Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: The Elite

THE ELITE
The Selection #2
Kiera Cass
Young Adult/Dystopian
336 pages
HarperTeen
Available April 23rd
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.


MY THOUGHTS
The Elite drops us back into a world of carefully calculated pageantry, where smiles and simple gestures have so much more meaning than they appear to on the surface, and emotional attachment seems to change on a whim, as easily altered as the remaining girls’ wardrobes between one royal function and the next. While there is an undeniable addictive quality to America’s story, this second installment presents us with a number of challenges as the competition for Maxon’s heart–or in some cases, simply his title–becomes a bit more heated. Though there was no true love triangle in The Selection, something we were absurdly thankful for, the same cannot be said for The Elite, Aspen’s appearance at the palace at the very end of book one forcing this story into a familiar direction that causes our interest to waver as a result.

America was a likeable young woman in book one, someone who tried to sort through her lingering feelings for Aspen even as she stumbled her way through the Selection process, and she was always upfront with Maxon about her emotional unavailability. Unfortunately, the America whose honesty we greatly appreciated in The Selection is absent in this second installment, becoming instead the epitome of a romantic pendulum – swaying ceaselessly back and forth between Maxon and Aspen, constantly second guessing her feelings all the while. Just when we think she’s going to reach out and grab one of them to hold her still, some small drama occurs that forces her to release her grasp and go freely swinging back toward the other man with more speed than she had previously.

The love triangle might not be as bothersome were both Maxon and Aspen equally appealing, but Maxon is the true standout between the two of them, thus making America’s constant waffling all the more frustrating. We spent almost no time with Aspen in The Selection, so all we know of him upon entering into this second book is that he pushed America away when she least wanted to go, and then showed up to fight for her far too late. Our time with him in The Elite is strictly superficial–stolen kisses and whispered reminders of a love past–and our lingering disapproval of his actions in book one keeps us from fully embracing him even as we find ourselves grateful for his understanding of America’s romantic confusion. Maxon, on the other hand, repeatedly chips away at any uncertainty we might have had as to his feelings for America, and while he is certainly not drama or angst-free, he easily has our vote.

Overall, The Elite is a bit of a challenging read given the prominence of the Maxon/America/Aspen love triangle, but despite the constant fluctuation in America’s feelings, there’s still something just downright fun about this series. Those who revel in teen drama and epic relationship entanglements will no doubt enjoy The Elite and finish it craving more. Those of us who are a little less impressed (perhaps those older readers like me) with America’s game playing may find themselves stumbling a bit, but America finally does show a bit of fire in the last chapter, giving us hope she might start to own her feelings in the future and take a leap of faith instead of walking straight up to the edge before shrinking back.

Rating: 3/5


More information on Kiera and her books can be found here:

48 comments:

  1. Hm... So when I read The Selection last year I liked it but I was not really happy with the additon of the Love Triangle right at the end when I thought we wouldn't get on. Now hearing that this book focuses even more on the Triangle ... ieekk... I think I pass on the sequel feeling that I will be equally annoyed with it!

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    1. I really enjoyed The Selection Danny, but I couldn't quite deal with the love triangle in this one. I didn't feel like I knew Aspen well enough to really root for him, so when she constantly went back to him after choosing Maxon in her mind, I got irritated.

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  2. I agree with you about the love triangle in The Elite not being the best. Maxon is pretty amazing, though :) Great review!

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    1. Maxon did completely win me over in this one:)

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  3. I will still rather wait for the tvshow ;)

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    1. I'm excited to see what they're going to do with the TV series!

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  4. Thanks for the review! I might add it!!

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    1. You're welcome! Definitely start with The Selection if you haven't read that, I thoroughly enjoyed it:)

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  5. Too bad! The Selection was such a fun, happy book to read. I loved the relationship between Maxon and American in that book. I'm still reading it, too invested in the outcome, but I will be a little more prepared. I didn't expect American to act like that. Really disappointed!
    Great review, Jenny!

    Heather

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    1. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed in her as well. She was so upfront in The Selection, that was what I loved most about her, and in this one she's just all over the place with how she feels about Aspen and Maxon. I know she's understandably confused, but I wish she had waffled quite as much as she did. Still, like I said, there's something addictive about this series, and I will definitely be continuing.

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  6. I still haven't read The Selection but plenty of people told me great things about it. I hope I'll read it soon. I'm really sad to hear that there is a love triangle *sigh* but what can we do. Great review Jenny :)

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    1. I really liked The Selection Tanja! I had high hopes for this one and it didn't quite meet them, but I still enjoy the series as a whole.

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  7. While The Selection has never intrigued (and less so after the huff-and-puffery review scandal that happened regarding it), I'm still sorry to hear that The Elite didn't hang on to the redeeming factors in The Selection. Sounds like a typical case of a love triangle bearing down on a YA trilogy to the point of it not being fun anymore!

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    1. Yeah, I wish the triangle hadn't been quite so prominent with this one. There are some things I still don't understand about the world, and I would have loved a little more info on those instead of the constant Maxon/Aspen romantic confusion.

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  8. I did enjoy reading The Selection last year but I didn't review the book because after I reached the end I feel like I've been cheated by the sudden ending, but that didn't stop me to wait for this second installment. Now, I don't know if the waiting is worth it, though I love to know what will happen next to America and Maxon, I am not eager to read more of teen dramas and love triangles issues.

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    1. This one ends fairly suddenly as well, so you may want to wait for the last book before picking this one up:)

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  9. Ok, so I got The Selection as a paperback a few weeks ago and I'm really hoping it will be a good read for me. I only skimmed your review for that reason, but what I gathered was that America is a little clueless about what to do with her feelings, right? I'm not a fan of these type of characters, but as long as my team's winning LOL I can deal. Usually. I love the covers for this series - so, so pretty! I hope the last book will work better for you than the second one did:)

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    1. I liked The Selection Siiri! It was straight entertainment for me and I could appreciate that about it. It's not going to blow anyone's mind, but it was really fun. I gave it a 4:) America was not so confused in the first book which is what I liked about her, but in this one, she's all over the place.

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  10. While I enjoyed the first book, I'm not happy to hear about America's waffling! Maxon was definitely my favorite, though I can see the appeal of a prince giving you attention. But you KNOW how I feel about the Dreaded Triangle, especially when it dominates a plot! Grr. Still, I'll have to give this one a shot...

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    1. I'll be interested to see what you think of this one Mary. America's waffling might not bother everyone as much as it bothered me. I'm just so tired of the triangle setup that my patience for romantically confused heroines is scarily thin:)

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  11. Alright Jenny...have you been holding out on us? I think you have a superpower called reading like lightening!!

    I still need to read the first one!!! Geez! I do love the covers for this series.

    ~Tina

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    1. Hahahaha it just looks that way with all the reviews I've posted lately. I'm usually about 8 weeks ahead on the blog, so I read this a while ago:) And I adore these covers too, just gorgeous.

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  12. Jenny, you KNOW how I feel about this one. I share a lot of your same frustrations with the way America acted. She irritated me to no end with the constant back and forth between the guys.

    But you're so right - Maxon is the clear standout. In all reality, Aspen pales so much now I wouldn't miss him at all if he were deployed to the front lines and gone from the rest (last book) of the series.

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    1. Same. I wanted to like Aspen at the end of the last book, and was hoping we'd get to know him more in this one so I could. That wasn't the case though. He was just sort of there, I never felt like I was invested in his feelings for America, and that's in part why the triangle was so flipping frustrating for me:)

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  13. Oh no a love triangle! Not that I am really surprised because I was expecting it but I hate it when the protagonist is wishy washy about who she likes more. I already liked Maxon but after reading his novella I really fell in love with him so I have a feeling this will be a hard read for me.
    Great review!

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    1. I was expecting it too, but America (at least to me) was pretty level-headed in The Selection and not prone to game playing even though she's a player in a game, but in this book she just couldn't make up her mind and her feelings changed chapter to chapter.

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  14. Oh boo. I haven't read the first book in this series because it never really interested me too much but I have to say that it's sad that a love triangle was thrown into this one. It seems that's something that authors feel it's ok to fall back on for a storyline nowadays and it drives me bonkers! It sounds like you lost a bit of respect for America in this one because of her waffling but nice to see that you did enjoy it overall. Great review, as always, Jenny!

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    1. I did lose a bit of respect for her in this one, mostly because I thought she handled her situation in the first one so maturely. It was disappointing for me to see her ping back and forth between Aspen and Maxon in this one. Still, the story itself was fun, triangle aside, and I look forward to seeing what America does moving forward.

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  15. I liked the Selection and really enjoyed the characters, but I was very annoyed with the love triangle. I'm sad to hear that the love triangle is the focus of the sequel. Also, it doesn't seem like I'd enjoy America either.
    I might as well just skip this because I know these things would really bother.
    Fabulous review, Jenny! Thanks for your honesty! :)

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    1. It's definitely the focus Nick, the political aspects and the game playing are there, but America's romantic struggles are at the forefront for sure.

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  16. I was worried that book two was going to be a middle-of-the-road type of read. It sounds like the love triangle might get on my nerves. I am glad to hear that this series is still fun. I definitely can't wait for the TV show. :) Thanks for the great review, Jenny!

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  17. Oh those evil, EVIL love triangles. Down with the triangles, I say!

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  18. Too bad that a love triangle is introduced, those are almost always frustrating. But, the first book sounds great!

    Nice review, Jenny!

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  19. Yuck! The Love triangle in this book seals the deal. I will not read this series. I was looking forward to reading The Selection last year, then when all that ugliness erupted on GR and twitter I steered clear and I was actually reconsdering, I even saw this book in Costco yesterday. I was surprised, I thought it released tomorrow. Anyway, I just can't do another ridiculous love triangle...wait didn't I tell you that last week?

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  20. I remember your review of the first one. I wasn't wanting to read it until that review. Now with this one I'm sort of back on the fence. Love triangle? :P Game playing? :P Still might library book these just to check them out myself. Brilly review as always. Can I borrow your writing skills. I promise to give it back... eventually... ;)

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  21. I have a friend who adores these but she did warn me they weren't for me. In fact her words were this "Felicia you would break your kindle" Evidently the triangle is that bad LOL

    I do love the covers though!

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  22. I think this series has to be one of the strangest I've come across, both in terms of idea and reception. I feel like readers either LOVE this or HATE it, so I've been waiting for Book 2 to make a decision to pick this up. Although it sounds interesting, it also seems as if this book suffers from MBS - which is unfortunate. I wonder why there aren't more duologies out there actually. Anyway, wonderfully balanced review, Jenny!(:

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  23. Agh, love triangles that don't work are always so disappointing. If they aren't real, if they don't make me wonder, I really see no point.
    To be honest, I was never even tempted to read this, the concept just didn't seem like something I'd enjoy, and it doesn't seem that I'll be changing my mind anytime soon.
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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  24. I haven't had a strong urge to read this series, though I know a few people really enjoy it. I think your thoughts of this one being mediocre has me thinking that this is a series that I'll skip for now.
    Fantastic review though, I feel better about not rushing out to get the first book!

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  25. That's disappointing that the love triangle kind of rocked the boat for you with this book Jenny. I can normally deal with a love triangle, as long as it's written well, but I think some of the issues you had would stick out like a sore thumb for me too, but at least it didn't put you off completely in picking up the next book!

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  26. I haven't started the series yet, but have The Selection on my shelf. I'm not into love triangles either so I get where you're coming from. Great review.

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  27. "America is ... the epitome of a romantic pendulum ..." Gah! I tend to prefer books where romance is a subplot and so have avoided this series because that's not the case with it. (Also because of that whole controversy ...). Oh, and I'm not a fan of love triangles especially ones where one romantic interest is a clear winner compared to the other. Thanks for the review, Jenny.

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  28. Another love triangle, Jenny?!! Kill me now.

    I think I would not care for Aspen either, if he pushed her into this situation. Plus, if you never really got to know him or witness their love it's impossible to make you root for him. It just makes the situation "frustrating" as you said.

    I do LOVE that cover. I actually have a copy of this, but I don't have the first book. I think I'll wait until the last book to determine if I want to read this series. Lovely review! :)

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  29. I had so many issues with the first book, I think I'll most likely skip this one, but I might give it a go if I'm looking for some mindless fun. I think most days I'd roll my eyes at the faux drama and relationship mind games, but on the odd day when I'm craving fluff, this will do nicely :-). Thanks for your honest and thoughtful review!

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  30. Yeah, I'm going to go the lazy route and watch the TV show. The pendulum thing between the two love interest has me shuddering.

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  31. I kind of feel sorry for America. It sounds fun to be in a love triangle, but they actually suck! I just read in the comment above that there will be a tv show. That sounds kind of cool.

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  32. Aw how sad that this didn't fully work for you. I really liked The Selection for all of the reasons you said but if America becomes just like every other female lead in YA books then I'm not sure I'll love this book either.

    Thanks for the great review!

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  33. Chayse read this book and loved it. I still need to read it myself. I'm excited to see where the characters go next. But now, I'm a bit nervous.

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