It can always get worse. Remember that.
Actually one of my favorite lines is from the soon to be classic film Ever After: “No matter how bad things get, they can always get worse.” That sums up The 100.
The premise is solid. I love a sci-fi drama as much as the next person. I’m even okay with a little romance (I still love you to death Fortune’s Pawn). But…that’s not what The 100 is. Let’s call it what it is…sappy teenage romance with a love triangle. Who needs rationality when you have two dreamy teenage boys pining after you? NOT ME. The book caught my attention with the clever claim of a cross between The Lord of the Flies and Hunger Games. It’s not. Set some distance in the future, humans are living in city-like space ships above Earth’s toxic orbit. At least that’s what it sounds like. They designed the ships to escape the poisonous atmosphere on Earth. I think. Maybe. I’m not sure. In order to save their species, the powers that be decide to send 100 juvenile delinquents to Earth to try and recolonize the planet. They are not sure if it is habitable and teenage criminals seem to be the most expendable (though perhaps not the most likely to achieve success, but whatever, common sense is not required). Told from the perspective of four lust ravaged teenagers – Glass (Luke’s ex), Clarke (Wells’ ex), Wells (in love with Clarke), and Bellamy (in love with Clarke)- romance is paramount, drama is secondary, and survival is tertiary.
There’s no background, no world building, and no flow. The label sci-fi is a stretch and the writing is average. I would go as far as to say there was no point. Except for kissing. Lots of kissing.
(Now is anyone surprised that the CW decided to adapt this for television. No? Thought not. Although in all honesty, when choosing between the book and the show, pick the show. Blasphemy, I know…)
Here are a few highlights:
“But I should warn you… I’ll probably take off my shirt at some point.”
“Being Luke’s ex-girlfriend somehow felt odder than being an escaped convict.”
“Before she realized what she was doing, she had thrown her arms around Bellamy. He joined in her laughter as he staggered backward, and wrapped his arms around her waist, lifting her up and spinning her through the air. The colours of the clearing swirled, green and gold and blue all blurring until there was nothing in the world but Bellamy’s smile, lighting up his eyes. Finally he set her down gently on the ground. Be he didn’t loosen his grip. Instead he pulled her even closer, and before Clarke had time to catch her breath, his lips were on hers. A voice in her brain told her stop, but it was overpowered by the smell of his skin and the pressure of his touch. Clarke felt like she was melting into his arms, losing herself in the kiss. He tasted like joy, and joy tasted better on Earth.”
“Clarke rose with a groan, her muscles stiff from their hike yesterday. But it was a good kind of pain; she’d walked through a forest that hadn’t been seen by a single human being for 300 years. Her stomach squirmed as she thought about another distinction she’d inadvertently earned — the first girl to kiss a boy on Earth since the Cataclysm.”
“He didn’t care whether they’d found the missing medicine. There was no drug strong enough to repair a broken heart.”
So. Why did I read this? Because I don’t hate romance and I love sci-fi. Unfortunately, this had too much of the former and almost none of the latter. I wanted to read at least a bit about survival on a strange planet, not how gorgeous Clarke looks with bags under her eyes. Early on in the book, when Wells is realizing the depth of Clarke’s anger, he vows “I’ll make her fall in love with me”. This should have been a red flag. I should have heard
Anjelica Huston’s Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent’s voice saying “No matter how bad things get, they can always get worse.” But no. I pressed on so that you don’t have to. I suffered for you, dear readers. However, if you’re the type of person who, when imagining recolonizing a potentially toxic planet, wonders who will claim the title of first Earth kiss– this book is totally for you. Seriously. Don’t let my cynicism ruin your run of the mill kissing competition.
(Because like every self-respecting survivor living on a mysterious planet thinks… Fuck antibiotics. Who needs ‘em?)
For those 21 and over, pair this with Jamie Oliver’s mulled wine, you’ll need it. It’s Christmas in a glass.