Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date: Available Now from Hodder Paperbacks (UK)/Little Brown for young readers (U.S.)
In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth’s toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland… before it’s too late.
Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they’ve only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they’re haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust – and even love – again.
So this has recently been made into a hugely popular tv show – sadly I could not get on with it, too many beautiful people considering what was supposed to have happened to them and, well you know, real life not everyone has perfect hair (especially not just after they have crashed to earth in a rather clunky spaceship!). BUT the premise sounded fabulous and so I thought I would read the novel and I have to say, for me, that was a MUCH better plan.
Now whilst this is not the best YA I have read in terms of world building and character depth it IS highly entertaining, flows along at a great pace,has a good mixture of past and present so you know what is going on and why, and has a group of eclectic characters which come across much better on the page than they did on the screen.
Humans live in space now, Earth being too toxic due to radiation, but this cannot go on indefinitely, there are not enough resources. This means that having children is limited, and really the slightest excuse is used to execute any inhabitant and therefore reserve more food and oxygen for everyone else. Young people who are “confined” for a crime are not executed until they are 18 (for some reason that didnt really make much sense but hey, dramatic license and all) and are supposedly offered the chance of a pardon. A decision is taken, instead of executing them, that they will be sent to Earth to see if it is liveable. And so their adventure begins..
As far as characterisation goes, I really liked a lot of this story – most especially the relationship between Bellamy and Octavia, a rare brother and sister pairing. Something is off about Octavia but Bellamy has spent his whole life protecting her and is not about to stop now. I also loved Clarke, the closest thing the group have to a Doctor and very practical she makes a good “grounded” character to offshoot everyone else. I was not so keen on the Clarke/Wells dynamic could have done without it really – their whole relationship is a bit namby pamby and often illogical, I hope that in the next instalment it has a bit more “bite” to it. Add to those mentioned a fair few other supporting characters, and Glass who is still up in space and you have a decent mix of differing personalities to make the tale interesting.
The world building is fairly simple but this does allow the prose to flow well, I felt this was really a set up for future novels in the series. There is some description of how the “space station” works and how Earth is now, enough to give a background but not overly complicated. For the story being told it was enough, as an avid YA reader I would have perhaps liked a little more. But then at 45 I’m probably not the target audience!
The ending was WHAT?? Don’t stop there! And it kind of made the whole thing for me. I shall be reading onwards because I was engaged and really did enjoy it.
A solid if not spectacular start to a presumed ongoing series.
Happy Reading Folks!