The Elite by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2
Published by HarperTeen
Publish Date: April 23, 2013
Source: ARC Tour
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending. -(from Goodreads)
I try to keep my thoughts
within the range of what is included in the summary.
My Thoughts: I loved The Selection so much that I read it and then re-read it again before starting this book.
Man, it’s good to be back in the palace again.
WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO ALL OF THE CHARACTERS??
Also, Aspen and Prince Maxon have some different behavior as well. They’re both tired of being pulled around by America, and they want her to make a decision on who she loves already. (I can TOTALLY understand where they’re coming from.) They both get pretty upset with her on a few occasions – they seem sometimes grumpy and sometimes angry, and occasionally they seem like their normal selves.
All three of these characters gave me a little bit of whiplash now and then.
I loved this book because it seemed a bit darker than The Selection. What I mean by that is that it was less fluff and puff/fancy dresses/interviews with the ladies than the previous book – it seemed there was more substance to the story. This book shows the ladies getting down to the business of showing why they would make a good choice for Prince Maxon, how they are able to handle potentially running a country, and what level they might possibly stoop to in order to reach their goals. Alongside the Selection story line is the threat of the rebels from the North and the rebels from the South – two groups with very specific goals in attacking the palace. The entire palace has to carry on their daily activities as normal even with the constant threat of attack, and they are attacked more than once. These scenes were wonderfully stressful and action-packed and just darker to me because we see that the people have something to say too, that they want to be heard, and that they are willing to resort to violence to get their message across.
Sidenote: I’m still having a hard time deciding if this book is a dystopian book. I keep seeing it classified as one, and then I’ll see arguments on why it isn’t really a dystopian. To be honest, I don’t particularly care if it is/isn’t, but for the record – I’m not exactly sure that it feels extremely dystopian to me. Rather, it feels like there is a governing body that isn’t in tune to the needs of its people, and as a result there is a Caste system that is unfair and a lot of people are suffering.
I mentioned that the characterization feels a little bit different/off in this book and I stand by that. I don’t really know what’s gotten into America – stress? the idea that she can use her 15 minutes of fame/camera time to make a political/social stand? Perhaps both, but this girl does some things that made my jaw drop. (I KNOW that this is because I’m Southern and even though this book is NOT a contemporary, I maintain that it feels somewhat Southern to me.) She has gotten herself into quite a predicament over the course of the story, and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out in the end of the series.
And Maxon and Aspen? These two poor guys are being strunggg alongggg. I don’t mind love triangles when I feel like there is a purpose to them – I understand that America has a huge decision to make and she needs to think things through very well before she makes her decision. These two men live completely different lives, and she can see the good parts in both futures. I think that this is part of what makes it hard for her to choose. It feels like when she is with Maxon, she really loves Maxon and wants to be with him BUT when she is with Aspen, she really loves and wants to be with him. I can also see this triangle becoming dangerously close to a not-so-great love triangle if things are not carefully wrapped up in the final installment. I want America to make her choice before too many people get hurt because in a triangle like this, someone always does.
As the book ends, I feel like America is at a wonky place with both Prince Maxon and Aspen. I feel like she has some big work to do to “fix” some things she messed up a bit while she was acting rashly. Basically, America needs to get it together and step up if she wants to end up winning the competition and Maxon’s hand, and also perhaps if she doesn’t.
Ultimately, I love the story so much. I realize that in mentioning that the characterization is a bit off and that the love triangle is getting dangerous, I make it sound like the book isn’t good, but I really did absolutely LOVE reading it. I love how the tone has shifted since The Selection and become a bit of a darker story (not very dark, just darker than the first book). After reading The Elite, I realize that there is much more to being the future Queen of Illea, and I think that at this point, America realizes that too. She has some big decisions to make, some wrongs to make right, and she needs to start acting differently. I can’t wait to see how this series plays out in the end.
I recommend The Elite and The Selection series for fans of fairy-tales and YA dystopian-ish stories with romance. The love interests (both of them) are still swoon-worthy even though they are becoming tired of waiting around for their lady. The competition is fiercer than ever and there is so much to lose by not making it to the end of the competition!