As cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.
It sounded like a good idea, mankind forced to retreat to space when Earth becomes inhabitable only to run out of resources 300 years later and attempt to establish themselves on Earth again. So far so good.
Unfortunately this is where the “good” ends and two dimensional characters, dull plot and lack of reasoning begins.
The storytelling was also annoying. I don’t mind an occasional flashback in a novel but when it’s every chapter, and all the chapters are from a different MC’s view, it gets confusing and too much.
The spaceship is divided into three colonies: Phoenix, where the important people apparently live, while conditions in Walden and Arcadia are dismal. For a while the space ship has not been able to support the populations so in order to get rid of people, convicts are being put to death. The story follows a group of young offenders. On their 18th birthday they are supposed to get a retrial but lately nobody has gotten pardoned and everybody have been executed on their birthday. But 100 young offenders get a chance to live when the chancellor on the space ship decides to send them to Earth to see how conditions are, specifically if there is still radiation. On the day of the kids being sent down by a drop ship, Bellamy, whose sister is among those being sent to Earth, forces his way onto the ship by shooting the chancellor while Glass escapes in the chaos and manages to outrun the guards. The kids are dropped to Earth, it is a hard landing, some people die, the rest try to set up some kind of camp with what supplies weren’t damaged in the landing. A boy named Graham sort of takes over as leader but Wells, the chancellors son, disagrees with his decisions. The final main character, Clarke, sets up a medical tent and tries to heal the wounded with her medical training. The rest of the book basically follows the four perspectives, Glass on the ship, Bellamy, Wells and Clarke on Earth. The kids on Earth are faced with numerous problems and despite the fact that they are in quite dire circumstances romance blossoms.
Bellamy: the boy who grew up in depressing circumstances with a single mother who gives birth to a second child, Octavia, in secret. As people are only allowed to have one child on the space ship Octavia must be hidden in a closet for most of the time. Bellamy loves her and shoulders most of the responsibility for caring for her. When Octavia is to be sent to Earth, Bellamy immediately hatches a plan to go with her and protect her. When they get to Earth all he wants is for them to break away from the main group and go it alone. I found this extremely short sighted of Bellamy, what on Earth will they do then? Just the two of them, if something happens to him she will be left alone. Anyway, things don’t work out according to his plan as Octavia isn’t a little baby anymore and makes choices of her own.
Glass: the girl who escaped from the Earth bound drop ship. She heads straight to her ex-boyfriend’s apartment, not to her mother, only to find that he has a new girlfriend. I fail to see why she thought this was a good idea as apparently she ditched him quite brutally (to save him of course). She eventually makes it to her mother’s apartment, her mother gets her pardoned, it is implied that she went to a lot of trouble to do it and that Glass should be grateful and not cause more trouble. Glass does not seem very grateful to her mother, she immediately runs back to her ex and they get together again. Basically, their story is to mawkish for me to enjoy.
Clarke: she was on her way to become a doctor on Phoenix when her parents got executed and she got sent to confinement for being an accessory to their crime. She was in love with Wells but he betrayed her. She is angry with him. She seemed to me to be the only one of the four main characters that had redeeming qualities. Unfortunately she was a bit of a Mary Sue.
Wells: the chancellors son with the future ahead of him. Loses his mother, meets Clarke, falls in love with Clarke, betrays Clarke so that she is sent to prison and her parents executed, feels bad about that, decides to endanger humanity to save the girl he loves from execution and have her sent to Earth instead, commits a stupid crime to get himself sent to Earth, tries to win Clarke back. Basically he is the dumbest and most selfish character I have come across for a long time. There is a line in the book which goes like this:
“A terrifying plan began to take shape, and his chest tightened in fear as he realized what he would have to do. But Wells knew there was no other way. To save the girl he loved, he’d have to endanger the entire human race.”
Yes, you read that right. To save his ex-girlfriend he just about sentences everyone else who’s left on the ship to death. Because, dangnabbit, he just luvs her so, so much. Such a nice guy.
“His plan was reckless and stupid and incredibly selfish, but he didn’t care. He had to make sure Clarke was sent to Earth instead of the execution chamber.”
This plan isn’t incredibly selfish, it is so incredibly selfish that words don’t begin to cover it. All the main characters, except for Mary Sue Clarke perhaps, do something incredibly selfish and justify it to themselves somehow, but Wells definitely takes the cake. Selfishness, thy name is Wells Jaha.
First of all, I could not understand why the three space colonies where so unequal. Basically Phoenix is the best, Walden somewhere in the middle and you’re screwed if you’re born on Arcadia because, apparently, you can never move between these colonies, work yourself up. Why, when resources are dwindling, do Phoenicians continue to host parties with wine and fancy dresses while the other colonies go without? What the hell happened that Phoenix is full of socialites while Walden and Arcadia people struggle?
Second, the drop ship. What the hell? Humans managed to build themselves a space ship but the only other way they can think of to get to Earth is by loading people into what is basically a container and dropping them to Earth. Forget possible radiation on Earth, it is a miracle in itself that most of the kids survived the landing.
Which brings me to my last point. What the hell happened to Earth? There is apparently the possibility that there might still be radiation. Why? They only refer to it as the cataclysm. What happened? Was it a war, nuclear bombing all around, a massive volcanic eruption, an asteroid that crashed into the Earth? It can’t have been to bad as Clarke finds an old church somewhere in the forest with some of the windows still intact. It also can’t have been to sudden or desperate as the people who made it to the space ship apparently took the time to bring some books and useless stuff, for survival at least, with them.
I get that this is a series but the first book was just so ill explained that it makes no sense. Couple that with badly written characters and you’ve basically got my reason for not picking up the next book in this series.