The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
Harper Teen, 336 pages
Expected US Release Date: April 23, 2013
Format: Print ARC
Source: Around the World ARC Tours - thank you!
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.
"But," she continued to Gavril, "if there's one thing I've learned from being in The Selection, it's that some girls have a frightening killer instinct. Don't let the ball gowns fool you," she finished with a smile.
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If I thought I was frustrated after reading The Selection (for which you can read that entertainment here), the frustration after reading The Elite laughs in my face. It scoffs, even. I was so young, so naïve.
Basically, I found The Elite to be every bit as terribly riveting as The Selection, only a little bit more so since I carried over all my feelings already. There’s so much I can’t stand about Aspen and America, and none of it went away. It grew, even. And there were things added, and I just can’t even talk about it without getting worked up how idiotic I think they are and are being.
Maxon is the only one who saves me from DNF-ing the shit out of this book, and even that had its moments of weakness. He didn’t really grow to me in the novel, but it’s something I overlook since I love him so much anyway. Even though I don’t really agree with some of the things he did in this book, I get it, and I found it interesting enough where I still want to know what’s going to happen in Book 3.
Something I was very happy with in The Elite was how surprising it was to me in terms of plot and action. Nothing completely from left field comes through knocking you off your feet, but it doesn’t quite follow the line you thought it might. I knew generally what would have to happen, but it’s the how and the who that was unexpected and made the story all the better.
I enjoy how we get a little more of a look into the world they live in, and all the civic lessons going on as the girls are made to learn policy and politics, but I still wish there were a little more in terms of the rebels and their environment. Book 1 was definitely lacking in real Dystopian elements, and I have to say the same for Book 2. It tried, and it gets a little better, but it’s just not there. I sincerely hope Book 3, when everything comes to the culmination, finally goes there.
I know that having already stated how much I can’t stand Aspen will probably discredit what I’m about to say, but I had major issues with all his parts because I felt like the author was trying to manipulate me into liking him finally. She was selling him way too hard and explaining how brilliant/sweet/amazing he is, and I hated it. It came down to my usual “show not tell” complaint, in that she needed to make his actions speak louder, rather than a small thing and extend it into something America explained into how it made him a perfect boy. Would it have sold me on Aspen? No, but I would have at least been a lot less annoyed.
I’m going to end this on a happy note: continually the best parts to this series? America’s maids. I love them. And I know they’re one single function, but they do it fantastically and I really like the relationship between themselves as well as with America. There’s one scene with America’s sister May and one of the maids that just made my heart happy, and even though it was a miniscule, vaguely-unimportant one, that’s what stuck with me most.
If you hated The Selection, I don’t think The Elite will change your mind. It’s every bit as frustrating and lacking as the first one. But in the same vain, it has the same drama and intrigue and bad-reality-tv vibe that just makes you care and need to know. No matter how much I gripe and whine about Aspen and America and all the decisions they make, I can’t deny that I fly through the pages and am absolutely DYING for book 3 now. And maybe that doesn’t make it the next great literature legacy, but it does make it something.