Author: Kiera Cass
Publication Date: April 23rd 2013
My Rating: 4 1/2 Starfish
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. - Summary and cover image from Goodreads
The Elite was every bit as good as its predecessor.
Plot: The plot was slower than in the first book (29 girls were eliminated in the first book while only one was eliminated in the second), but the author kept it interesting by throwing in a few surprise twists.
Setting: These books are set in a dystopian-type world where the king and his government rule all through a very strict and unfair “caste system”. The world that is set up in this story is not unrealistic or too “out there”. Not much about the setting was said in the first book, but the Elite digs deeper into the history of Illea, and reveals a shocking truth about its esteemed founder, Gregory Illea.
Shock factors: Like I said before, the plot ran a little slow, focusing mostly on the love triangle. There were a few revelations having to do with the government and the rebels that were nice to sort of play around with and build theories on. There was one event at the beginning of the book that I thought was silly and could have been done much better.
Prince Maxon: Maxon was, yet again, the best character in the story. He was his usual charming and sweet self, totally in love with America, willing to do anything for her, etc. But then there’s this thing that happens that drives a wedge between the two of them. He kind of backs off a bit through the rest of the story, paving the way for Aspen to have his time in the spotlight. But Maxon later steps in to rescue America and pays some serious consequences for it. Now if that doesn’t prove how much he deserves her, then I don’t know what does!
America: America is an okay heroine, but she’s one of those girls that sees only half the picture and makes an assumption based on opinion as opposed to actual fact. America did get on my nerves a lot more in this book than in the first book with the whole dating thing. Since it’s a love triangle, she obviously has a relationship with Aspen as well as Maxon. Maxon is sort of “the bachelor” in the story because he dates every Elite girl to try and find his soul mate. In the meantime, America is seeing Aspen behind Maxon’s back, and then she has the gall to get upset with him over dating other girls when she’s doing the exact same thing! Basically, she’s a hypocrite. She’s stubborn, which is not always a bad quality; she uses it as a way to stand up for what is right, and I admire her for doing that.
Aspen: Aspen is my least favorite character. He’s super annoying and way too hot headed for my taste. I honestly have no idea why America likes him so much because he tells her all the time how she doesn’t have what it takes to be a princess. He really never encourages her or supports her decisions. And to top it all off, he doesn’t care if he wins America by default. That, to me, seems like he’s saying that he doesn’t care enough about her to really fight for her.
Secondary Characters: The other characters that were essential to the story line were written very well. They each played a part in getting the main characters were they needed to be. Some of them had dirty secrets that added to the drama, and some had secrets yet to be exposed. I guess they’re saving that for book 3!
Strengths: Elaborating on the political parts of the book was a smart choice. Since the first book didn’t shed much light on why things were the way they were, it was helpful that The Elite went into greater detail on the subjects that were important for readers to understand. The simple writing style of the book made everything flow smoothly together. Throwing several loveable characters into the mix also made The Elite a more enjoyable read.
Weaknesses: I tried really hard to think of something that made this book less than wonderful, but could come up with nothing to say other than there were a few, minor cheesy moments.
Overall, this trilogy is one of my favorites, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone looking for an exciting read.