Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan (The 100 #1)

kass-morgan-the-100Normally, I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but for the purposes of this one, there will be spoilers. If you are here because you watch the show, what I spoil won’t be much of a surprise.

I happened upon The 100, the television show, when I was browsing Netflix one day. I watched the show in a day and while I thought it was good I didn’t really get drawn in until Season 2 and 3.

I was doing very well through the hiatuses. I missed the characters but I didn’t feel a deep ache in my soul like I did when I used to watch Battlestar Galactica. Then I found and completed ‘The 100’ Character Book Tag!

Comparing some of my favorite book characters to the characters on this show made me see the show’s characters in a new way. I’ve been reawatching the show for the last month, and I decided to give the book series a try while I wait for Season 4.

Kass Morgan’s young adult dystopian series, The 100, follows one hundred delinquents, that are considered expendable by society, are they are sent to a radioactive earth to see if it’s survivable. It could be their second chance, or a suicide mission.

The book is told with each chapter featuring the thoughts of a different character. Clarke Griffin was arrested for treason and is haunted by the memory of what she really did. Wells Jaha is the chancellor’s son. He followed the girl he loved to Earth, but she may never forgive him. Bellamy Blake fought his way onto the drop ship to protect his sister. Glass Sorenson escaped the transport but finds that life on the Colony might be just as dangerous.

Am I missing something? That was the first book I had when I closed this book after reading the final page. If I didn’t know its silver screen counterpart I would have a hard time believing this had been picked up for a show on The CW.

I wish that there was a pill I could take so that I could separate my thoughts and knowledge of universes that are told through different mediums like this one. I am so use to the mind game that is The 100, the television series, that going into this I expected faster pacing.

I also expecting Jason Rotherberg-ian style trauma and I was surprised to find that the source material he was working for was nothing like the show he created. Sure, things are horrible and there is a death in this first book–no, I will not spoil that–but this book leans very heavy on the romance. At least, for the first book in a series.

The kaleidoscopic view of this book seemed a little too wide for characters who really seemed to have nothing to lose. What I expected was to see the transport land and then the delinquents would go through any survival skills they may have been taught on the arc.

Instead, the book focuses on setting up romance. There’s no real leader and no real stakes aside from a missing medicine chest and dwindling rations. You would think that somewhere along the way, someone would have taught these kids something.

Nope. These kids were apparently dragged out of their cells with no preparation whatsoever and expected to survive. The only one who seems to have any survival skills at all is Bellamy Blake, who forced his way onto the drop ship.

And when did he pick those up? It sounded like he found out that morning that Octavia was going to  Earth?

So while the stakes aren’t that high on the ground, they don’t seem to be much higher on the space station, The Colony, either. The one escaped prisoner, Glass, gives us insight into life on The Colony, but not that there is any reason for the mission, until the very end.

This is one of the reasons I have to give it to the television show. Some of my favorite characters on the show aren’t in the book, but they made the plot much more believable.

I find it much more exciting to follow the people on the station as they try to solve the problem than to follow characters who seem to have no interest in why things are happening around them. What I got from Glass was a myopic view. I saw her love of Luke but not much else about life on the Colony.

It isn’t until Glass returns to her room and the station is sealed off that we get the hint that anyone knew about the station dying.

Now, I want to give the book series the benefit of the doubt and I do plan to read Day 21 in the near future. I am hoping that now that interpersonal relationships have been established the plot will pick up.

I think one of my biggest concerns with this book was that there was no undulating emotions. From the first lines of this book I had really high hopes. Chapter 1 opened with:

The door slid open, and Clarke knew it was time to die.

It made me tense and really anxious for Clarke and excited for the plot ahead. I wanted to be on this ride with the characters. Their mission is exciting and unknown and yet we just scratch the surface of these characters going on this high stakes mission.

We’re told over and over again about Bellamy’s love for his sister. We’re told over and over again about Wells wanting to win back Clarke’s approval. We’re told about the trial and how Clarke holds it against wells.

I read the words but I failed to feel the emotion behind them.

What I was really craving here was an in depth psychology as to what these prisoners experienced. They were all sent to confinement for different things and with so many points of view it seemed like there should have been some introspection about what time was like in confinement and what it felt like to be released.

No one really questioned anything! It felt like nothing seemed odd. Like sending a transport to the ground was an everyday thing. I expected a little bit of euphoria or at least a bit of excitement.

Most of the book is flat. Its more plot driven instead of building complex character psychology. (I am thinking about Octavia in particular!)

Now, like I said, I wish that I could take a pill and forget the series and just read the book. My rating of the book might actually be higher, but because I found that the book focused too much on romance and handwringing I walked away feeling lukewarm.

I will however, continue the series to see if it picked up. After all, Kass Morgan is currently working on the fourth installment, so I must be missing something.

I have many more thoughts about the book as a whole and certain characters, if you want to discuss any, we can party in the comments. (Especially Wells! Let’s discuss Wells!)

Final Rating: 3 Stars

The 100 by Kass Morgan is now available in stores. You can purchase a copy through your local independent bookseller, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.


Published by Lauren Busser

Lauren Busser is a fiction writer and essayist. She is an associate editor at Tell-Tale TV, where she writes about all things tv. She has had fiction appear in five : 2 : one magazine’s #thesideshow and her nonfiction has appeared in Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. You can find her talking about tv, film, and knitting on Twitter @LaurenBusser.

19 thoughts on “Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan (The 100 #1)

  1. I was so disappointed with the end of this book. I decided to buy the other two books on sale a few days ago just to see if I’m missing something between the books and show, but I was really annoyed with that ending. It was like she just stopped writing. I thought my Kindle was missing a chapter or something.


      1. Yeah, Bellamy was such a good character. And I liked Clarke when she wasn’t complaining or overthinking everything. The love triangle was too annoying. I would’ve preferred to read the book from one or two POVs. There were way too many. 😂


      2. Yeah, I honestly have no idea what I’m in store for with the next two books. They were cheap in paperback so I thought I’d read the rest of the series just to see how much of it they used for the show. I still haven’t finished the last season of the show either. I’m so behind.


      3. The show is good! Jason Rothenberg did a good job taking the source material and giving a kick in teeth, so to speak! I have no idea what I am in store for either but I hope the stakes are raised some! I have the book on hold at my library so hopefully that comes on soon.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. We’ll have to compare notes. I still need to review book one. I swear the actor who plays Bellamy in the show is probably responsible for why I watched the show in the first place. I love him. 😍 The author should thank him. Lol.


      5. Lol! The entire cast is good. I was sold by Henry Ian Cusick as Kane, although I hated him in the beginning. Dude, you really going to kill a doctor when oxygen deficiency is about to be a problem? Foresight!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Plus can we just be honest and say there were no real stakes! Everyone seems to just blindly accept that this thing happened. No “woohoo I am not getting executed” or “I should have paid more attention on Earth Skills!” Nope! Just “okay…we’re on earth now let’s wait for adults and try to find supplies!” No teenager has every done that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I know. It seemed like a good concept but it was a bit off. Like how was Clarke so calm and prepared to be on Earth when she’d never been there before? I thought they were way too comfortable with everything. You’d think they’d be scared. And then the whole Clarke, Bellamy, and Wells thing I felt like we wasted a ton of time on that. Oh and those flashbacks were so annoying. I had wished those scenes came about in a more organic fashion. And to have every character’s backstory told that way annoyed me.


  2. It seems like it was more telling what they felt that actually developing the characters, that sucks 😦 It’s supposed to be show, don’t tell, because that way you get to know a character and understand how they might feel in some ways.
    Was Wells’ destiny the same in the book? I’m really curious. I hated what happened to him in the show.


      1. Wow, Clarke’s relationship with her mother is really important in the show, so that really must change quite a bit. The show actually focuses a lot on how the young survive and how the adults do, how they are different and how they can learn from each other. So that’s interesting!


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