Wednesday, October 9, 2013

REVIEW: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite (A Selection Novel #2)
Author: Kiera Cass Website Twitter Facebook
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Pages: 336
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

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.

First Thoughts: A great second book that left me yearning for the conclusion (come on 2014!).  A fast-paced read with romance and A LOT of action, much more than in book one, that gives us a deeper look into the workings of Ilea’s society and the characters.

I’m not sure that I liked this book more than The Selection (I think I had higher hopes going in), but I definitely cruised right through - a one summer day kind of book. My favorite part of this second book, is that we get more of the backstory. The first book was definitely all about America - her background, her feelings, her actions. The Elite gives us more of the overall picture. We learn about Ilea and how it came to be. We learn about the King (big jerk) and Queen (love her and wish she wasn’t married to the big jerk). We learn about the caste system and how absolutely ridiculous it is (as if we didn’t already know). I feel like The Elite is a bridge book, as most second books in trilogies are. It set us up for A LOT of action and drama to come in The One (America better choose Maxon!).

Even though I enjoyed this book (4 stars) I had two main issues with it: America and the battle between dystopian and romance.

There is so much to like about America - she’s strong, independent (sometimes) and really seems to question all that goes on around her. She isn’t manipulative like the other girls or passive in any sense. So it took me a little while to figure out why she was starting to wear on my nerves by the end of the book, and here it is - double standards. Any time Maxon did anything without full disclosure or her approval, it constituted a huge blow-up. She questioned whether or not she could trust Maxon, she questioned his intentions, and yet, not once did she think about the fact that she was doing the same thing. Actually, she is worse because Maxon has ABSOLUTELY no idea what’s going on behind his back!

America’s double standards kind of lead into the second thing that bothered me; I felt like the book couldn’t decide if it wanted to go full-fledge dystopian or just be a romance. There was a lot of imbalance. I’m not saying a book can’t do both - look at Katniss, Peeta, and Gale in The Hunger Games - but there needs to be a balance. I feel like The Elite is a romance trying to be dystopian to appeal to dystopian-obsessed readers like me. I wish it had more of the dystopian in it. I liked the political pieces and the rebellious attacks. I wanted more of that (again, my obsession). I also felt like when the story got political, readers learned more about the characters. We saw a different side to Maxon, and even more so, the King and Queen (she’s by-far my favorite character). I’m hoping this second book will lead into the third where the rebellion and injustices done by the King will be a focal point. And, seriously America, just choose Maxon already!

Final Thoughts: Although this book had a few issues - get your act together America - I couldn’t seem to stop reading. I loved reading about Ilea’s backstory, and therefore the reason for the rebellion; I loved getting more of the minor characters’ stories, especially the queen. And, I loved Maxon even more than I did in book one. Bring on The One.

Who Should Read It? If you are looking for a dystopian, love-triangle romance, which seems to be the popular trend at the moment, then check this series out. I think the ladies will really like this series because it definitely centers around the love triangle. Even though there’s more action in this second book, the romance is still the focus. If you haven’t checked this series out yet, I highly recommend it!

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