Posted in The 100 - TV discussion

Time doesn’t always heal all: the issue with the 6 and a half year time jump in The 100

Time doesn’t always heal all: the issue with the 6 and a half year time jump in The 100.

Find me on Twitter, @nightxcourt.

As we approach the seventh and final season of the CW’s The 100, I am finding myself reflecting more and more on the last few seasons. While we have no real season 7 content, we have had casting news and brief teasers of what to expect from the new season. As usual, the cast and producer promise season 7 to be unexpected, full of twists and turns, and the ‘best season yet.’ And while, if this were any other season, I’d be excited. But it’s not. It is the last season. And while this topic could (and most likely should) have a blog post solely dedicated on it, The 100 has too many characters, too many plot lines, and not enough time (I have mentioned this in several The 100 related posts on my blog). Therefore, the news of new characters, and this being the final season, is making me reflect on, in particular, seasons 5 and 6.

I do not disregard the first four seasons, however, as I believe they will play a vital part in the ending of the show, considering the mythology based on Eligius, the flame, and the radiation still mostly remains a mystery. But season 5, as by it’s end credits, closed off ‘book 1’ to transition to more of a sci-fi season 6 (and 7). However, season 5 did reset the show in it’s own way – starting off with a 6 and a half year time jump.

And this is where my issue comes in. Because while it is lovely and grand to think along the lines of:

Yay! We had a season [5] dedicated to resolving the character issues and relationships from the first 4 seasons, so we can cleanly transition to season 6, and start fresh on a new world . . .

. . .  it did nothing of the sort.

Instead, I felt like the writers completely missed the emotional mark on many of the character reunions (except for Bellarke, Bob’s performance when Bellamy finds out that ‘Clarke’s alive?’ will never not make me cry). For example, the reunion between Abby and Clarke felt rushed and lacklustre. It was jammed in, so they could move on to the next thing. The writers did not take time to explore the fact that these characters went over 6 years, nearly 7, without seeing each other.

What’s most irritating is that The 100 does have the ability to explore these darker, emotional thematic elements. Take Octavia Blake’s Blodreina/Red Queen season 5 storyline, for instance. The reason it worked so well is because the writers bothered to dedicate time to telling her story, showing the audiences how she went on this dark descent.

Red Queen is the second episode of season 5, and picks up shortly after they are closed in the bunker. We see Octavia training, unwilling to take her position as sole leader (the position granted to her by being Osleya, the champion of the conclave). We then see her wear the outfit of the commanders (and comically, and probably the most sanest moment of the entire show, state that instead of murdering the thieves as punishment…they just return the stolen blankets). She later decides it is not her. However, the adults around her are advising her to take control, and to calm the dissolution. While Octavia claimed them all as Wonkru, many of them still believed in their own clan systems. Eventually, Octavia does step up – and comes up with the mantra of ‘You are wonkru, or the enemy of wonkru’ and their begins the birth of the Red Queen and the infamous gladiator inspired fighting pits.

The episode then jumps ahead in time, to Octavia on her throne, covered in red war markings. She has changed from season 4, taken on a new persona – it is clear in her facial expressions, the camera work, the music. And we saw part of what made her this way.

While the season then does explore Octavia’s psyche and the trauma of living in the bunker for 6 and a half years, it isn’t until episode eleven, The Dark Year, that the audience finds out what made Octavia shut out her humanity and morph in to this Blodreina persona. I do find the timing of this episode curious, as it is towards the end of season 5. On one hand, it makes sense because of Octavia’s actions in the finale (ready to sacrifice herself, her persona as Blodreina, for her brother and her remaining people). On the other, I wonder if it would have been beneficial to have been earlier on in the season for the audiences. So much of season 5 felt dragged out, like a filler episode, that I think having this episode earlier on in the season would have helped it kept it’s momentum. While this was over a year ago now that it aired, I remember feeling frustrated that the show seemed to dwindle idly, and that The Dark Year was such a frequently referenced thing within the season, that it would have been beneficial to reveal it earlier and then see all the characters react and deal with it.

That was not the case, and it wasn’t dealt with much in season 6 either. So while I really enjoyed Octavia’s storyline (and I still did in season 6, although it wasn’t as nuanced), it is still a victim of The 100 not being able to handle a time jump well.

You can’t introduce such a momentous idea, or this big thing that impacts all of your characters in some shape or form and not deal with it. If you can’t commit to telling a story and seeing it through to the end, then why do it at all? By failing to truly commit, you’re missing out on it’s full potential and leaving it unfulfilled. (One example is the worms in season 5. That went no where. Or how The Dark Year was built up as such a mystery, caused incredible tension between Bellamy and Octavia, and you don’t see them dealing with it).

You can’t use the time jump as an excuse for not wanting to wrap up plot lines, or explain a character development. It feels like a deux ex machina – you’re using the time jump as a way to ‘heal’ everything that came beforehand. For example, Becho. You can’t just continuously tell audiences that these things happened, so it had this impact, and so on. You can’t do it through your characters, and if you’re having to explain it off-screen, then you really missed your mark. I would like to remind Jason that this is a visual media form of storytelling.

If season 5 was meant to wrap up book one, it left a lot of threads open for season 6, which were never tied off. Moments were briefly referenced (i.e. The Dark Year) but still, many characters still failed to deal with it. They just moved on. Yet, other characters were still dwelling on moments, and the writers (mainly Jason), would kindly (not) remind the audience, that it “only really happened a day ago in their time!!” This just shows that timeframes/structure is only convenient when the writers want it to be (or need it to be, because they don’t have the time or the skill to finish storylines or mend character relationships).

And sure. You can’t show everything that happened in the 6 and a half years. But if you’re introducing new and drastic relationships that you want audiences to be on board and root for, such as Madi and Clarke, or Becho, you’ve got to develop it or make the audiences care. They weren’t there for the 6 and a half years. But we’ve been here for the past four seasons. If these characters have changed, show us, and remain consistent. Madi and Clarke definitely worked better than Becho (hello flashbacks, hello Madi not being an established antagonist), but the writers still relied on the audiences to *fill in the gaps*.

That is my issue with the 6 and a year half time jump in The 100. The characters still had a lot of unresolved issues from the first 4 seasons, that don’t just disappear in the time jump. And the time jump created new ones too. And ultimately, it was a mess. They wanted to rebrand some characters and relationships (i.e. Echo, Becho, Kabby, Memori), which often meant either a) a complete lack of development, b) repetition of a previous storyline or c) some moments to show how it changed, but then ultimately not giving it any more screen time to make it make sense (I still don’t get the whole Memori break up, Raven and Shaw becoming a thing, when ultimately it led nowhere and just wasted screen time).

So, the time jump at the end of season 4/start of season 5 ultimately could have led to characters facing their issues with each other, dealing with the time jump and the trauma it put them through, the events of the first season, and showing the changes in the characters and their new relationships . . .

Instead we got a bunch of new characters, a random flame storyline that should just be over with already, the worms that went no where, underdeveloped relationships, I could go on. . .

But if The 100 committed to seeing a story through, they could have used season 5 as a character driven season to do them justice before closing “book one” and then leading on to a refreshed season 6. Instead, season 6 got all the baggage, and while it promised to have the characters (literally) face their demons, it once against fell victim to time jumps, too many characters, and too many storylines (and it’s such a shame, because season 6 had some wonderful, character focused episodes, that gave me just a taste of what I’ve been yearning for  . . . before snatching it away, and doing something stupid – and I still don’t get the point – of making Echo a Nightblood).

If you’ve stuck with me this far, then thanks.  I was so excited for season 5, and seeing Bellarke reunite and their new relationship dynamic, and how all the other characters changed . . . but ultimately it felt like the same show, with most of the relationships falling back in to their old – or at least, similar – dynamics, and the rest that didn’t  . . .  well, that was all the time jump. But we aren’t going to show you, our audience, how any of that makes sense  . . .

Leave your thoughts below on time jumps. I think they can be good, but often times they miss fulfilling their true potential.

(This is another post written incredibly late at night, while I’m half asleep. I will be very impressed with myself if I wake up in the morning and find this to be comprehensible. And yes, I know I could always wait to post this – but I am in the moment!!!! Got to get the rant out lol)

Posted in general posts, The 100 - TV discussion

Sacrificed for drama and the male agenda: underrated female characters on The 100 – Harper McIntyre edition.

Sacrificed for drama and the male agenda: underrated female characters on The 100. Harper McIntyre Edition.

by Gabby F. @nightxcourt on Twitter.

I would like to make it clear before delving in to the discussion, that this is not a criticism on Chelsey’s Reist’s acting or Harper, but rather the poor and problematic material giving to Reist. Additionally, this post is not an attack on the male characters of the series – particularly Jasper and Monty, who I love dearly – but, as stated above, the shoddy writing. I hope this is clear throughout the post.

HARPER

Harper McIntyre, played by the terrific Chelsey Reist, was a regular character on the CW’s The 100 for the first, second, third, fourth and fifth seasons. Harper was one of the 100 delinquents sent to Earth (102, if we’re counting Bellamy and Raven) to see if it was survivable.

From the beginning, Harper had the promise of being a formidable character. She was a young woman, sent down to Earth, fighting for her survival. Yet, as early as her first appearance in season 1, episode 10, ‘I Am Become Death’, she is there to prop up the male ego. In a scene with Jasper, she asks him:

“Jasper, tell us again, how did you stay so calm? I would have been terrified!” to which Jasper, seeing the opportunity, cockily replies, “Fear is only a problem if you let it stop you, right?”

Harper then later follows Jasper into his tent, flirting with him. Jasper denies her, because he’s high on his new level of notoriety, and Harper sulks off. Last week I ranted – sorry, calmly discussed – how Jason Rothenberg, the producer of the show, insists that the show never has been, or never will be, about ships. (No, I will not get over this anytime soon. Thanks for asking.) Then tell me, Jason, what was the point of introducing Harper?

Sure, Harper serves more purpose than this in the first season. She also works as a gunner, defending the Dropship. As do a ton of others, unnamed women. My issue with how they’ve written Harper – throughout the series, not just in season 1 – is that it is inconsistent. Harper being a survivor, a fighter, and a loving girlfriend? Sure. I stan. But The 100 fails to write her as all three, all the time.

Moreover, if the show is about survival and not about ships, why introduce Harper in the backend of season 1 to immediately act as a love interest to Jasper, and later, Monty?

Let’s not mention how later on, as Harper is guarding the Dropship from the grounder attacks, she runs out of bullets. She tells this to Jasper, who has the epiphany that this has to be a trap. Once again, Harper has been used to push the male character in to the spotlight. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jasper, and yes, Harper was a side-character, but moments like this from the first series built the foundation that the rest of Harper’s character was built on.

Later on in season 2, Harper started to become more of her own character, voicing her opinions. She tells Jasper no, when he asks her – and the rest of the 47 – to participate in the treatments. Seeing Harper take a step from that girl in season one who fawned over Jasper, to taking a firm stance was wonderful. And later, she takes her place among Miller, Monty and Jasper conspiring and planning for their freedom. She later assists Monty on disabling the door to the presidents office, although I do note that Jasper a) only congratulates Monty (yes, he did most of the disabling – but really) and then puts her on lookout duty because he’s the ‘mastermind’, Miller ‘the thief’ and Monty is ‘good with computers.’

Throughout the rest of season two, Harper is subjected to the treatments – torture – and is placed in a cell next to Monty’s. When Monty is captured and begins asking her what happened, she tells him that they built ’47 [cages] . . .  one for each of us.’

It is then, during one of Harper’s treatment sessions that the camera pans to Monty, as he begs for the doctor to stop. The president then comes in, demanding the doctor ‘step away from that girl.’

And for me, this is where it becomes complicated. Like okay, this is Harper’s storyline – it is about her trying to survive in Mount Weather against the brutality of the Mountain Men, and this season does begin to flesh out her relationships with the rest of the 47 and Harper’s personality. And yes, she is a side character, so not much screen time is devoted to her because ultimately, this is not her story.

Right?

But then, on the other hand, how is it the show manages to write her so inconsistently within a short space of time? This is not me attacking female characters being in relationships, or lusting after boys – not at all. It is me being irritated, and upset, that the only thing the writers could do consistently was use Harper for the sake of drama. The consequence of this is that to me, she never felt multifaceted, or realistic, but simply . . .  just there.

After this, the moment which the President storms in to stop the treatment and Monty was begging for it to stop, things change. Monty and Harper become more romantic. So it seemed that the writers decided to switch Harper from being Jaspers follower, to Monty’s.

And that sounds insulting to say. Because in many ways, Harper stands on her own as a character. But mostly, she’s there for Monty’s sake.

Again, this is where the conversation on side and recurring characters comes in. Monty is one of the main characters, so he has more of his own plot and storyline, which Harper is a part of. However, is this really an excuse for letting Harper seem like her only point on the show is to serve Monty, the male? Is this what we want to see represented on our tv screens? And while I will not be discussing it explicitly in this post (maybe a later one), part the issue with the storytelling of The 100 as a whole and Harper’s characterisation, is the fact that The 100 has too many characters, too many storylines, and too little time which results in so many elements being written poorly.

(Also don’t you just love it when shows always have gratuitous violence against women.)

(I also particulary love the moment when Miller, whose had just as much experience as Harper with guns, tells her to be careful when shooting it. I don’t think she’s that dumb, Miller.)

To avoid being here forever, I won’t deep dive in to every scene of every season that Harper is in. What is notable for me from season three, is that Harper becomes one of the guards for Arkadia, along with characters such as Bellamy and Lincoln. I loved this. I was afraid, after the events of season one and two, that they were going to side-line Harper to nothing more than Monty’s girlfriend who occasionally appears to give him reassurance (season 5, I’m coming for you).

Harper showed more of her rebellious side in season three, actively taking sides in the internal conflict between SkyKru, choosing to side against Kane and Bellamy (and Monty), and instead with Kane. She voices that they should ‘shock-lash Pike’s fascist ass’, serving her own interests in her community. Finally. (I love that she plays a part in the surveillance and scheming, like yes girl.)

What I also appreciate is that season 3 explores multiple sides of Harper’s personality. I think, out of all seasons, it is the best written for her character. She’s a rebel – standing up for what she believes in. She has her own plotline aside from her romance, voicing her own political opinions. We see Harper be caring, as she is supportive of all her friends, as a confidante. And eventually, her relationship with Monty comes to fruition.

Harper remains strong in season four, once again, siding against Monty. He wants so save the machine from the Ice Nation, whereas Harper favours saving the slaves. To me, this was an indicator that the show was moving in the right direction regarding Harper’s characterisation: just because she was in a relationship with Monty now, does not mean she has to sacrifice her own belief.

However, while in this instance she was not sacrificed to the male agenda, was she to the dramatic plot line? Once again, I echo back to my sentiments last week and the show not being about ships (specifically, romance). Yet, the show seems to constantly be focusing mostly on Harper’s (and other side characters, ahem, Raven, ahem, Emori) love life for her main plot line. Which, cool. But how come the male characters, side characters or not, are allowed more than one plot point at a time? And why are their sole plot lines never about romance?

I think season 4, while still criminally underrating Harper, continued with her legacy of a headstrong, yet loving, caring friend and person. I feel like, as the continuation from season three, she finally began to feel like her own character.

I feel like the poor handling to the end of her season four arc, with wanting to die in Praimfaya, should be in another post. It is not that I want to avoid the conversation, but The 100 mishandles mental illness in so many ways and I feel like a whole post should be dedicated to discussing the harmful representation and impact that has on audiences as it simply can’t be summed up within a few paragraphs.

Harper does change her mind and decides to go with Monty, instead of staying behind at Arkadia and waiting out the death wave. Again, this is a whole other conversation to explore, but ultimately instead of choosing to die Harper’s love for Monty encourages her to live.

While Harper has never had much screen time, even as her position as a side-character, she has been on the show consistently for four years. Yet, in season five, her screen time is minimal. And the time she did have? It made me question what was the point of her character. And look, I really liked Harper, but throughout each and every episode I began to question her purpose. She did not add anything that one of the many other characters (also with lacking plot-lines) could have added. While I think Harper being caring and loving is a great and admirable trait in anyone which shouldn’t be diminished, they ultimately made her extremely passive, to, once again, feed the male agenda. This time? So that at the end of the season, she could become the perfect little wife-y Eve to Monty’s Adam.

Honestly, pretty much every episode I cheered when Harper had a line. It felt like an amazing achievement. Once again, too many characters . . . not enough time. Maybe I should rename this article the ‘characters that were sacrificed to poor plot structure’??

Harper states to Monty in season five that:

“Everyone dies Monty, let’s show them how to live.”

And Monty echoes this statement in his final scenes, telling Bellamy and Clarke, and the rest of the survivors to,

“Do better.”

And guess what? Bellamy, Clarke, the rest of SpaceKru take this on board. They talk about Monty and how he wanted them to do better. Never Harper. Never Harper who also survived the grounders, the moutain men, lived with them in space for nearly seven years, who dedicated her life to Monty and seeing that their friends – people she classed as family – found a place to call home. Heck, most of the characters never even mention her. Maybe she was a side-character to us, but in show canon, and from what the writers like to tell us, this people had a close bond.

So where is that evident?

It’s not. Harper lived and her legacy died with Monty. While Monty’s lived on. And that’s an injustice.

Harper McIntyre deserved better.

So, in conclusion:

The show isn’t about ships, unless you’re Harper. And then really, your only use is to serve a romantic plot line or to prop up your male counterparts. Additionally, because the show has too many characters, too many plots, and too little time, what little screen time Harper had was minimal and did nothing to develop her backstory/character as much as it could’ve, if the show only decided to spend time on already established characters etc.

Harper’s characterisation is often centred solely around the male agenda and scarifying her for the drama, mostly because the show has too many characters and too little time.

Harper McIntyre and Chelsey Reist deserved better. (I mean, really Jason?? You couldn’t even tell her she was being killed off of the show to her face?)

That concludes todays blog post. Harper McIntyre, you were criminally underrated. You deserved your own storyline as much as the rest.

(Once again, I am posting this at 3.30 in the morning. This is unedited. I’ll probably disagree with myself tomorrow. But yes. I love Harper and thought she could’ve been such an amazing  complex female character but ultimately the writers did not care about her).

 

Posted in general posts, The 100 - TV discussion

The 100 isn’t about ships: except it is, and that’s okay.

Once again, the CW’s The 100 aired it’s final episode of the latest season [six] and I have feelings. With post-show interviews, twitter drama, there’s a lot to unpack from what we’ve seen on the screen, and what we’ve heard off of it.

You see, one of the core relationship of the show is that between Bellamy Blake and Clarke Griffin. Whether you ship them romantically, or as friends, they are the main characters, and this is their story. It’s undeniable. That is not a matter up for interpretation.

So what is the issue, exactly?

It stems from many places, the obvious one being: ship wars. Secondly, the cast and showrunners of The 100. You see, they have stated multiple times in interviews, on social media that the ‘show isn’t about ships’. A mantra repeated between warring fandoms. Not everything is about ships, apparently.

Except, and I hate to break it to you, but it is.

We often take ‘shipping’ to mean romantically shipping two people together. To many, the idea of shipping and fangirls often falls in to a derogatory prejudice of young women being romantic fools. I’ve seen it many times on Twitter, where ‘fangirls’ have been accused of only being a fan of a show because they find the main character hot, or for their romance, and that they miss the deeper meaning of the show and fail to understand the larger story. And . . . that makes me mad.

I do not understand the logic. And frankly, I find it patronising – it stems from a sexist, outdated mindset. Most shows work on a high stake premise. Be it a comedy, SCI-FI, fantasy, crime – eventually the show will work to a point of climax, a life or death, will-they-won’t-they, needs to make-a-life-changing-decision moment. But why would anyone care about these moments, if they don’t care about the characters? For example, without the development of Bellamy and Clarke – why would I continue watching? No matter how good your plot is, if I don’t care about the characters taking the journey through it – what’s the point? Romantic, friendship, family relationships – they’re all important elements of the story, that make the plot work.

The 100 seems to struggle with this idea. The writers often sacrifice time to develop relationships, which would benefit the story in the long run, in sake of the plot. This is poor writing, which often leads the writers and showrunners taking to Twitter to explain to fans how they’ve misunderstood a scene. This is usually followed by the usual ‘the show isn’t about ships’.

And that is just  . . .  wrong. Look, if the material you have produced is being perceived one way by a large quantity of people, but that’s not what you intended for it to mean, then chances are you’re a) trying to mislead purposely or b) have poor writing skills.

Secondly, when you are continuously sacrificing screen time on the characters it impacts the story you are trying to tell. How am I meant to feel emotionally about the death of Abby and Kane this season when you’ve provided them with no new material? Their characters have been stuck in the same mindsets – often switching roles – from season 2. One wants peace and won’t kill, the other is all about doing what they have to do to survive and will make up for it later, and then they’ll switch. Why should I care about Abby losing Kane when they spent the majority of season 5 apart – and were better for it? An issue I had in season 5, was that they relied to much on the past 4 seasons of material to provide the emotional weight for season 5. They expected the audience to care about the new relationship dynamics based on what they saw in the first 4 seasons (and for most of these relationships, they were barely developed in the first place) rather than spend time letting the audience get to know, to readjust, to these characters that have now had 6 years of life experiences that we haven’t seen.

Yet, despite trying to push the plot forward and insisting that things are too intense to explore the impact of past actions and new feelings, the writers dedicate time to random side plots, and new relationships.

For example, the relationship between Jordan and Delilah in season 6. Jordan and Delilah had the promise of being an interesting dynamic to explore. I was immediately wary, however, that the show was already trying to bite off more than it could chew. Surely Jordan getting to know the people who had been his parents family, the heroes in his childhood stories, would be enough? To let Jordan figure out his place within this group – he’s lost his parents, but he has them. But no…we had a few scenes of this – before Jordan is whisked away in to a whirlwind romance with Delilah, falling in love with her after a day – and this drives his storyline in season 6.

Well. . . it does, but it doesn’t. Jordan gets to go around with SpaceKru for a while, calling out Bellamy for his blatant love for Clarke, taking a few moments to reminisce about his parents, before he’s written off for the rest of the season until the finale. When he returns in the final episode, he’s brainwashed: his beliefs are different from the beginning of the season, and he’s mad at Bellamy and the rest of them for failing to do better, for destroying Sanctum and his chance at having Delilah back.

So please, tell me – if the show isn’t about ships, that being romantic why introduce Jordan solely to push him in to a poorly developed romantic side-plot that had no impact on this season. I imagine this will feed in to his season 7 plotline and unravel more about Sanctum (the info-dumping and confusing, conflicting, storylines is a whole other blog post). But yes. Why spend time on this romantic relationship?

So for a show that claims to not be about relationships, it likes to push their side characters in to them. (Another example, Raven. Or how Becho is completely undeveloped, adds nothing to the story that the other relationships don’t or can’t, yet the writers stick with it.)

That is the issue. The writing on The 100 constantly contradicts itself. And that is why The 100 consistently fails to live up to it’s potential. Because it’s okay for the show to be about ships. It is about ships. As stated at the beginning, the core relationship that drives the whole show is about Bellamy and Clarke. Season-to-season, it’s about them either finding their way back to each other, or working together. It’s a show about chosen family. It is about ships. Their dynamic as they try to survive together, be it on a radioactive Earth, or on a Moon in deepspace. And that’s okay. It’s okay to take time and focus on your characters. Let them deal with their trauma, let them deal with the hurt between them (I really need a Raven and Clarke heart-to-heart with actual development, and Bellamy and Clarke to talk about all their shared trauma more). Let your characters BE, for just one moment, before pushing them in to another plot line. Flesh them out. Make us care again. Get us invested in them, as people, and with their relationships.

Stop being afraid of romance. Stop being afraid of characters talking. If you did, the plot would be better for it. Having characters miraculously recover, or having characters make life-changing decisions based on a relationship we’ve seen nothing of, doesn’t make sense, even in a show that’s asking us to suspend our disbelief.

Shipping is okay. The characters and their relationships are what make the show. Dear The 100, please stop contradicting yourself. Spend time on the relationships you do have. Stop belittling fans for seeing something there. Stop telling us the show is all about plot and survival when you pointlessly pair off characters like Raven every season. Your show is about ships. We are allowed to watch for them. It’s okay.

(This blog post was brought to you by a very sleepy Gabby at half one in the morning. This is an emotional rant. Please excuse me.)

 

Posted in book reviews

Light Years – Kass Morgan

Light Years is the first book in a thrilling new sci-fi series from the bestselling author of The 100.
Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…

OOOO I really liked this.

At first, I thought the multiple POV’s would get annoying and too much for me, but I enjoyed each and every one of them. I think they were all nicely paced, but my favourites probably have to be Cormack/Arran. Followed then by Orelia and Vesper. I liked the cast of all the characters – the mix of different planets and social classes they came from made it very interesting to see them interact, connect, and grow with each other.

The world building was pretty decent in this too. Usually I find in Sci-Fi’s that they info-dump and I find it hard to keep track, but this one was fairly easy to understand. I might not remember all the names of the planets etc . . . or if Earth was ever a thing in this one . . . but I appreciated that it wasn’t that complicated. People settled on different planets: the rich rip off and use the poor. There’s discrimination between the social classes, etc, etc.

I loved the whole crew dynamic with their banter and encouragement with each other, but also the conflict and the weariness. It was just really nice to read and watch them develop.

OH MY GOD THE ENDING!! I was for sure the ending was going to go a certain way and I was like 85% right. But I am H Y P E D. I’d very much appreciate having a book two to read right about now.

So yes, I did really enjoy this one. I read it all in one day because I liked the characters, the plot, and the writing. It was just very quick and easy to flick through – before I knew it I was 63% in and it felt like I’d only just started reading. I appreciated that. I can imagine that if I wasn’t in the mood for something like this then I might find it a bit more slower-paced, not a lot happening in plot wise for a while, but eh.

I just found it enjoyable.

CW, particularly Jason Rothenberg, keep your hands off this. I will not allow you to screw up another one of my ships.

I am expecting a lot from book two!!

3 (or maybe 4) stars!