Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite (2013) by Kiera Cass is the sequel to The Selection, and the second book in The Selection trilogy. In this story, we read the continuation of America Singer’s stay in the royal palace as the 35 girls in the prince’s Selection are narrowed down to just six contenders. The writing reads much the same as the first book: light, addicting and absorbing, even if the author does tend to tell rather than show. However, the political aspect comes more into focus here, adding an unexpected layer of complexity and mystery, and darkening the otherwise lighthearted tone.

I found this book equally engaging, though perhaps not as well-organized or cohesive, as its predecessor. Throughout the novel, America’s love triangle between Prince Maxon and her old boyfriend, Aspen, who’s now a guard at the palace, becomes more pronounced as a constant emotional tug-of-war. I, personally, lost respect for Maxon and didn’t like him nearly as much as I did in the first book. As a result, I failed to see what America still likes about him. Plus, she clearly doesn’t want the crown. Meanwhile, I felt her passion was far stronger with Aspen. Her choice should’ve been quite plain. It also wasn’t clear to me why both men were continuously putting up with her indecision and fickleness, especially considering what both of them were risking by harboring affections for – and waiting on – her.

My heart was with Aspen throughout. Yet, it was rather out-of-character when he told America he didn’t think she had it in her be a princess. (Granted, it was meant as a compliment, to indicate she could never be as seemingly cold-hearted as the royal family.) But wasn’t Aspen the one who convinced her to go after the opportunity in the first place? It just seemed inconsistent with his character. He’d previously always believed in and encouraged her. And then Maxon’s unfaithfulness was giving me whiplash. I get it that America deserved no less, seeing as she’s incapable of committing to him and was going behind his back with another boy. But it made me dislike Maxon all the more. However, I want to commend the author for keeping it classy; she could’ve gone in the direction of catfights and general trashiness, but kept the book refreshingly clean. I appreciate that.

Anyway. America says it herself: her romance with Maxon is a slow-burning fire, while Aspen is an explosion of fireworks. Especially considering how corrupt and evil the king, Maxon’s father, is proving to be, and how little America wants the crown for herself, I was shocked what ended up becoming of Aspen’s character and how the novel concluded. I’m curious how the trilogy unfolds in its final installment, The One, but seeing as I’m a bit disheartened where the characters are headed, I may take my time in getting to it. Of course, these are just my fangirl musings and not meant as criticism. What are your thoughts on The Elite?

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