|Published April 23, 2013| Harper Collins UK, Children| Ebook Edition, 272 pages |
Many thanks to Harper Collins UK for providing me with this copy for an honest review (via NetGalley)
Summary: 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.
One of the things I love most about books is that like ice cream, they come in all different “flavours” ideal for whatever mood you’re in. If I had to pair The Elite with a flavour of ice cream, it would definitely be double chocolate chip with fudge and caramel swirls. Sweet, fun and pure indulgence, this is the perfect book to curl up with and lose yourself in the cute and compelling plot.
The Elite was one of my most anticipated reads of 2013 and gladly it did not disappoint. I devoured the book in a matter of hours after dancing around the kitchen in my pjs when the ARC landed in my inbox thoroughly frightening my dog and possibly the neighbours!
When we last met America Singer, she had just been chosen as one of The Elite. The competition has been culled and the tension is at an all time high as the remaining six girls inch ever closer to the grand prize – Maxon and the throne of Illéa. Now as her relationship with the prince deepens she also has to deal with her lingering feelings for Aspen, her first love who in The Selection broke her heart leading to her entering the competition and later showing up as a Palace guard throwing a spanner in the works.
Throughout the book, the love triangle is focused on heavily which was equally my favourite and least favourite aspect in particular because of America. While in The Selection she is feisty, independent and truly her own person, in The Elite she unfortunately behaves maddeningly fickle at times. Throughout the book, her personality and behaviour changes depending on which boy she is spending time with and it only takes a smile or a cross word from either of them for her to flip flop between them which I wasn’t a fan of. She plays with both boys’ emotions which I think was unfair however I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that her obvious youth plays a big part. Despite this America never considers just how life changing her decision would be until close to the end and because of this never truly gives much thought to how the boys feel and what they’re offering her as it is always too easy for her to switch between them knowing the other would be waiting.
When Maxon appears to be playing hard to get and spends more time with the other girls (as is the nature of the competition) America immediately considers it a slight and never once contemplates the many layers of the game and her position in it.
While her behaviour was foolish towards the boys, happily she was her regular kick-ass self when it came to the other characters. I loved her interaction with her maids; her friendship with them evolved to a sisterhood filled with emotion and loyalty and was one of my favourite parts of the book. Her defiance to toe the line and accept the status-quo also had me cheering for her and really helped build up the tension and pacing of the book towards the end as America risks all for what she believes in.
Because of the smaller group of girls still in the running, we got to know the competition a bit better. In particular Kriss who came out from behind to position herself as a worthy opponent to America. It was interesting to see Maxon interact more with the girls in this book and his behaviour towards them did make me more sympathetic to America’s feelings despite her actions at times.
The idea of Maxon whispering sweet nothings and sharing stolen kisses and promises with six girls does seem baffling but considering that TV shows such as The Bachelor, Take Me Out and Paradise Island have all been ratings winners over the years the concept isn’t as far out as one would think. It’s not a position I personally could cope with very well but it does make for riveting reading and Cass holds your attention from start to finish.
One of my favourite parts of the book was the development of Maxon and Aspen’s characters. While in The Selection both seemed more like Ken dolls, in The Elite they are far more realised.
Aspen’s feelings for America as well as his reasons for leaving her in The Selection are definitely more understandable and his moments with her are sweet. While he does prove himself to be a worthy suitor for America, I’m afraid Maxon stole my heart in The Selection and The Elite confirmed it.
In this book we see just how much pressure he’s under to prove himself as both a potential ruler and husband. The idea that as a One he can’t possibly know suffering or hardship is truly quashed in this book as some shocking revelations about his past and present come to light which really made my heart break for him as his solitude as a Royal, always having to put on a “calm face” meant he has had to deal with it on his own with no help from anyone.
The world building is developed more in The Elite and we find out just how the state of Illéa was born in some shocking revelations and with the rebels gaining more ground and support, the expectation of change particularly with America’s influence on Maxon is highly anticipated in book three. The cruelty and injustice of the Caste system is also developed in this book with one stomach churning incident that proved saving face is considered more important than the lives and well being of the citizens of Illéa.
The position and state of mind America finds herself in at the end of the book is worth all the flip flopping and indecision as Cass leaves us panting for more in what should be an amazing conclusion.
This book stirred up so many emotions in me while reading and made me laugh, brought me to tears and experience one dizzying swooning episode I don’t think I’ll forget for a long time! (Heads up girls! Chapter 8!)
The Elite is definitely one of my favourite Spring reads.