The Selection #2
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.
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.
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