Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

You know you have a good book in your hands when it just sticks to your fingers like glue. I started reading "The Elite", the sequel to Kiera Cass's riveting "The Selection", only a couple nights ago, and finished it last night! I read "The Selection" when it came out last year, and, much to my surprise, my sister devoured it on her own Kindle as well--and that's when you know you have an exceptionally interesting read in your hands.

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection, to win over Prince Maxon's heart. Just six remain. And only one will be chosen as the crown princess of Illea. Seventeen-year-old America still isn't sure where her heart lies. Her new and exciting romance with Maxon sweeps her off her feet, but when she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, she can't help but be overcome with memories of her childhood sweetheart and the future they planned together. But the stakes are higher than before. The rebels' attacks are growing more frequent and destructive, and a devastating loss makes America question whether this is what she really wants. And with the clock ticking, America knows that a happy ending might be harder to achieve than she thought.

One of the most significant aspects in "The Elite" is the romance--that swoon-worthy, heart-stopping romance. I finished "The Selection" in a state of indecision like America. Sure, Maxon's the handsome, charming prince, but Aspen's her ever-loyal childhood sweetheart! What's even more interesting in "The Elite" is that Ms. Cass never makes it obvious who America's going to end up with, something that a lot of YA novels tend to do from the beginning. As the story progresses, however, we're most definitely left to our own judgments of the characters, since every single one of them has their individual flaws and personalities. I don't want to taint your own judgment about Maxon, Aspen and America with my own, but let me just say that I'm definitely leaning towards one of the boys now! Another thing is that there's some great potential danger in having your heroine fence-sit so much over two boys, but I think Ms. Cass did a good job in not letting me hate on America for being a bit of a player.

As for America herself, I definitely grow to like her even more in "The Elite". There's some great character development going on throughout the novel, and at the end of it, I got the picture of a strong, passionate heroine who still retains her seventeen-year-old-ness. What I mean by that is that while America is determined and well-meaning, she still makes rash mistakes and has a lot to learn about the world around her, especially since Illea is in a state of war. I also love the fact that she's just an overall kind person, who's compassionate and loyal to her family and friends, no matter what caste they're in. I especially loved her relationship with her dad--they're more like friends than anything, and that kind of reminded me of my own relationship with my dad.

The plot of "The Elite" was no less intense than that of "The Selection", and it had me flipping through the pages like a madman. When I wrote in the synopsis earlier that the stakes are higher than before, I wasn't kidding. The tension is really up there throughout the novel, not only with the rebellion and the war, but also emotionally with the whole Selection and the pressure it puts on you as a contender. There are so many twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat, and it just makes me all the more excited to see how everything ends in the final book of the trilogy.

Overall, "The Elite" is an exciting, engaging sequel with wonderfully dreamy romances, a strong and believable heroine and a gripping storyline. I highly recommend "The Selection Trilogy" for anyone who loves exciting stories--I've seen so many statements and reviews of the book making similarities with reality TV shows. Definitely worth a read!

Rating: 4.5/5

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