review: the elite

eliteTitle: The Elite
Series: The Selection, #2
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
In a nutshell: My expectations were not exceeded, mostly because of the main character America

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.

Oh, that book. That book.

Basically, The Elite follows the same pattern as the first book. I enjoyed this book slightly more than I expected. I remember reading The Selection like a year ago which was an OK read. Heartbreaking to the end but not in an outstanding way. Well, let me tell you: This time, it was simply…..ridiculous.

The Elite picks up a few days after where The Selection left off. Basically, the situation in the palace has not changed. Like at all. America’s internal conflict (or should I rather say, internal state?) neither (pssst, it’s still about “OMG, who can I choose, Maxon or Aspen?). Well, I can tell you right from the beginning: The book definitely fails to work out this love-triangle. It was frustrating to read those passages! But I’ll say more on that subject later.
Unlike the first book, The Elite starts off in a fast-paced way: Poor Maxon now has to pick a bride amongst the 6 remaining girls (the so called Elite). America is, as we know, his favorite. What I really liked about this book is that due to the shrinking of the group of competitors we’ve now gotten the chance to get to know the secondary characters better. To understand their attitudes toward the Selection due to their background although most of them remain…….secondary? Not crucial for the book? However, that didn’t really interfere with the flow of reading so I was fine with that. The number of attacks on the palace has rapidly increased which disturb the Selection. America now starts to understand what kind of burden and responsibility will await her if she does become princess of Illea.

For me, it was really hard to understand the Illea world in the first book. It failed to give readers the important background information: closer information on the structure of the society, the history of the country….you name it. I especially didn’t understand the motivation of the rebels from North and South (seriously, they are LAME. Ridiculous wannabe-terrorists) and generally the PURPOSE of the whole Selection thing. However, you will find some of those questions answered in this book (more or less). Actually, it was quite a clever move to make America find Gregory Illea’s diaries, the founding father of the country. Yet, I have to say the diary entries were pretty predictable. I also had the impression that this part of the story was pretty squeezed into the book.

The most disturbing “thing” in the book was probably main character America herself. Her naivete and her acting without consideration. Also, in the book it is often mentioned that she sometimes perceives the competition as her own “little Selection”: Maxon or Aspen? This storyline is a textbook example why you should NOT add an unnecessary love-triangle to a book. Yes, I do see that Aspen’s presence causes America quite a headache, but the main problem is that his character is too…..diaphanous and replaceable. Not memorable. Simply a character that was created for a twist in the story.
Oh, and then America sometimes gets shocked when Maxon doesn’t spend enough time with her. Honestly, you sign up for the Selection because you KNOW that it is all about The Bachelor….in a princess version. I can’t sympathize with America when it comes to this subject. At all. When she starts whining and fussing around and all this stuff.Facepalm Don’t take me wrong. I sometimes enjoyed America’s rash and headlong decisions. This characteristic shapes her more and more (not exactly in a positive way) so she doesn’t end up being an unauthentic bitch (although there was a scene when she does start a bitch fight. And I was like facepalming over and over again.)

We also get to know Maxon a bit better. He’s become a  quite genuine and likeable character. Although he always gives America his unconditional affection, he slowly starts to recognize that she  herself might not be able to give him everything what he’s hoped for. And don’t forget the enormous pressure coming from his father. That way I could forgive Maxon’s “slips”.
Queen Amberly, Maxon’s mom, also turned out to be a fairly positive and lovely character. I’d really like to read more about her in the last book, especially as I don’t understand how such an amiable person can tolerate such an authoritative husband (the king) or even LOVE him.

Despite her very simple writing, Kiera Cass has managed to awake my enthusiasm for dresses, balls and……glamour once again. And albeit America makes a rather negative impression due to her impulsive manner: Let’s be honest, the book and the Selection can’t exist without her witty and compassionate personality.

Perhaps, my expectations on this book were just wrong. I’ve expected Maxon to finally choose his princess so that the last book in the trilogy will focus on the problems and conflicts within the society (rebels etc.), e.g. by repealing the caste system.

The Elite was nevertheless quite an entertaining read even though it definitely lacked logical aspects. However, it was a nice mix of drama, drama and….even more drama! I’m torn between being well-entertained or simply annoyed by the book. Therefore:2CC

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