The 100 – Day 21
This is the second book of the four The 100 books. I read the first one last year and wasn’t sure if I liked it very much or not, but did find it compelling and found it an interesting concept. I think this one is better and builds upon the good of the first one by moving away from the kind of not so interesting suspense or mystery aspects of the first one and move more into what is compelling about the central conceit. Some things that really stand out to me with this one is the ways in which the callousness of the colony is more clearly understood. So as a reminder, humanity was almost entirely wiped out by a nuclear “cataclysm” and the orbiting space station/interconnected ark-like ships floating above the earth is all that remains of them. The 100 is a group of condemned teenagers who are used as pioneers/guinea pigs to determine if Earth, now a few hundred years later, is finally safe to live on again, as resources have become scarce and the colony is overcrowded. So that cruelty and callousness becomes more and more obvious and logical when it becomes clear about the ways in which scarcity and overuse of resources is a more consequential act.
The new Earth colony is now up and running. It’s known that there are other humans out there, but what is not known is how dangerous they are or what their whole deal is. I am a sucker for a good making a habitable space out of an emergency or shipwrecked situation story.
The 100 – Homecoming
In this one, we continue the story above, but with the colony’s resource situation becoming critical. The son of the chancellor, one of the primary protagonists of the novels sabotaged the air supply on the colony in order to expedite the 100’s mission and get himself sent along and so we’ve reached critical levels and the dropships are sending down whoever can get to them. What were designed as shuttles, are now used as escape pods.
The result of all this is that the military structures on board the colony gets transplanted to Earth and the same kinds of cruelty and control necessary for survival (as the argument went at least) are now being applied to Earth, where survival is still critical but no longer based in scarcity. And of course this leads to pushback and revolution.
The 100 – Rebellion
This last book comes after what clearly felt like a conclusion to the whole trilogy, and as such feels both as a misstep and a little unnecessary. That’s not to say that it’s bad, because it’s not really, but it does two things that feel unfortunate and unfair to the whole narrative as a consequence. So we got the end of the two big conflicts presented in the books: the 100 versus bad Earth-born, the 100 versus the colony structure, leading to a new kind of peace and stasis or balance by the end. So where are we now? Ummm…new people?
There is the introduction to a new cult like group of people who show up, kill a handful of people, and then kidnap a few of them to join the new group. Kidnapping has already been a plot convention of previous books.
So what we are left with is a book series that reached a reasonable conclusion now being forced through the playdoh factory shape of a tv show that needs to continue past a logical structure. For me what this most felt like was looking at the ways in which Walking Dead struggles to create scope. So we meet a character or a group and we’re told “OH! They are the baddest and worst and most dangerous group you could every imagine!” and so we spend some time dealing with them and finding ways to exploit, out-maneuver, defeat, etc. And we’re cool! We did it. There’s a conclusion. And then we’re told. NO ACTUALLY! Here’s ANOTHER group that’s a little worse than this most recent group, and inevitably not as WORST as the next one who will come next. And if you survived the last group? Too bad!
So the end of this book doesn’t feel like the actually conclusion of the series because there’s a kind of implied constant threat that more could be coming, right? So there’s a kind of feeling of uncomfortableness there. I don’t know if it’s a consequence of the tv show coming out and needing more source material or what, but it makes the series feel off-balance.