Expected publication date: April 23, 2013
The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestsellerThe 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.
Guys, everyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with The Selection. So when I got this ARC, I immediately started reading and could not stop. I was like,
And then once I was finished, I was like,
because now I have to wait for Book #3!
There is a lot of romance, sweet words, and beautiful moments in this book, and I know a lot of readers will be really excited for this. If you weren’t Team Maxon or Aspen before, you might be surprised if your feelings change from one to the other. I personally didn’t find it hard to pick a team, but I think that’s because I didn’t love America in this book like I did in the Selection. She’s still sassy, but she’s not as sassy as she was before.
Part of the problem may have been the love triangle itself. Awhile back, I read a review on Forever Young Adult where the reviewer wrote, “…there is no love triangle. There is a person in the middle who likes attention.” I felt that way a little bit during this book. It wasn’t that the love triangle wasn’t there or was terribly written, but it was that a) I personally have already chosen who I think is the right guy, so that probably makes me biased, and b) America does spend a lot of time whining and being dramatic about which guy to choose. She does redeem herself a bit towards the end…I won’t say how, though, but let’s just say that the back third of the novel gets really good.
That said, I really liked how we start to understand the motivations of the characters. For instance, we know that Celeste is mostly there for the crown, but what about America? Not only is she incredibly conflicted between her childhood love, Aspen, and her new affection for Maxon, but she also has to learn to speak and act like a princess. This is a heavy burden that involves a lot more than just pretty dresses and good food. America and the rest of the Elite are charged with some pretty big tasks to prove that they’re worthy of Maxon.
We also go a bit deeper into the families of the Selection and the royal family as well. We learn a lot more about Prince Maxon in this book, and a lot more about how Illea was formed. For me, those were the most exciting parts of the book. We heard a little bit about Illea in the first book; here we get tons more about the history of the world, the rebels, and what they’re searching for.
For me, this background info started in The Prince, which is Kiera Cass’ short e-novella that came out last month. It details a bit of the time before the Selection, and what happened when Prince Maxon first met America – but from his point of view. I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to read The Prince before reading The Elite, but I definitely think it informed my opinion of Maxon’s actions, and how things proceeded throughout the novel.
What I found interesting about this novel is that I didn’t feel like there was a huge giant climax. There was a climax, and it was pretty awesome, but I was so gripped at every moment and the end of every chapter that it hoped it would be a beautiful adventure-romance that would never end.
At the beginning, I did feel that the writing was a bit elementary. Some of the things the characters said seemed so very simple. Cass is not one for big words or flowery description. But, like in The Selection, this stopped bothering me as the book went on. Cass’ talent is in drawing you into this world and not letting you go – you want to read every moment then get on to the next to find out what happen – and then at the end, you just want to go back and be captivated all over again.
It’s A Mystery: There is some seriously secretive stuff here that really makes you want to kind of shake America and say, “Forget the boys, focus on the ____!”
Hot Boys: That said, who doesn’t love hot boys? Especially shirtless, romantic hot boys. I’m not going to say who goes shirtless, but let’s just say that I might have read that scene again. And again. =P
Frocks: With covers like that, you can imagine that the frocks America and the rest of the Elite wear are pretty friggin awesome.
Idealism: I REALLY liked how much Maxon, America and Aspen want to change their flawed world. Kiera Cass slides youth idealism into her books effortlessly, and it’s kind of awesome and inspiring.
The Final Word:
Like its predecessor, The Elite is an unputdownable romance. It’s not quite as heart-squeezing as The Selection was, but the dystopian parts of Kiera Cass’ world are a lot more prominent, and I really liked how it wasn’t just the romance, pretty dresses, and makeovers that kept me turning the pages. All I want now is Book #3, and I will definitely be re-reading The Elite when I get my pre-ordered copy!