Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection Series
Publish Date: April 23rd, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?
America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.
Trilogies are notorious for their disappointing middle installments, and The Elite held true to this concept, demonstrating a slew of one dimensional characters, gaping plot holes, and a frustratingly slow pace, which served as some as the best qualities for the first book in the series, The Selection. Maybe I’m becoming overly critical or have overindulged in dystopian trilogies over the past several years, but I find myself falling in love with the first novel in a series and becoming increasingly frustrated with any later installments. Maybe it’s time to look for a few contemporary novels…
First of all, let’s address one of the most pressing issues: the characters. Reading 336 pages about someone you would push off a cliff in a heartbeat is a painful endeavor for everyone involved (there were several heated conversations on the matter during which my dislike for the characters was made very clear). Unlike the majority of dystopian protagonists, America lacks confidence and decisiveness, spending the entire novel moping because she can’t bring herself to choose between Maxon and Aspen. Relying upon that theory, she might as well not eat dinner for fear of being unable to choose between red and white wine. As the book progressed, America developed the equally annoying habit of becoming enraptured with whomever she was conversing, whether it was Maxon or Aspen. After having a private conversation with Maxon, she was ready to marry him in the blink of an eye, but during the next chapter, she was prepared to return home and start anew with Aspen. While I was tempted to abandon this book, I kept reading, secretly hoping that she would miraculously grow a backbone and move on. Nope, nothing of the sort. If anything, her noncommittal attitude worsened as the book progressed. Talk about a lack of character development.
I was also extremely curious while reading as to whether or not America had a brain in her head. Nearly every decision on her part was illogical, and she couldn’t identify the potential consequences of her actions. For example, Marlee’s punishment for fooling around with a royal guard failed to dissuade America from secretly meeting Aspen; in fact, it did just the opposite and caused an increase in the number of times that America and Aspen snuck away to a secluded area of the palace to spend time with one another. Because that makes perfect sense.
Aspen wasn’t helping matters because he can’t seem to make up his mind, either. One moment he’s cozying up to America and tending to her every need and the next he’s flirting and dancing with her maids and fellow competitors in the Selection. So long story short, everyone is sending each other mixed messages leading to one jumbled mess of confusion and hurt feelings. That is the extent of the plot. And no, there is no dramatic cliffhanger at the conclusion of the novel; in fact, there is very little resolution to the problems presented throughout the book. Therefore, you would easily be able to skip over The Elite entirely and jump straight to The One without feeling as if you had missed anything significant.
The minor characters were comprised mainly of clingy, whiny, complaining girls. Having attended a private, all-girls school since first grade, I am privy to enough of these interactions on a daily basis that I do not enjoy reliving these moments while reading. The various girls participating in the Selection represent stereotypical girls from various social groups: there is the popular clique, the nerds, the artistically talented group, and the athletes, all of which were portrayed as extremely unoriginal. And of course, the guy always falls for the unpopular, least suspecting girl who goes through her day-to-day life by trying not to draw attention to herself. Every. Single. Time.
Meanwhile, Kiera Cass felt the need to throw in a few rebel attacks, simply overcomplicating things. These rebel attacks amounted to…wait for it, wait for it…NOTHING! They were minute and unnecessary, serving more as a nuisance than a viable plot point. The only comparison I can draw is to that of a persistent fly that you can’t seem to swat and are consequently forced to listen to it buzzing in your ear for the next several hours. The only difference: the fly eventually drops dead of its own accord. The same can’t be said for America, sadly. Of course, such a trivial event had to send the girls participating in the Selection into hysterics. Because clearly, everyone loves a group of teenage girls wailing about their “terrible lives” and the fact that they must live in fear of another attack. Insert eye roll here.
Then, we can move on to the dialogue. And the excessive crying. Both of which became obnoxious within the first fifty pages. And failed to improve, contributing to a fairly large number of facepalms. There’s not much else to say on the matter, but to emphasize my point:
Kriss: I want to have seven bridesmaids at my wedding. I want to have a big wedding if Maxon chooses me.
Celeste: I won’t want to have bridesmaids. Since it would be televised, I want all eyes on me.
Overall, I found The Elite to be extremely disappointing, especially after I had fallen in love with The Selection. While I tried to give the book the benefit of the doubt initially, my patience quickly wore off, evolving into all-out hatred. While I typically don’t enjoy the middle books in trilogies, there are very few that I have truly loathed, and The Elite definitely tops the list. So save yourself the frustration and simply skip ahead to The One – you won’t be missing much.