Series: The Hundred #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on September 3rd, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.
So, I this was sitting on the first page of the library’s audiobook selection for science fiction and fantasy, and I’ve been hearing everyone on twitter talk about watching the show. So, I thought, why not? Why not give this book a chance? Because, really, how bad could it be?
The audiobook was well read. There were two narrators, one for the boys and one for the girls and I really have no issues with their presentation. It actually made this easier to listen to.
But the book was so, so bad. I have no idea how this compares to the television show, and I may still decide to try to watch it. But, hoo boy, this book just did not do it for me at all. I’m not sure if they’re trying to do the LOST thing or the Battlestar Galactica thing or some weird combination of the two, but so far, it’s just not fleshed out at all. There are so many holes and the world building just felt half thought out. They focused too much on drama and romance and not enough on basic structure in which to base their storytelling.
I mean, okay, so yeah, it’s kind of a cool concept. The was a nuclear holocaust or something or other, and the surviving members of the human race live on a space station all Xenon: Girl of the 21st Century style. And yeah, it orbits about the same noncommittal area of space as the Xenon ship did. It’s apparently close enough the Earth to feel that they can get there in a short amount of time, yet far enough away that they don’t regularly see it through their ship’s windows?
So after three hundred or so years, the ship itself is starting to fall apart, and they want to send and expedition to find out if Earth is less nuclear winter and more livable. Yeah, that’s also a sound idea. Unfortunately, that’s where the world building stops making sense. The culture they live in has such an awful and strange idea of population control that it just boggles my mind. Instead of dealing with the population like Logan’s Run, they just execute criminals. All criminals, ever. Imagine how many people are in prison for stupid offenses, and now realize that they’d just be straight executed in this society. Except, they don’t execute the teenagers who cause issues. They keep them confined until their eighteenth birthday, and then they retrial them and THEN execute them. Except, no one’s been getting fair retrials anyway. So, why not just execute them right away? I just.. that seems a waste of energy and air and everything else that they find so precious on that ship.
That brings me to the plot of the book, but I also need to touch upon the Gaia Doctrine or whatever it’s called. What the absolute fuck is that? I mean, holy shit. The society doesn’t offer birth control or sexual education courses and yet punishes people for getting pregnant outside of their allotted family structure. And I already mentioned what they do to people who break the rules. So, they up and murder people who are continuing the human race… in order to make sure that the human race continues to survive? It is all stupid. It’s way stupid. I can’t even deal with how stupid that idea is. They should be embracing new human lives. Adding numbers to the running tally of humanity instead of killing everyone involved. Ugh. Worst.
Okay. So, like I mentioned above, the teenagers are all awaiting the day they turn eighteen so that they can get executed for stupid things they did. But, instead of doing that, they decide to send all the teenagers to see if Earth is livable. Good fun, right? Super good fun. And, that, my friends, is the main plot of the book.
Now, like I mentioned, everything is pretty much drama and romance. So, let’s go into our characters. Clarke likes libraries and learning about medicine. She’s actually very useful on Earth, considering the ship crashed upon entering the atmosphere. She’s basically the Jack of this Island, with a more tragic background and more self depreciation, if that could even be possible.
Bellamy forces his way upon the ship in order to watch over his little sister (who he shouldn’t have because of rules, but has anyway). He does manly things and hunts a lot and has feelings about his little sister being more of a jerk than he originally thought. He also gets all up on Clarke’s face and sucks on it a bit. There was a pretty lame line about how they were the first people to make out on Earth since everyone left. So bad.
Wells is the son of the chancellor of the space ship, yet forces his dad’s hand by lighting their only tree on fire. He just wants to go make out with Clarke because he’s fawning over her and totally in love with her. But, unfortunately, he’s the reason she got confined in the first place. Also, he’s totally awful and selfish and screws up everyone’s safety almost constantly. I really, really, dislike him. Originally, it was like, well maybe he’s not so bad, but he continuously makes bad choices all to benefit himself.
Our last point of view character is named Glass. That’s right, Glass. I don’t know if its supposed to be an allegory for her emotional well being, or what, but she pretty much relies on one person to keep her happy and that one person is Luke. The classism is rampant in their story line and she repeats her mantra of love almost constantly. You’d think, that a girl who was smart enough to escape her prison sentence would be smarter than this. After her initial escape, she goes straight dumb. Of course, she was confined for being in love and getting pregnant, and that’s her whole story line. This star crossed lovers bullshit really got on my nerves.
By the end of the book, there seemed to be more issues afoot than just the drama the rest of the book was. The ship itself is out of air for realsies (good job Wells, you asshole) and there are actually people on earth planting orchards and shit. So. I guess I’ll continue down this path of awful storytelling, because, damnitall, I got attached to Clarke. Of course, I’m going to have to see how different the TV show is. Perhaps a group of writers can do a better job with whatever that was or attempting to be.