by Kiera Cass
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Approximate Length: 323 pages
Obtained Via: Bought
Format Read In: Hardback
View from the Traffic Light:
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
Reading The Elite was quite the unique reading experience, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. I don’t want to repeat my The Selection review, but on the whole, while there were major flaws in the writing in that book, the story was just FUN. It really was the equivalent of reality TV, and while that may not make it the best literature ever, it was super-entertaining.
This book was also entertaining, but with way more problems. And I think one of the main reasons is that I CANNOT like America. I just can’t. I liked her well enough in The Selection, and while she sometimes got on my nerves, I respected where she was coming from. She was resourceful, cunning, and kind, and relatively smart about things. This all went on a downhill spiral in The Elite though. America suffers from a strong case of The Informed Character Trait. Now, I don’t know if I’m the only person to use this term, but I use it more frequently than I would like. In essence, the Informed Character Trait is when you, the reader, are repeatedly told–either through dialogue in the book or just the narration–that a character has a trait or ability, when all evidence points to the contrary. For America, it’s her intelligence.
Now, I love intelligent characters, and I don’t expect every character to be intelligent, but if you have people tell America REPEATEDLY that she’s intelligent, you should back it up. And yet all America did over & over again was make dumb mistakes. America is not a smart character. Feisty? Yes. Compassionate? I’ll let you argue that point(though she does tend to string both Maxon and Aspen along), resourceful? She definitely knows how to use what’s available. But time and time again, she does the dumbest thing possible. And this just drove me up the wall(obviously).
Now, as far as Aspen and Maxon: Aspen has yet to do anything to redeem himself, so cross him off for a character I could like. Maxon was a “perfect” character in the first book, and while it’s nice to see a little bit more depth to his character, I think it might have gone too far in the opposite direction. At this point, I’m not really rooting for any of them. I’d say I still like Maxon the best, because despite his flaws he really DOES try to improve the life of people in his country. I’m no longer sure how I feel about America and Maxon together though.
Despite all of my ranting, I actually enjoyed this book WHILE reading. I mean, it’s just a drama-fest, but it’s an entertaining one. It’s only when I closed the book that all of the “What did I just read?” questions sprung to my mind. I wouldn’t say this book is fun, though, which is why I’m so rant-y about it. Cass’ writing is still plain, but she did a better job of building the world slightly in this one. I predict more action in the final book(oh, how I hope so!). That being said, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend against this book. Just know what you’re getting in to.
Final Impression: How in the world do I rate this book? Really? Characters–1 star. Entertainment value–4 or 5 stars. Plot? I don’t even know. I gave The Selection 3 stars and I though this book was step down, so I’ll go with 2/5 cupcakes.