Book Review: The Elite

review-cover-theelite

Title: The Elite [The Selection 2]

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

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.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Emotional rollercoaster—that’s what this was for me. I loved the first book in this series, and so when I picked up the second book in the series, I was ready to dive in feet first, no shoes, not even a toe to check the temperature of the water… and I hit concrete. I expected the second book in the series to further the steadily-growing-hotter relationship between America and Maxon, but instead, I found her world, and mine, flipped upside down.  This is one of those books you’re either going to hate with a passion, or love equally as much.

As far as the technical side of things goes: The formatting, grammar, punctuation, and spelling were flawless. From the first 10 seconds into the book I was hooked and I never felt jarred out of the narrative. No, I dare say that I was so enraptured with the story that when the characters starting misbehaving, I had a look akin to horror on my face. I both loved and hated all of the characters this time around. America was idealistic, strong-willed, and very, very confused. She made a lot of really bad mistakes this time around, and I visibly cringed. It wasn’t that she acted air-headed like most teen female leads. She made choices that, at the time, seemed logical to me. I was routing for her every decision and cheering her on as the story went, and so when her choices backfired (as they inevitably had to) I was devastated every bit as much as she was. I didn’t realize how bad her situation could get until she was in it, and by that time it was too late. Brilliant writing on the author’s part.

As for Aspen… I hated him every bit as much as I did in the first book. I’m sorry, but there’s something so…. pushy about his relationship with America that it really sets my nerves on edge. He made the decision to dump her in the first book, and then here he comes, forcing himself into her presence every chance he gets… making her doubt herself and attempting to wheedle his way into her good graces again. It made me want to scream at him to back off and leave the poor girl alone. I understand that she loved him once, and he loved her, but at some point he crossed the line from genuinely loving her into this situation where it felt like he wanted to possess her. I’m not sure that was the intention, but that’s how it came across.

However, that doesn’t mean Maxon’s in the clear. I loved Maxon in the first book. He was a bit timid and naïve, but he genuinely loved America. I had no doubt about it. In this book, the author threw me for a loop. Suddenly it wasn’t so clear what Maxon wanted or who’s side he was on. He did a lot of things that made me want to slap him (just as America wanted to do). At times he seemed cruel, heartless… like he’d given up on America, and it set my blood to boil. Other times he was just as sweet as he’d seemed in the first book, and like America, I couldn’t decide where he stood. It was frustrating and exhausting to try and figure out what was going on with the boy.

So where does that leave me? I didn’t enjoy the book. I know that isn’t what you probably expected me to say. There was so much politics, sneaking around, secrets, and backstabbing in this book that it genuinely stressed me out. I don’t feel good about where Maxon and America stand in the end, and I’m sincerely irritated with most of the characters. So why did I give it five stars? Because it was a good book. I may not have liked how the characters chose to act, or how they treated each other (and believe me, America is NOT in the clear for her sneaking around with Aspen behind Maxon’s back. I could kick her), but I can sit back, take in the big picture and say that the book was well written. For a few short hours I lived in the world of America Singer. I felt her frustration, her confusion, and her giddiness. The author sucked me into the story so deeply that I felt what America felt—and that is no easy thing to do.

Am I happy with how the story turned out? No. I’m livid. I want to slap every one of the characters and scream—but I am infinitely glad that I read the book. It’s not every day you have an experience with a book that makes you forget the real world. I’m excited to move on to the third book in the series. I hope it all works out in the end, but even if it doesn’t, I know I’m in for a wild ride. If you enjoy YA fiction, I sincerely urge you to pick up this series.

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