Series: The Hundred #1
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 277 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher for Review
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.
I was so excited for this book. I mean, look at that premise! It promises such amazing things to us. And while I found this book enjoyable, I was disappointed in a few aspects, despite the fact that this is a quick read.
At a mere 277 pages, it's easy to get through this book in a single sitting. Not to mention the fact that it's told in short chapters in four different perspectives. Yeah, there are four POVs. It's made slightly better by the fact that the POVs are in third person as opposed to first, and while all of the characters are different and connected in odd ways, I have to admit that they all fell flat to me.
Our first character is Clarke. It takes us a while to find out why she was Confined, but it's rather shocking once the truth is revealed. See, if you're a teenager and you commit a crime, you're Confined. When you turn eighteen you are put on re-trial and almost everyone that is put on a re-trial are found guilty and executed, their bodies then loaded off of the massive ship and sentenced to floating away in space for the rest of their physical existence. Through Clarke, we find out that one hundred of these delinquents were chosen to go to space to see if the toxic planet is now livable. If people have to die, it might as well be the villains, right? While an interesting viewpoint because of her past, I had trouble connecting with her, even though she felt such powerful emotions like hatred for her ex, Wells.
And you guessed it! Character number two is Wells. He's actually the Chancellor's son. The Chancellor is the book's equivalent to a President, so he has been raised in the spotlight, surrounded by girls, and he hated it. He only had eyes for Clarke. And he loves her with every fiber of his being. Unfortunately, he did something terrible to ruin his relationship with Clarke before she got Confined, and it takes quite a while to learn exactly what happened between the two of them. Eventually he learned that Clarke would be part of the expedition to Earth, and he commits a public crime bound to get him sentenced to Earth, too. He gave up his cushy lifestyle for her. And while I know some part of my heart should have burst with joy at this prospect, it didn't. I couldn't connect with Wells at all.
The next person we meet is Bellamy. Bellamy is the oldest of the bunch at twenty, but he's also the most unique in the sense that he has a younger sister named Octavia. Octavia was Confined and when Bellamy finds out that she's part of the one hundred heading to Earth he goes to extremes similar to Wells in order to ensure that he can be with his sister and keep her safe. See, with such limited space in the ship you have to apply to have the right to have a single child. Having two is against the law and it's rare that anyone can get away with it. The chapters depicting Bellamy's past and his struggles to keep Octavia a secret are really interesting because of this. Really, he was the only truly interesting character to me because he was so conflicted inside and complex. He was angry and full of hate, thus I actually liked him because he had substance. None of the other characters, in my opinion, had true substance.
Lastly, there's Glass. Confession, I chuckled the first time I heard her name. She is Wells' best friend and the only person that is not on Earth. Because of this, she gives us a really unique perspective with the happenings on the ship. And, like everyone else, it takes nearly forever to find out why she is Confined. She has a forbidden romance going on that's supposed to tug at our heart strings, but the emotions just weren't there. While I respect her desire to be who she wants instead of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed angel that everyone else expects her to be, I just couldn't connect to her either.
As you can tell, the cardboard characters were a serious problem for me. Such a thing is so upsetting because the concept of the novel is absolutely fantastic. And the world-building that I was able to experience was phenomenal. I really felt transported to the confined ship in this novel. But, with that in mind, I was left with a lot of questions. I'd love to learn more about the nuclear event that led to Earth becoming toxic. I'd love to know more about the ship as a whole just because it was so endlessly fascinating. I just wanted to know more because the romance and the characters and everything else just didn't work for me.
There were two romances: Glass and Luke and then there's Clarke and a semi-love triangle she's got going on. Glass and Luke, while awesome because of their forbidden love, did not have the fire I was looking for. And Clarke was constantly running between her two boys. She kissed both in spur of the moment situations and she would immediately find ways to hate them afterwards. To put it simply, this was a poorly executed love triangle. There were no mutual feelings, all romantic situations happened out of nowhere, and it's not as if she was caught between two guys. She really just took turns loving them and hating them. The romances, I wish, had more passion.
I found their survivalist ways on Earth to be amazing. Hunting altered animals, fighting to survive, surviving their first lightning storms, and discovering the uses for new plants. It was all great. I was almost hoping for the lovely creepiness found in THE LORD OF THE FLIES. And such moments began to rear their heads at certain times, like the stealing of medicinal supplies and the arguments over how to punish thieves. Really, it was beyond easy to infer how both situations would turn out so the potential greatness of both instances disappeared rapidly. My other qualm with their arrival on Earth is my lack of knowing everyone. There were originally one hundred people who landed on Earth. Aside from our four main characters, I can't name many more. I know, say, about ten other kids and most of their names were only mentioned in passing. There's a lack of constant information in this book, and I hope that is remedied with book two.
The ending satisfies most questions about why many of the characters were led down the paths they followed. It's fast and stunning and, in truth, it has me begging for more. Certain aspects of it completely blew my mind and I can't wait for book two because of this. So many questions, so much shock, a slight bit of hatred in there. It's just, wow. It makes you wish the rest of the book had such an explosive bang. Instead, the speed of the rest of the book was hindered by a rather extensive flashback in nearly every chapter. While I enjoyed them, I wish they were, say, a page and a half shorter. An interesting writing style, but they were just too long and disrupted the flow of the story constantly.
In the end, it's a solid book, but it reads more like a television show. The lack of written emotional connection to all characters will be easily displayed on a screen. It has the general descriptions that can be brought to life on screen with special effects, but not in the pages of a book. Sure, I can't wait to watch the television show, but I can't wait for the promises that book two (potential season two?) holds.
Watch if you want to be blown away by the sheer amazingness, but know that there are potential spoilers for the book.
FTC Disclaimer: I did not receive any form of compensation in return for my honest review.