“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.”
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.
Once in a while I encountered books that I immensely enjoy reading but still end up unsatisfied with them. That even without so much expectations I still feel let down by the book I’m supposed to love. Kiera Cass’ The Selection series falls into this category for me. When I first read the first book, The Selection, I am intrigued with the world and government setup of Illea, and I did like the premise of doing a selection to find the next lady ruler. I also like the characters in-spite having issues with them. But after reading and when I was trying to put my thoughts about the first book, I realized that there are more things I didn’t like than things I did like, which is why I didn’t dare to finished the review I am supposed to post for The Selection.
With continued intrigue and hope that the second installment will hold more information I longed to know, about the world and the characters, I did wait for The Elite. Now that I just recently finished reading the book, I feel the same contradicting feelings I have just like in the first book. While I enjoy the story so much, I still feel that it is not enough. Somehow I want to blame the first person narration of America, who I think didn’t give much information than necessary, but also I feel the lack of development to the other sides of the story that supposed to be more intriguing and worth knowing, such as the rebellion, the monarchy operations, and the Caste system.
The story focused so much on America deciding between Maxon and Aspen, and between wanting the crown with its corresponding responsibilities or not. It’s all about her romantic life. Not that it is not nice to read, but I just really want to know more than that. I want to see the world inside and out the palace, I want to know more about the political set-up, and social status of the dystopian world of this series. Even it is just about Illea and not the other surrounding countries, or even it is just a slice of regular life of this dystopian world. I want to see more than the selection program of the palace.
Somehow I expect Amarica to at least have interest in knowing more about Maxon’s life, how he rules and what he is doing as a prince of their country. I expect her to spend her time learning the life inside the palace, using the opportunity to see how the rulers of her country live as the royal family and do their jobs as the rulers, which I think are better than spending her time sneaking with Aspen or thinking with whom Maxon is spending his time if she is not with her.
The story focus too much on the love story, which I think could be lessened and give more path in building and developing the dystopian world instead. America’s indecisiveness and contradicting feelings for Maxon and Aspen is overly scattered in the book. Though I understand her indecisiveness, it is also frustrating for me to read it over and over again. She is easily switching decisions about her feelings for the two boys depending who she is with at the moment. She can’t even stand to her own words, one moment she is so sure with Maxon then easily flip the next.
“It wasn’t like I made his world better. It was like I was his world. It wasn’t some explosion; it wasn’t fireworks. It was a fire, burning slowly from the inside out.”
Though there are few moments when America shows some real strength when she stand and fight for what she believe in, not all of it are done smartly. When she tried to save her friend Marlee I admire her, but what she did during her presentation in front of the royal family and with the whole nation watching is not plausible in my opinion. Even her intention is good and it looks so brave thing for her to do so, I still expect her to be at least more prepared. It is like she did it for the sake of showing off, and not really because she cares for her country. She didn’t think about it carefully, she is not prepared at all, which in return almost cost her Elite status. If not for Maxon sacrifices, her selection journey will surely reached its end. America should start thinking the big picture in all these, because winning the selection is not just about the crown or Maxon, a lot is at stake. It is a chance to do something good for Illea, a chance to make changes.
“Perhaps our country is flawed, but we cannot deny its strength. My fear is that, without change, that strength will become stagnate. And I love our country too much to let that happen. I hope too much to let that happen.”
Maxon in majority of the book is so good that I can’t almost understand why is America still can’t choose between Maxon and Aspen. Clearly Maxon is the best choice, he love her and will do anything for her. But near the end, Kiera Cass surprised me by revealing Maxon’s weakness. An unexpected twist of character for Maxon that it feels too contrived and almost out of character already. I still can’t believe Kiera Cass will throw something like that. I understand that Maxon needs to be not perfect, but I just feel that there is something odd with the execution. Maxon can’t really fully justified his actions, but in spite of that I am still rooting for him. It’s hard for me not to like him despite of everything, the pressure of the selection and his job as a prince is just too much and he hasn’t even have a clue what America really felt about him. There is a decision he needs to make and he can’t just really sit there and wait for America while everyone is expecting him to act. He needs to play the game even it is not by the rule.
I also found it unfair that Maxon have no idea that Aspen, his competition with America is inside the palace making his moves to win back America. Maxon only knows that there is someone else before for America, that’s why she can’t decide yet, asking for more time. But Maxon doesn’t know that America is seeing Aspen too, while Aspen on the other side knows about Maxon of course. Maxon is not perfect, he did some serious mistake, but in-spite of that I still believe that he is the best for America. Together they can rule Illea to be better and peaceful country. They can make changes and provide better and fair life for everyone.
“…there’s only you. Maybe I’m not really looking, maybe they aren’t right for me. It doesn’t matter. I just know I want you. And that terrifies me. I’ve been waiting for you to take back the words, to beg to leave.”
Aspen is much present in the story compare from the first book, The Selection. He is now wooing back America so most of their interactions are promises of love and reminders of their old relationship. He is a good guy but I just can’t see much chemistry between him and America. Their relationship seemed a bit forced to me, as if Aspen is just in the story for the convenience of having a love triangle. Something to spice up and complicate the story.
Overall, The Elite is an addicting and flowing read. Though there are some areas lacking of development, the story pretty much provide new information about the characters, from America, Maxon, the King and Queen, and up to the other participants of the selection. And with America who looks like finally realizing the worth of her choices at the end of this book, I think Kiera Cass still hold every readers of her series to continue reading the next and final installment, The One.