Thursday, March 3, 2016

Book Review - The 100

From the publisher: No one has set foot on Earth in centuries -- until now.

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth's radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents -- considered expendable by society -- are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life...or it could be a suicide mission.

Clarke was arrested for treason, though she's haunted by the memory of what she really did. Wells, the chancellor's son, came to Earth for the girl he loves -- but will she ever forgive him? Reckless Bellamy fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And Glass managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind's last hope.

You, like me, may have seen the 100 pop up in your Netflix or Amazon video recommendations. I gave it a shot and wound up really liking the show, so I figured I would check out the book as well.
This epic scifi / romance by Kass Morgan, didn't disappoint.

First let me clarify that the novel and the TV show differ considerably so don't fear spoilers if you're working your way through one or the other.

This story is told from four points of view, something I've heard you should not do in YA. But again, here's proof of an author breaking the rules and doing a brilliant job of it. The four parallel stories wind together telling a far richer story than possible with just one or even two points of view. As I read I found myself emotionally pulled one way, then another and another. I was kept off balance, and so kept reading.

I found all the characters likable, though a little flat. They were believable for the most part with natural dialogue and reactions that I appreciated. This carries through the entire story, from the premise to the tech, to the emergencies and dangers that arise. It all feels like something that could actually happen.

I appreciated too, that Kass wove in survival elements without some vague and unlikely end-of-the-world scenario. This is clearly not the end of the world, it's the retaking of an old world. It's not much of a twist but it was so much more hopeful than most of the YA survival books out there that it was a breath of fresh air.

What to know: There is language and violence aplenty in this story. Sex is also a very real thing in this world. While there is nothing graphic, characters do a lot of kissing, hands roving and sinking down onto couches etc. Nudity is mentioned but again not graphic. All that in mind, I can't recommend this story for younger readers. For more mature readers this is a great book, genuine science fiction with some great twists, fun characters and solid writing.

~SJA

SOUND OF THE MOON

Daniel Green was not like other young men. He was small-framed and lean and seemed perpetually distracted. He did not pay much attention to girls or sports or popular culture. And he was driven by a fearful purpose. Most different of all, he could kill things, things that should not exist. Things that only he could see. Things that only he could hear. Under the choral hum of the moon and the base thrum of the noonday sun he could kill with an efficiency and ferocity that would have horrified those with whom he shared the hallways of his university.



At fifteen, he’d killed his first Silent One. At seventeen he’d taken half a dozen. By twenty, nearly a hundred. It wasn’t hard to hunt something that thought itself utterly undetectable. He did not know what they were, nothing of their history or origins. He simply knew that they were evil. And he knew he alone could see them and hear their silence.



So it was not an unusual evening, as the dusk and a thin fog settled with a sigh over the ivy-clad campus. The moon came whispering over the horizon and Daniel walked casually down a seldom used path, the compound bow his father had purchased for him several years earlier on his shoulder. His father had hoped to draw him away from the strangely martial lifestyle the boy had chosen. Daniel obliged, letting his fencing and stick fighting fall away, and instead poured himself into the art of the bow. But the only hunting trips Daniel took were on his own, stalking his deadly foe as he did that night.



Perhaps fifty yards ahead a woman walked to work. She was only a little older than he, with dark hair that hung to her waist. He could hear the long tresses swishing and the quiet gurgle of her empty stomach. Her soul tinkled wearily, as if a dour harpist sat at her heart-strings plucking a tired dirge. Occasionally she glanced back at the boy with his weapon.



Daniel whistled a few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth and heard her heartbeat slow slightly. Murderous thugs didn’t whistle anything, much less Beethoven. She thought she was safe but she was anything but. Just a yard or two behind her, the Silent One crept, closing the distance. Daniel waited, acting as if he could not see and hear what he could.



It slid closer. Its gray-fleshed, black-feathered form silent. Even after all these years, the silence made his skin crawl. The smoke from its eyes trailed behind it, barely visible in the dusk. When it reached for the young woman, Daniel darted into the shadows beside the trail. He whipped the bow up into a ready position. The fibers of the string squealed. The pulleys groaned. The string thundered forward. He sent the arrow slashing through the air. It slammed between the creature’s shoulder blades. The razor-edged broad-head designed to kill a seven hundred pound elk burst from the creature’s chest. In a roar of blazing embers, its smoldering insides seemed to erupt forth and consume the rest of its black feathered form.



The young woman turned at a faint fluttering sound behind her. The dark figure with the bow had disappeared and the trail behind her was empty. She continued uninterrupted to her wearisome job, unaware of the burst of silent violence and death that had saved her life. Above her, unheard, the moon hummed.


~SJA