“But Bellamy had been doing stupid things his whole life, and he had no intention of stopping now.”
When I told my husband I had chosen this book for the sci-fi category of my 2016 reading challenge, he looked at me a little funny. “That’s that show you watch, right? The one where all the stupid teenagers do stupid things and screw everything up?”
Yes, he was right. It was that show. Based on this book.
But this book is different from the show, in some very fundamental plot and character related ways. There are some real fundamental differences I can’t talk about without posting spoilers, but the biggest difference for me is that the book isn’t quite as Clarke-oriented as the TV show is. It’s less about her personal story and more about what happens when you are raised in a claustrophobic environment with a bunch of people who seem to do irrational things and get on each other’s nerves a lot, probably because they are governed by a bunch of whackos who would rather dole out the death penalty than deal with reality and talk to their society about trouble their space station is having.
Because yes, that’s where they live, on a space station. And if you’re living under a rock and haven’t heard of this show (okay, maybe it’s not that well-known, but seriously…) the crazy people who run the station decide to send 100 juvenile convicts down to see if the earth they abandoned 300 years ago post-war is suitable again for human habitation. Sounds like the smartest idea ever, right? I mean, even though they are untrained, some of them are violent, and they will have next to no supplies and no help from anyone who knows anything, that’ll show the rest of the people on the station how habitable the world is.
It’s not like any of them are going to just up and die because no one has medical training and none of them have been exposed to Earth bacteria or viruses, right?
Okay, so the plot is a little weird, but the author had some interesting ideas about what these kids would go through when adapting to a natural environment, and those parts were pretty fun to read. I liked that the chapters alternated with not just Clarke’s story, but also Bellamy’s and Wells’. Although Wells is, honestly, much more of a douche in the book than he is in the show.
“Wells knew there was no other way. To save the girl he loved, he’d have to endanger the entire human race.”
He’s actually a lot less noble here… he does several crappy things for selfish reasons. But, on the upside, there’s a whole new story arc that you never got to see a glimpse of in the TV series, and that’s the story of Glass, one of the convicts who managed to escape before the drop ship left for Earth and also managed to get a pardon, thanks to her mom sleeping with the Vice Chancellor. Okay, they never say that outright, but it’s pretty thinly veiled.
It’s not the only morally dubious thing about this society. Along with the ridiculous number of people getting the death penalty for pretty much every offense (including unlicensed parenthood) without much of a trial, there are also horrible medical experiments on children, a terrible caste system that abuses people (or rewards them) based on what part of the station they were born on, and really abusive law enforcement.
The 100 are kinda the lucky ones here.
I’m not sure if I like this better than the show or not. I did really enjoy Glass’s chapters, so I may go on to read the next book. This one was really short, and I was completely caught off-guard when it ended (rather abruptly) leaving storylines hanging out all over the place.