book reviews / dystopia / fairy tale / fantasy

Book Review: The Elite

Series: The Selection

Kiera Cass

YA     

 

Welcome back to this dystopian cupcake of a series.

ID-100277600

 

I liked Elite, the middle book of The Selection Series trilogy, the same way I liked The Empire Strikes Back as a mid-trilogy installment. We’re past all the exposition and can delve deeper into our characterizations and plot complications.

 

Our plot thus far:

America Singer didn’t really want to be part of a reality-show style contest to wed Prince Maxon. But by law, there’s no backing out now, not even when rebels groups attack the palace. Not even when former love-of-her-life, Aspen, is disturbingly close by as a palace guard. America is stunned to find she likes Price Maxon. That is, when he’s not dating other contestants or carrying out political choices that make her question his character. Can she trust him? Can she trust her own feelings?

The immediate appeal of this series is the odd combination of fairy tale romance and dystopia. This second book steers us more firmly into the realm of sociopolitical commentary. Yet we don’t lose the fluff completely.

Frou-frou dresses? Check.
Ballroom dancing? Check.
Table-dancing with Italian princesses? Check.
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Even as America comes to appreciate the material perks of her new position, I appreciated that the serious side of her character grows as well. What does she do when she sees injustice? What will it cost her? Is her impulsive way of speaking out the best way to achieve her own goals for society? America is a brave and confident character, yet she also faces periodic shame (rightfully or not). She’s a realistic heroine, despite her unlikely circumstances, and worth cheering on.

The will-they-won’t-they trauma-drama of the romances is at times frustrating. But the hitch is, you can’t take it out, because it forms the bulk of the plot. By the time you get 35 contestants, a prince, a guard, and some maids thrown in for good measure, it’s not a love triangle. It’s a love polygon. So emotions and hormones veer wildly every few pages. Again, frustrating is the word. But hey, they are teenagers, and the circumstances are bizarre (as reality TV tends to be). Author Kiera Cass seems to both enjoy and ridicule her own setting. Can love be real in a fabricated setting? Are the political systems that set up society just as fabricated?

Things I enjoyed most about this book:

  1. The addition of 2 surprise characters.
  2. Character. (As in virtue, as fusty that that sounds.) It pops up in characters and places we don’t expect. This doesn’t mean we don’t have people making really bad choices from time to time.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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