This week's edition of Book vs Adaptation: The 100 by Kass Morgan
I've been watching The 100 for three years now, and although it took five episodes for this show to grow on me, I've been hooked ever since! Even if the science/logic is sometimes sketchy and the characters manage to magic themselves out of ridiculously dangerous situations with hair and makeup intact, I have come to love the characters. Especially all the fierce women on that show. Literally every single one of them is a QUEEN
Not to mention all the POC and queer representation. This is a show that has a truly diverse cast and doesn't pigeonhole its characters by race, gender, or sexual orientation.
I was really curious about what the source material for this show was like. Did it have the same level of moral complexity? Did it prominently feature women, POC, and queer characters? Were they even kind of the same story, or was the show just based on the same premise as the books?
Well, long story short, the book and the show are nearly nothing alike.
Full disclosure, I've only read two of the books (and I'm not even sure how many books there are total). The entire first book was only the first episode of the TV show, which was unexpected but really cool. You have a lot more time to digest and explore the ship and the motivations for sending down the original 100 when you're reading, and you don't expect the same fast paced action that you want from a TV show. I liked that the book featured characters both on the ship and on the ground, which gave a clearer picture of what was going on in both places instead of focusing on the kids sent to the ground.
On the other hand, the show has branched out and covered so much ground and put its characters in crazy situations and ethical dilemmas that are so far beyond the scope of the book that the book kind of seems childish now. If the first book was a single episode, imagine the scope of an entire season, let alone 4 seasons that have each expanded the worldbuilding, characters, and strained relationships from the season before. Characters I once hated are now characters I can understand and empathize with (even if I still don't like them). The whiny teenagers are now complex young adults that have to make decisions and face consequences I certainly don't envy. The technology and the mythology of Earth is incredibly rich, detailed, and fascinating.
Also, the book doesn't particularly feature strong women, POC, or queer characters. I think all the POVs were white, and there were POC in the periphery, but no queer characters that I can remember. I guess you can assume certain characters are POC just because of ambiguity in how they are described physically, but there was little to no evidence of multiculturalism in a spaceship that supposedly harbors the last humans from all over the world.
Honestly, reading the books makes me appreciate the show so much more. Now that I see how sparse the source material is, I am astounded by how much depth the showrunners have been able to draw out of it. They've created characters I'm extremely invested in and a world that is always full of surprises. I will definitely be sticking with the show, and probably won't be reading any more books in this story!