Series: The Selection #2
Published by Harper Teen on April 23, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 7 hours 42 minutes
Note: This review will have some minor spoilers for those who haven’t read the first book in the series, The Selection.
The Selection began with thirty-five girls. Now, with the group narrowed down to the Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever--and America is still struggling to decide where her own heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen, who she always thought was the one?
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.
Reading The Elite reminds me of why I’ve never been interested in watching The Bachelorette. It reminds me of why The Hunger Games made me swear off love triangles (however temporarily). And yet I devoured The Elite. I was excited and pissed off and anxious at all the right moments. I loved The Elite (and The Selection) despite it being essentially everything I tell myself I hate.
Maybe I’ve been lying to myself?
I absolutely hate the idea of women competing for a man, lowering themselves and their own self-esteem as the volley for his affection. But that’s not exactly what’s happening in The Elite. I mean, isn’t America (the main character, from whose point of view The Elite is told) actually learning to value herself MORE because of the competition? She never believed that she could attract a prince, that she could be princess material… But now she’s considering it. No, its not the same as The Bachelorette. Plus, real friendships are being formed between some of the remaining girls. And they’re getting a real chance to be more than the number they were born with (their caste). Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t bother me?
Perhaps the reason is Maxon (the prince). He doesn’t want a woman who doesn’t love him. He knows its a competition for a crown as much as it is a competition for his affections, and he’s trying to find his match – a person who can make him happy and be happy with him. Sure it makes my blood boil that Maxon has all but said he loves America, and yet he continues to SERIOUSLY date the other girls. But I do love the doubt it creates. Can I -and America – really trust him and what he claims to feel? And some things happened in The Elite that made me really start to question my initial impressions of him. Is he REALLY good and does he REALLY want to fix things? I think so, but I’m not completely sure. It’s pure, perfect torture. And I’m devouring it.
And then there’s America. Even though it’s driving me crazy the way America can’t seem to decide between Maxon and Aspen (the boy she fell in love with before all this), she’s not some passive observer to all that’s going on, just waiting for a decision to be made for her. America is trying, SO HARD. She’s genuinely confused, and I don’t think it’s so much about the guys – I think deep down she knows which one she loves most – but about herself. What life is right for her? Life as a one or a two? Life in the limelight and able to make change (and seriously screw things up)? Or a quiet life?
That’s indecision I can put up with. I still wish she would stop already (particularly because Aspen does NOTHING for me – seriously, if you’re team Aspen, comment and tell me what I’m missing!) but I can at least deal with it. It helps that I otherwise adore her. I love how she treats people. I love that she has a moral compass and that she sticks to it, regardless of the consequences. I love that she screws up. She’s so damn real.
And then there’s just everything that’s happening BEYOND the competition in The Elite. After reading The Selection, I said it felt like a light dystopian. Now, though, I’ve started to see the dark parts of this world more clearly. We’re starting to see the corruption, power and pure evil – even though its still not DARK. Its dark enough to make me spitting mad though, which is a really good thing.
So yeah, The Elite is built around ideas I say I hate. But they’re wrapped in different packaging, with different (better) characters, and some elements that piss me off so bad I can’t book down – and I can’t wait to see what’s in store with The One. If, like me, you aren’t a fan of the bachelorette-like scenario or the love triangles, but you do like solid characters and dystopia, I’d say give it a try. You might be surprised.