Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

The 100
Kass Morgan

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Releases September 3, 2013
277 pages
YA / Post-Apocalypse

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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

Sigh. I saw the pilot of this series at Comic Con (full review coming closer to its air date) and it’s a combination of political intrigue on a spaceship and teenage drama on a mysterious planet. There was also one or two moments that felt like it was ripped from a Saturday night Syfy movie that made people laugh and/or clap ironically. But overall the pilot has potential, a lot of good ideas, and potentially some interesting characters that I won’t want to throw things at. I was excited to read the book that the pilot was based on considering the books are usually better than the pilot, right?

Sigh. There isn’t a lot tying the book to the show other than the very highest idea of 100 teenage delinquents being shipped back to a post-atomic war Earth in hopes of finding it hospitable as inevitable doom creeps towards the space station that the rest of the human population lives in. Some names are the same, but that’s about it. While the pilot had promise with some intriguing ideas even if the first episode isn’t that great, the book is teenage drama from beginning to end.

And not even interesting science fiction teenage drama or traumatic post-apocalyptic teenage drama, it’s just straight teenage drama. Yeah, some of it led to the death of other people, but it’s a lot of “I love you, you hate me, how do I fix it?” Or “Everyone thinks my sister is crazy, but really she’s just misunderstood and NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME EITHER!” Or the mean guy that leads a turn towards Lord of the Flies (which is an authentically intriguing moment) only to get squished and become background again. Meanwhile a Romeo and Juliet situation is taking place on the space station instead of the political adult-related intrigue hinted at the television show. It’s all feels like the usual high school contemporary nonsense that keeps me away from contemporary lit overall.

There seemed to be little direction in the plot and the characters are created around just a few basic characteristics. There’s the healer with a sad past, the governor’s son who wants to be a better leader than his father, the psycho girl, the angry older brother, the mean kid who wants to knock everyone down a peg, and so on. There isn’t much meat here to grasp on to or much to make me want to come back to this world.

The first book ends with a far less dramatic version of the cliffhanger from the pilot, so the television version has more interesting concepts and covers most of the highlights (plus some) in 42 minutes. I didn’t get the science fiction feel that I was expect, just a few elements required for it to be considered science fiction (space station, post-apocalyptic world, meteorites, an oppressive government). While I’m going to give the show a few episodes to make good on the hints in the pilot, I don’t think I’ll be returning to the book series.