The Elite is written by Kiera Cass. It was published in 2013 by HarperTeen. It is the second book in the Selection trilogy, the first of which I reviewed here. Cass’s website can be found here.
“The Selection began with 35 girls. Now, with the group narrowed down to the Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s love is fiercer than ever. The closer America gets to the crown, the more she struggles to figure out where her heart truly lies. Each moment she spends with Maxon is like a fairy tale, filled with breathless, glittering romance. But whenever she sees her first love, Aspen, standing guard, she’s swept up in longing for the life they’d planned to share.
America is desperate for more time. But while she’s torn between her two futures, the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.”
What I Liked:
Like the first book, the middle of this one had the same sort of strange attraction—it was hard for me to put it down once I hit Chapter 10 or so. Maybe it was because America kept flip-flopping between Maxon and Aspen and so was in tears nearly all the time because of it. I sort of liked America’s inability to stay dry-eyed for more than a chapter at a time. More seriously, I did like her determination at the end to prove people wrong and to show that she could be a good princess if she tried.
I was legitimately sad when Gregory’s diary turned out to reveal that he was an Evil Dude. The diary was the most interesting part of the whole book. I thought he actually made some good and interesting points, especially in the beginning before you find out that he really just wanted power.
Forget Maxon as my favorite character (although I am solidly “Team Maxon,” mainly because Aspen is way too boring and bland). Queen Amberly rocks.
What I Didn’t Like:
The beginning of this book is rough. I found myself wondering why in the world I was bothering to read this series, it was that bad.
Sigh. Why is the king always the main villain? It would have been much more interesting if the king was not a power-hungry tyrant as they always are. Now this series just got more boring.
Aspen still is way too boring of a character. And the love triangle and America’s flip-flopping just make her seem flighty/fickle.
The world that Cass is attempting to build still makes no sense, and the reveals are still too exposition-y and thus clunky. The diary was the best mechanic she’s used, proving that she can actually worldbuild half-way decently. So…why doesn’t she do that for the rest of the time?
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Violence, one extreme (for the series) sensual scene, domestic violence.
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
“He let me borrow one once, just to see.”
“Oh, that’s very interesting! What did you read? Can you tell me?”
I bit my lip. “It was one of Gregory Illéa’s personal diaries.”
Dad’s mouth dropped open before he composed himself. “America, that’s incredible. What did it say?”
“Oh, I haven’t finished. Mostly, it was to figure out what Halloween was.”
“We watch, of course. We see what happens here. The riots, the rebels. It seems people are not happy?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. “Your Majesty, I don’t know if I’m the best person to talk to about this. I don’t really control anything.”
Nicoletta took my hands. “But you could.”
A shiver ran through me. Was she saying what I thought?
“We saw what happened to the girl. The blonde?” she whispered.
“Marlee.” I nodded. “She was my best friend.”
She smiled. “And we saw you. There’s not much footage, but we saw you run. We saw you fight.”
The look in her eyes mirrored the way Queen Amberly had looked at me this morning. There was unmistakable pride there.
“We are very much interested in forming a bond with a powerful nation, if that nation can change. Unofficially, if there is anything we can do to help you acquire the crown, let us know. You have our full support.”
Mediocre writing, bad worldbuilding, clunky exposition and dialogue…but for some reason I still couldn’t put The Elite down once I hit the middle. Was it America’s constant crying and flip-flopping between Maxon and Aspen? Was it Gregory’s diary, which was probably the best part of the book? Who knows? All I know is that I’m looking forward to reading The One, although whether it’s to finally end this trudge or to see if Cass can pull something original and half-way decent into the last book remains to be seen.
You can buy this here: The Elite (The Selection)