Book Review: The Heir

cover-the heirTitle: The Heir [The Selection 4]

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

What can I say other than I’m disappointed? I loved the first three books in the Selection series—in fact, I gave them all 5 and 4-star ratings… but the fourth book in the series, The Heir, didn’t live up to the hype. I was so excited when I learned that a fourth book had been written. I’d assumed after the first three that the Selection was over. Now, I kind of wish it had ended.

Eadlyn was hard to like. She was self-centered, arrogant, and childish. It was impossible to like her—and though I understand that she was in a difficult position, I found it hard to empathize with the spoiled princess. Honestly, I’m a little mystified how America and Maxon’s daughter could turn out to be such a brat.

My inability to empathize with Eadlyn wasn’t the only problem, however. The plot was basically a rehashing of the entire three books before it. I don’t know that I needed to see the selection again enough to warrant a re-start. It felt like the whole process was already hashed out with the first three books, and suddenly we’re back at it again. I enjoyed it the first time around, but this time, it felt a little tired. I was over it. Sure, I appreciate the role reversal of the main character being a princess rather than a prince or a contestant, but I honestly think the contestant’s point of view is more interesting in this case.

Pouring yet another round of salt onto the wound, the romance and intrigue of The Heir was a bit too fluffy for my tastes. By the end of the book, there is no clear love interest for Eadlyn. Sure, there are a few boys she likes, but none that jump out as being possibly “the one”. The romantic tension I was expecting just wasn’t there. I almost feel as if nothing was accomplished. The romances were never really developed, the threat to the monarchy was vague at best and only a distant threat. Other than gaining a few friends, Eadlyn didn’t change much throughout the book, and nothing happened. When the end of the book rolled around I was genuinely surprised. It felt unfinished.

That isn’t to say it was all bad though. I did like quite a few of the male characters in the book. There’s a special spot in my heart for Erik, Henri, Kile, and a few other of the boys. Most of them were better written than Eadlyn, and I wish they had gotten more “screen time” so to speak. It was also nice to see America in her role as mother—her character seemed more put together and well rounded in this installment to the story, and she came across as a strong figure.

The writing itself was well done. I didn’t notice any awkward sentence structures, punctuation or spelling mistakes. Despite my dislike of the main character, the narrative was easy to follow and engaging.

Overall, the book was okay. I’m glad that I got another chance to peek inside the world of the selection, but I wasn’t blown away. The book just didn’t deliver what I was expecting, and I can’t say that I’d recommend it.

Book Review: The One

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Title: The One [The Selection 3]

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adore this series, but out of the three books, this is probably my least favorite. As far as the technical side of things go, just like the other books in the series, it was well written. There weren’t any noticeable formatting, grammar, spelling, or punctuation issues. I never felt jarred out of the story. The narrative was clean, clear, and easy-to-follow. The cover is gorgeous.

Unfortunately, the book felt a bit rushed and a bit too tidy. After the emotional roller-coaster of the second book, I wasn’t sure what to expect from The One. I don’t know if it was because I was so drained by the previous book, or if it was just written this way… but moments that should have been tragic and heart breaking, weren’t. There were deaths right and left, rebel attacks, gun-battles in the street, but I didn’t feel the emotion of the characters the same way I did with the previous book. The drama between the characters, while still present, had been dialed down quite a bit.

Some characters, such as Aspen and Celeste, I learned to appreciate (and believe me, that’s hard to do with those two). Others, like Elise, I learned to loathe. There were several instances where I genuinely feared for America’s future. I think out of the three books, this was the book that made me question America and Maxon’s relationship the most. They were on seriously rocky ground, and there came a point where I wasn’t sure if I was on Team Maxon anymore. He was a bit childish, more than a bit angry at America, and after all the drama of the second book… I questioned whether he was right for her. America had no such doubts. It was nice to see her finally own up to the truth—that she dearly loved Maxon—even if she came to the realization really late in the game.

My biggest problem with this story was probably the little tidbits where the narrative seemed rushed. The whole matter with the King near the end (I’m trying so hard not to be spoilery right now—you have no idea) was over and done with like it was nothing. What should, and could have been a major bit of drama was over like a gunshot. Poof. No more problem—and it bugged me. On top of that, the matter of Maxon and America declaring their feelings seemed like it happened too soon. I know that sounds weird considering it’s the third book and they still haven’t even said “I love you”, but there was a moment where they went from “I’m not going to say it first!” to “omgiloveyousomuch” in a matter of minutes. The emotional switch in my brain overloaded… I just couldn’t understand what was happening.

That isn’t to say that there weren’t some really great moments. I giggled at the tea party and the northern rebel meeting. I outright cheered with how America handled the Convicting. These were fantastic moments and America was brilliant in them. She really came into her own in this book and began to not only believe, but show the other characters that despite all the mistakes she’d made, she was princess material. It was nice to see her becoming strong in a situation that she’s had so little control over in the series.

I will say: I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. I know, I know… it’s pretty standard for romances these days to end with a tie-up chapter where everyone is obnoxiously happy and we get a peak at what the future holds for the world. I get it, but it’s cliché.

Overall, I liked the book. It wasn’t as emotional as the second book, and it was a bit too rushed, but I’m still glad I read it. This was a great series and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA Romance.

Book Review: The Elite

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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.

Book Review: The Selection

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Title: The Selection [The Selection 1]

Author: Kiera Cass

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. How much you ask? I forgot to take any notes on it. Not a single highlight, not a single complaint about grammar—which, as a review blogger, is completely unheard of in my line of work. I’ll admit it: I got sucked in. By the end of the first page I was so engrossed in America Singer’s world, that I didn’t let up for air until the end of the book.

As far as the technical side of things: I didn’t notice any grammatical mishaps, misspelled words, or punctuation errors. The formatting was spot-on, and the cover was gorgeous. The narrative was fast-paced, clear, and engaging, and the characters were endearing and dynamic.

I loved America (even with her trendy name) from the moment her story began, and that didn’t change. She fumbled sometimes and didn’t always make the best spur of the moment decisions, but I never felt she was anything but genuine. She didn’t come across as your typical too-beautiful-to-be-believed-but-dumb-as-a-brick heroine. She was a tad angsty with her mother, but her irritation over her mother’s overbearing ways was understandable. She was a smart, down-to-earth girl in a crappy society that was fully aware of just how crappy it was. She wanted to fall in love, get married, and live her life in what ever way she’d chosen—and when she found out that what she wanted and her options didn’t coincide, she was understandably heart broken. She was a great character.

Maxon too was a very endearing character. Although it was obvious that he lacked the inherent social knowledge that America seemed to have in droves, he was sweet. He was smart, funny, kind, and genuinely optimistic—but he lacked real world knowledge, and that is perhaps why America and Maxon made such a good pair. I giggled—literally—several times during this book. I fawned over the adorable moments between America and Maxon where they were poking fun at each other or outwardly showing their care for one another.

Aspen, on the other hand, I genuinely didn’t like. I know, I know… this was supposed to be a love triangle, and I’m sure I’m supposed to like Aspen every bit as much as I do Maxon… but to be honest, the only thing that boy had going for him in my eyes, was America’s love for him. There was this odd “icky” feeling I got about Aspen and America’s relationship from the very beginning, and that was before I knew he was several years older than her. This guy purportedly loved her, but had no problem treading very close to the line of the law—endangering both of them. Yes, I realize teenagers have hormones, but it still gave me a squidgy feeling. As the story progressed and Aspen took a step back from their relationship, I was angry. It felt too much like he was using her, and I know I was supposed to feel that way, but no manner of apologizing later in the book made that moment feel okay to me. Whereas it felt like Maxon truly loved America and cherished her, Aspen’s relationship with America felt over sexualized. It felt too much like lust, and he put her in too much danger for me to get behind their relationship.

The story was an interesting concept, and leaned more towards YA Romance than Dystopian, but that didn’t bug me. It was an interesting take on the future and it was fun to see the characters essentially stuck in a reality-TV show. There was drama, romance, danger, and mystery, and I ate it up with a spoon. I would happily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys YA fiction, and I’ve already made the leap to purchase the next two books in the series. I can’t wait to delve further into America Singer’s world.