Title: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: April 2013, HarperTeen
Main Characters: America, Maxon, Aspen
Synopsis: America has earned Maxon’s affections, and he’s kept her around. Thirty-five girls have dwindled to six, and when this happens, the group becomes known as the Elite. Now, things are really starting to get difficult. The girls are being taught etiquette and history, and they’re given projects to entertain visiting dignitaries (and not offend them), which are duties the current Queen is entrusted with and which the future Queen will one day do as well. Each task is a competition, of course, and if they mess up, they could be sent home. They’re all so close. Who is Maxon going to marry? America looks around the circle of faces and realizes she has no idea…
- Lucy’s smile was sad. “It’s the most wonderful and terrible thing that can ever happen to you,” she said simply. “You know that you’ve found something amazing, and you want to hold on to it forever; and every second after you have it, you fear the moment you might lose it.” I sighed softly. She was absolutely right. Love is beautiful fear.
Review: SPOILERS AHOY!
Right from the get-go, this sequel did not hold my attention like its predecessor. Actually, sometimes it was downright off-putting. I was cheesed off really early on when Maxon takes America upstairs to the secret library. (Beauty and the Beast, anyone?) It’s full of forbidden literature and history, of course. No one in the country has history books. It’s all oral. (How else can you keep people from rebelling? If they knew the truth…)
America spends the entire book flip-flopping between Maxon and Aspen. Maxon will piss her off and she’ll run straight into Aspen’s arms (but secretly, of course. If anyone knew she was kissing another man, she’d be worse than kicked out of the Selection– she’d be made an Eight). Then she’ll realize that Maxon really isn’t that bad of a guy and Aspen will get put on the backburner again. Who can compare to the shining light of a Prince? Certainly not a lowly guard, even if he is a Two now instead of a Six.
America’s entire personality has changed from the first book. Where she was fierce and unapologetic, she’s now weepy and unsure. She’s constantly dismissing herself and her abilities. Oh, I don’t know if I’d make a good queen. All of these other girls would be better. (Girl has got to realize that the best place to enact change is from the Queen’s throne, right?)
All in all, this book reminded me entirely too much of the Twilight/50 Shades books, as in: unworthy girl holds attention of two wonderful, handsome men. Doesn’t know what to do. Cries a lot. Oh, you poor, poor girl. What a terrible dilemma. La tee da.
It did have its moments, though. Their Halloween celebration was a fun read, even though in the back of my head I was like, “They told the whole country to celebrate this simultaneously, right? Yes, because Halloween is what they should be spending their money and time on right now.” It just seemed a bit extravagant, you know? (And by “a bit” I really mean “a lot.”) The book went from “dystopian love story” to “fluff and oops yeah there are rebels.”
Maxon’s big reveal at the end didn’t add anything to the story, either. Granted, abuse is a terrible thing and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, and he should get himself out of that situation as quickly as possible, but as a plot device, I think it’s contrived at best. How about, instead of a scary, abusive, tyrant king, we have a tyrant king that is a tyrant in secret? You can still do terrible things to a country without being terrible to your family. I suppose if you’re a villain, you have to be a bad person all the way through. I feel like there was a lot of potential for layering here that went completely unused.
The middle sections of trilogies always tend to be bad, and it’s a trend I don’t understand. These books were released within a month of each other, though; perhaps that had something to do with it? Maybe Ms. Cass was rushed by her agent/publisher to throw out another book as soon as possible to hold interest. At any rate, I’m a bit peeved at myself for blasting through these two books in one day without realizing the third one won’t be out until May. Drat! I look forward to finishing the tale, at any rate.
Mod Note: I did also read the “in-between” accompanying novella that Ms. Cass wrote from Maxon’s perspective, entitled The Prince. It was short and sweet; worth reading, but not worth doing a review on.