Book: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Summary: The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever - and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen? America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want - and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away. - HarperTeen, 2013.
Have you ever had a friend where you know something good and perfect was right in front of them, but they refuse to see it or acknowledge that it might exist? It's annoying and frustrating, right? Well, if you read this book, you will feel those feelings all over again.
Man, I feel like I could write an essay or a thesis on this love triangle, with particular focus on America and Maxon and/or the theme of love in this novel itself. Their relationship is so complicated and it's so frustrating because you just know that they are perfect for each other, but they refuse to see it. Every time you think the relationship can be clearly defined, a new detail or problem is thrown in to make everything messed up and complicated again.
I would also be especially interested in taking a poll in order to see how people of different age groups and different life experiences see this love triangle. Because for me, who has had experience with love and has witnessed love, it is absolutely clear to me that America loves Maxon. She doesn't "like" him. She doesn't "have a crush" on him. She genuinely feels love for him. The only problem is, she refuses to admit it. She thinks that staying in one place, staying stagnant, is the way love works and Aspen is that port for her boat to sail to. Love requires constant, consistent change because people change. People can't stay the same. She doesn't realize that her love relationship with Aspen is over. They can only be friends. If she just talked about it with Aspen, everything would be fine and then she could just tell Maxon that she loves him.
But not in this book because then the story would be over too soon.
All this, and I haven't even addressed Maxon yet. All I'm going to say on his point is that while he claims that he loves America, spending time with the other girls is not going to help him sort out his feelings or help America with coming to terms with hers. I understand that he needs to in order to continue with the Selection, but the more time he spends with the other girls, the more insecure America becomes and the more likely she is to slip away out of his grasp. He's losing her and he doesn't even know it.
Anyway, let's get back to actually talking about the story.
Well, this series is definitely one where you can't read the middle or the end and expect some kind of long, detailed synopsis. Cass spends very little time recapping. She just dives right in where she had left off at the end of book one. Which is good, considering that some authors do recaps in order to bring first time readers up to date. At the same time, it can be frustrating and even annoying to old readers because it can be considered a waste of time and a hint that the author doesn't have much to say this time around.
Once again, Cass does a good job of not dragging out the competition. She continues to focus on narrowing down the amount of girls while developing the ones who are important to the story. Certainly, all six girls are important, but some are more important than others and you can kind of get an idea of who will eliminated later on due to the lack of attention on them.
Book One was the set up and now, Book Two is the development, with its main focus being on the conflict America has on choosing who she loves. This conflict can be frustrating at times, but you have to keep in mind that she's a seventeen year old girl trying to decide her future. That's like asking a high school junior to decide their career choice within a few months. At times, it seems like she's making the matter more complicated than it actually is. For example, she says she can't handle the crown, but Maxon is the crown. The crown is a part of who he is and if she loved him, she would know that and know that she has to accept that part of him. It's a real roadblock in their relationship.
The plot of the rebels is also developed more within the novel - America isn't quite the "rebel darling" yet, but knowing how rebellion in teen novels works, she's running into the danger of becoming the "symbol of the rebellion". Whether or not she gets involved is left to be decided in book three. I'll be interested to know whether or not Cass allows this to happen or if she puts a twist on this character trait.
There are many defining moments within the novel that help develop the relationships of the characters as well as develop the two plots that Cass is tracing out. The pacing is well done and it's still a very fast read once you get sucked in by it. You just can't help but keep read. It's getting more excited and you can really feel the stakes America is facing here.
We're heading toward a large climax and Book Three will be the witness to it. Book Two is lots and lots of heartache. I feel like America should listen to "Tell Him" by Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion. That's my theme song for this book.
Overall, it's a good continuation and development of the characters is pretty evenly distributed. This series continues to be a guilty pleasure.
I give The Elite an A-.
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