Plot: Mankind has fled to the stars after a nuclear war destroyed Earth. Generations later, 100 adolescent criminals are sent back to establish if the Earth is habitable or not. While the feared toxic and radiation levels are not a problem, Earth is far from safe.
Across the trilogy, several narrators must learn what they are prepared to do to survive – especially when the threat comes from their friends. Love has the chance to bloom while death stalks their footsteps. Loyalty and bravery are pulled into question and the teenagers show what they are capable of under extreme circumstances.
Quote: They needed their community. They were home.
Opinion: The trilogy grew on me with each book. The first book was a disappointment: it’s only purpose was setting up the second. The second book was better but the third was enjoyable. The multiple narrators worked, but the use of constant flashback distanced the reader from the characters. It was hard to understand their growth when it jumped between two time frames. It also restricted the amount the plotline could progress forward when it constantly jolted back again.
The progression of the characters and relationships was an issue. As young adults, it was understandable their emotions and hormones were all over the place. But the jump between breaking up/making up grew to be annoying. One chapter showed characters deeply in love. The next they hate the same person. Then it switches back again. It made the characters seem shallow and insecure – traits their other characteristics proved them not to be. Again, by the third book, this had settled down and it became a much more enjoyable read. It was easier to root for your favourites once they stopped being so childish.
The books are the inspiration behind the television series of the same name. While I would never draw a direct comparison, having watched the show threw me off. The books are aimed at a much younger audience – although main characters are killed, there is none of the violence or gore present in the show. Starting the books with one theme in mind and realising it is wrong made it hard to engage with the first book as my expectations were completely wrong. If you have watched the show: be aware. The books are very different.
The third book is by far the best. For the first two, violence and danger lurks in the background as a constant threat. By the third book, events actually take place and the increase of tension and the real possibility of character deaths makes the book far more engaging.
However, all of that being said, I’m glad I read them. They were easy reads – again suggesting a younger audience – and were different to what I anticipated. If you can stick through the first book and a half, the plotline becomes gripping and the characters realistic. It is a refreshing premise, blurring the lines between science-fiction and fantasy but lacked a hook to draw me in.