it frustrated me at times. Quite often I felt some characters were acting as spoiled brats, when they chose not to talk things through for way too long. And then there was the usual love triangle. I guess that’s all typical of this sort of book and of being a teenager in general, and it adds to the drama, but personally I would have liked to see less of all that and more sci-fi.
I found that some scenes were not believable and were only there so that the spark between characters could develop. For instance, I just could not buy Clarke spending hours with Bellamy in the woods while her friend was so sick, especially since she could not wait till afternoon before meeting him cause she was so worried. After all, from the description we were given before, I really thought Thalia was about to die. So I found it even less believable that after so many days with such a nasty infection spreading, she could recuperate like that, after the medication was recovered and administered.
We are told quite many times, throughout the book, that what the characters did, especially Clarke and Wells, was so unbelievably wrong that I just wanted to know already. The suspense builds, that’s for sure. It was fine up to a point, but got frustrating after a while, and at some point I felt the explanations came too late, causing those narratives of what happened in the past, that I had so enjoyed in the beginning of the book, to feel out of place and disconnected to the present (like more explanations about Clarke’s parents dying after Clarke and Wells had made their peace about it, or at least made up, on Earth and that some things were left unclear, due to the need for suspense (Ex.: When Glass and Luke made up, he said he heard a girl got confined for – something unsaid – but he never thought it could be Glass. And then he asks what happened and she replies “He…” and nothing else. Even after the explanation that came later on, I could not tell if Luke knew the baby was his or thought it was Carter’s. And if he believes it was Carter’s, did he think he raped her? There is a lot of innuendo, but too often not enough clear answers.
So long story short, I felt there were many transitions, which were necessary, missing in determent for more suspense, and was left with many unsatisfying cliffhangers. That, along with everything else I mentioned, caused my rating to drop from 5 stars to 4 to finally 3.
That said, it is still an enjoyable book, especially if you don’t mind that it revolves so obviously around romance and has a Romeo and Juliet feel to it.
Read from February 01 to 04, 2015
I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.