Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite (The Selection #2)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: dystopia, fantasy, romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1st May 2013
Pages: 272
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
America Singer has the chance to leave normal life for a world of glamour and luxury… for ever.

She was chosen for The Selection, a reality TV competition to be gorgeous Prince Maxon′s bride. Surviving the rivalry and turmoil of the first round was tough, especially with secret feelings to conceal. But America′s gone further than she dared to dream and made it to The Elite – the final six.

Friendships are tested to breaking point as favourites emerge. America′s feelings for Maxon grow ever stronger, but she suspects darker mysteries in his family past. With Aspen close-by offering comfort, solace and something more, where do her loyalties truly lie?

My Review:

The Elite delivered exactly what I wanted in the second book of the Selection series. There’s more drama, more love triangles and more gorgeous gowns fit for a princess-to-be. America Singer is still in the middle working out her feelings regarding her two admirers – Crown Prince Maxon and her childhood sweetheart now Palace guard, Aspen. Every time she thinks she’s decided which way her heart is leading her something happens and makes her feel mixed up all over again. Maxon only has six girls left in The Selection and where America was once comfortable regarding his feelings towards the other girls she’s now anxious and more jealous than she ever though she’d feel. Emotions are running strong. Marlee is still acting oddly, Celeste has more nasty tricks up her sleeve and the King weighs in with who he think Maxon should pick…

The first half of this novel doesn’t have much regarding the dystopian aspect of this book but the second half ramps up and delivers some much-anticipated action. The rebels are back and the threat to the crown and country. The remaining girls from the Selection get more time to show who they are as people as well as learning the importance and responsibility of  being Maxon’s wife. America is still a little too amazing for my liking – being a hero to the people and the funniest girl in the Selection – but more of her flaws came out as this series is developing. The love triangles are a little overwhelming at times with America deciding on one of her men and then being adamant that it’s the other one she’s meant to be with. And then another flip-flop in her decision a few pages later.

For the Bachelor fans – there’s still quite a bit in this book for you! Extravagant balls, a bit of scandal and scheming competitors are still in the mix and feel like they’d be right at home on the show. Whilst the Bachelor aspect is what drew me to this series, I’ve grown attached to the characters and unique drama Kiera Cass has brought to her story. I can not wait to read The One and find out who America chooses and which of the remaining contestants will be Maxon’s bride – along with just how much more damage the rebels will inflict.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon
Book Depository 


Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection (The Selection #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: dystopia, fantasy, romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1st June 2012
Pages: 336
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (goodreads):
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…

It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s love.

Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.

Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret — one which could throw the whole competition… and change her life forever.

My Review:

From the blurb, The Selection sounds like a dystopian version of the show, The Bachelor. Thirty-five girls all attempting to snag the Prince and have their very own happily ever after – fairy tale style. Some token nice girls and a mean, conniving few just to scheme and mix it up a little. That’s the reason I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. It’s my guilty pleasure. I love the Bachelor. I’ve watched every episode from every season, every episode of the Bachelorette and all seasons of the somewhat ridiculous spin-off  Bachelor Pad. It’s a secret of mine that I tape every episode and then curl up in front of the TV and watch the drama unfold.

And whilst this book was just like a season of my beloved show with a few small dystopian elements thrown in for good measure, it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. I feel a little contrary for saying this but it was exactly what I expected and that’s why I was disappointed. I wanted more. More twists, more of the dystopian world Cass created and more of the other girls who made up the Selection.

In terms of characters, America is a textbook Mary-Sue. She’s so beautiful, such an amazing singer, so brave and (despite a slightly aggressive meet-cute with Maxim) is practically perfect in every way. Even her name. America, it felt to me like Cass was trying too hard to make us love America – to dislike her would almost be unpatriotic. But as a person, America didn’t always make sense to me. She’s so giving and generous to her family and yet she jumps at the first chance she has to take half of her income away from them despite telling us often that they are next to starvation. It felt a little hypocritical considering some of the things she says about her brother. I think I would have found her to be a more likeable character had she had more insight to her own behaviour and motives towards others. She’s just a little too perfect and lacks a certain depth.

The rest of the girls who make the Selection for Maxim to choose his future bride are an interesting lot – Marlee is as sweet as Celeste is ambitious. I liked the mix of girls included but would have liked to have seen more of them and their interactions with Maxim. Whilst this book is told in the first person narrative from America’s perspective, it would have been interesting to have seen Maxim’s dates with others though stories being told by the girls to America. There’s not enough gossip!

The idea of the numbers representing ones station in society and the rewards/disadvantages that went along with ones number was a captivating concept. I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between America’s life as a 5 and then living in the lap of luxury.

Plot wise, this is a fairly predictable novel but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s a love triangle that’s only just getting started, beautiful gowns and a trio of maids that reminded me of a Disney Princess’ animal sidekicks in the most delightful way. Will I be reading The Elite (The Selection #2)? Absolutely. Whilst I may have had some issues with this first book in the series, I admit that I’m hooked to the drama, the cattiness and I can’t wait to see happen next in this not-quite-fairytale romance.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon
Book Depository