To be very honest, I originally read the first book in this series when it was published back in 2013 and somehow forgot to review it back then. (I seriously checked and couldn’t believe it wasn’t on here yet!) I really liked it and thought that it was an interesting concept, but I didn’t really realize that the series had become a whole *thing* until I was recently talking to some people who mentioned the CW television series. I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t really watch TV — I know, it’s hard for most people to comprehend — so I didn’t even know the television series existed until after they had started airing the 4th season! Yeah… That whole “not working with teens in the public library anymore” thing probably played a large role in my oblivious nature as well, but I digress. I decided that I was going to “binge listen” to the audiobooks and, as it turns out, my lack of knowledge about the continuation of the series has paid off nicely. Instead of waiting a year or more after one book ends, I can literally head on over to OverDrive and download the next audiobook from my local public library as soon as I am ready (as long as it is checked in — and I was extremely lucky in this instance).
So, who were The 100? They were 100 juvenile delinquents who were scheduled to be executed on their 18th birthdays but, instead, were allowed to be guinea pigs for re-settlement of Earth. Why did they leave Earth in the first place? Well, *they* didn’t. But about 300 years prior, when a “cataclysm” (i.e. nuclear war) left Earth uninhabitable, a few hundred people were herded onto The Colony — a space station of interconnected ships that orbited the Earth — to keep the human race from dying out. For centuries, people lived and died in The Colony and could only dream of a day when the radiation would wear off enough that it would be safe to live on Earth once again. After it became clear that The Colony’s life-support systems would not last much longer, though, it was decided that The 100 could be sent to Earth as advance test subjects. When I heard the premise of this book, all I could think was “futuristic Lord of the Flies” and I was sold. If you enjoyed Across the Universe and/or These Broken Stars, you should definitely check out this series.
Imagine a world in which every person had the opportunity to resurrect someone on their 18th birthday. It sounds kind of cool at first, but then you have to imagine making that incredibly difficult choice. Do you think YOU could choose to bring someone back if you had to go through all the people you’ve lost in your lifetime and only pick one person?
For Lake Devereaux, the choice is nearly impossible. You see, her parents have long expected her to use her resurrection to bring back her brother who had an accident and became a quadriplegic. (There’s just that tricky little thing about how they would have to be sure to kill him first — minor detail!) To complicate things even more, though, Lake ends up in a devastating car accident in which both her boyfriend (Will) and her best friend (Penny) die. Not only does she need to go through the painful physical recovery after the accident, but she needs to sort out her emotions in a few short weeks before she turns 18. She needs to decide whether she will go through with the original plan her parents concocted or whether she will bring back one of her friends. Would she and Will have ended up breaking up at some point anyway, or was he her one true love? And could she really feel right not choosing Penny even if it was for Will? What will her parents do if she doesn’t choose her brother? And does she even care? Such a great premise for a story… I’m only sad that the rest of y’all have to wait until August to read it.
Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from Genesis, a former colony of Earth that is now fighting for independence. She loves Genesis and is more than willing to lay her own life on the line to help in the fight for independence — especially since she doesn’t really have anything to lose. As an orphan, she is not even worried about leaving anyone behind if she should die. The biggest problem, nevertheless, is that she has a very high likelihood of dying because the “mech” (robotic) armies have been overpowering the human armies of Genesis for decades. She knows there must be *some* way for Genesis to prevail, but she isn’t all too sure she will be around to see whether it can be done.
Abel is a mech who *should* be her enemy, but he’s technically programmed to follow her command. You’re probably thinking, “What?!? I don’t get it.” Well… When Abel was programmed, it never occurred to his creator that he might fall into “enemy” hands, so he didn’t include anything in Abel’s programming to specify that a non-Earth human should not be allowed control. Add that little “glitch” to the his extraordinary talents, and you have a most unusual mech. You see, most mechs only had one purpose — some were soldiers, some were mechanics, others were medics, and so on. Abel was a prototype mech who was programmed to do all of those jobs and more. He was even given DNA from his creator, practically making him a child rather than just a creation. Topping it all off is the fact that, after being left all alone on a spaceship for thirty years, his programming evolved enough that he seemed to develop feelings and a personality. A personality that makes him *resent* the fact that he needs to follow Noemi’s orders. (His sass kind of reminded me of Iko from The Lunar Chronicles!)
I don’t know how much more I can say without getting all “spoilery” on you, but I think it goes without saying that a human who has been taught to mistrust mechs and a mech who doesn’t want to serve a particular human make for a rather unlikely team. But Abel doesn’t really have a choice and Noemi doesn’t really have any other special advantages in the fight against Earth, so teaming up is the only logical conclusion.
Liesl remembers when she used to go into the woods as a child and play with Der Erlkönig [the Goblin King]. She found it strange that he kept asking for her hand in marriage since she was only a child, but he persisted. As she grew older, she stopped traveling so often into the woods, but she still heard tales of the Der Erlkönig — especially from her grandmother, Constanze, who urged Liesl to respect the “old laws” so that she could keep herself safe as the Der Erlkönig searched for his eternal bride. Though Leisl was primarily occupied with helping to run her family’s inn, she preferred to spend her spare time composing and playing music with her brother, Josef. She didn’t give much thought to Der Erlkönig and his search for an eternal bride, but then her sister, Käthe, was kidnapped by goblins. Suddenly, Leisl’s entire world was turned upside down — because Der Erlkönig had not only taken her sister away, but he had also clouded the minds of everyone around her.
As she struggled to get out of the house and search for her missing sister, the people around her, who didn’t know who this “Käthe” was, seemed to think Leisl had a mental breakdown. Only Constanze could see through this illusion, but her family thought of *her* as an old woman who had lost her own grip on reality long ago. Fortunately, she conspired to sneak Leisl out of the house so that she could find Der Erlkönig and negotiate for her sister’s safe return. Though this book was set at the turn of the 19th century and Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forest was set in modern times, it somehow made me think of that story. (Maybe it’s because of the forest setting? Don’t ask. I have no idea how my mind works!) All I know is that I recommend fans of Black’s work to check this out when it’s released in February.
Anna Morgan is able to communicate with the dead. Or, to be more accurate, the dead are able to communicate with Anna Morgan. This communication doesn’t require fancy summoning rituals like a séance or anything; the spirits of the dead can be found nearly everywhere and many of them compete for her attention on a regular basis. Why? Because they are hoping she will be able to help them complete some final task before they move on. These mental hitchhikers have been accosting Anna since she was a small child. In fact, when she was only a toddler, Anna was abandoned in a food court with a note — “This child is possessed.” — pinned to her clothing. Anna has spent most of her life being shuffled between foster homes and psychiatric institutions because people just don’t know what to make of her. But, luckily, she has found two people she can count on — her best friend, Deo, and her therapist, Dr. Kelsey. Deo is the closest thing Anna has to family, and the two of them look out for one another no matter what. Dr. Kelsey, on the other hand, has helped Anna to deal with her gift and to erect mental walls to contain or keep out spirits as necessary. Talk about an invaluable skill!
Occasionally, Anna lets down her guard to help a spirit in need and Molly is one such case. Anna doesn’t know the entire story, but she knows that Molly was a murder victim who wants Anna’s help bringing her killer to justice. First, though, they need to get in touch with Molly’s grandfather and convince him that Anna is not just a scam artist looking for a payday. Since he has contacts in law enforcement, he is the best possible person to contact… but he is also very skeptical, so Anna has her work cut out for her. This book is a wild ride with plenty of action and mystery throughout, and it even has a dash of conspiracy theories thrown into the mix. With some fairly graphic descriptions of violence, though, I feel compelled to forewarn anyone who might be squeamish. If you enjoy murder mysteries like The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, though, you should definitely check this one out.
The O’Sullivan brothers lived alone and did their best to get by, but it was tough having a dead father and an absentee mom (she took off with an orthodontist who didn’t seem to keen on having teen-aged step-sons). Sean had to put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold to take care of his younger brother Finn; he worked as an EMT instead. Finn was an awkward boy whom the townspeople all seemed to talk/worry about, and Sean’s resentment was fairly evident. Then, one day, Finn found a girl in their barn. Roza was badly hurt, but she refused to go to the hospital, so Sean took her inside their house and did his best to mend her injuries. They decided to give Roza the keys to the unused apartment in the back of their house, and her presence seemed to help all three of them thrive… until the day Roza disappeared from Bone Gap.
Sean was heart-broken and Finn was devastated because he largely blamed himself. He swore that there was a man who took Roza away, but he couldn’t really describe the man other than the strange way he moved through the cornfields. He felt that if he could just do a better job at describing the man, he could save her. People in town had always called Finn names like “space man” because of he always seemed to lack focus and didn’t really look people in the eye. He also seemed to have a hard time recognizing people, though his vision was technically fine. The only person Finn seemed to get along with was a girl named Petey, whom most of the townspeople teased for being “ugly.” Petey believed Finn when he said that a man took Roza away, and she was determined to help him solve the mystery, but she was so self-conscious she couldn’t help but wonder if Finn was just pretending to like her.
I’m gonna be perfectly honest and admit that I actually had to start listening to this audiobook over again because I was about half way through and all sorts of confused. The book changes perspectives between Finn and Roza — as he looks for her and she deals with having been taken — and also goes back in time a bit, at times, to explain how everything came to be. I mean, I was doing chores like mowing the lawn and folding laundry, so it’s not like I was focused on something terribly exciting that took my attention away… But it was confusing enough that I really couldn’t go on without starting over. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing, but I just figured it was worth mentioning in case any of y’all start to read/listen to this book and end up feeling confused, too. It was totally worth starting over again, in my opinion, so I would recommend doing the same if you also feel lost. Now that I “got” it, it was pretty awesome. If you like books with a touch of magical realism, like Belzhar, you should check this one out.
I find it funny that people are comparing this book to Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games but not to the Graceling series. Game of Thrones makes sense because of the crazy king who thirsts for power, uprisings from conquered peoples, and mystical power that comes into play… But I don’t think Hunger Games is too similar. I mean, yes, there is a competition in which people are trained to fight and then whittle down to a single champion — but they aren’t forced to join the competition in the first place and not everyone who loses the game will end up dead. The Graceling series, on the other hand, has a badass heroine who was trained as an assassin and used as a weapon of sorts by the king. Sounds an awful lot like Celaena Sardothien!
Celaena was known throughout Erilea as one of the greatest assasins of all time, but her legend didn’t include the fact that she was both beautiful and very young. When the Crown Prince, Dorian, went to see her in the salt mines of a prison camp called Endovier — where most people last only about a month, but she had already managed to last over a year — he came with a rather strange proposition. Even though she had been sent to Endovier by order of the king, he asked Celaena to enter the competition to be the king’s champion. There was a catch, of course… She had to use an alias so that the people of the kingdom wouldn’t know they had all been “petrified of a girl” all along, and she had to return to Endovier if she lost. Though it was tempting to simply refuse, Prince Dorian’s offer also came with a pretty awesome reward; if Celaena won the competition and served the king for a number of years, she could actually earn her freedom. She would have been a fool to refuse, but she also worried that she had been foolish to accept — especially once champions started turning up murdered… shredded by some unknown beast.