Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Elite.

The Elite
by: Kiera Cass
The Elite (The Selection, #2)

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. 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.
There is so much I need to say about this book, i's a bit overwhelming. Let's start with the obvious, this book was completely frustrating. Quite a few times I felt the need to punch Aspen or slap America across the face. But, it wasn't necessarily not enjoyable. I still love Maxon and the concept is still intriguing. So I'm finding myself torn. Is the writing great? not really. Is it entertaining? you bet.

Smart and Funny Heroine: SURE...I guess
America: Girl, get it together! America's main quality in this book is selfishness. She hardly thinks of other's feelings (particularly Maxon's) and is generally pretty naïve. This isn't always a bad thing in a character (character flaws being a vital part of creating a realistic character), but when that person keeps falling for the same things or fooling herself out of the same things over and over and over again, it gets really annoying. I will say that her expecting Maxon to let her down or betray her IS explained decently toward the end of the book, but until that point it was agony to read. She was also really jealous. This would be acceptable if she hadn't refused to make a decision between Aspen and Maxon. She shouldn't have the right to reserve them both until she has enough time to make up her precious little mind. (Another example of selfishness). Maxon had to find a second option in case America did withdraw her affection from him. It was unfair of her to assume he would just put everyone else on hold when she was being flaky and indecisive. All of that being aired out, I still find America a fairly well-developed character. She's flighty and selfish, but you know who she is. You can think of her reactions and they make sense for her character. I even found myself liking her at some points, despite being deeply irritated with her. I'm also glad that her name made at least a bit more sense in this book...a bit.

Brave and Intelligent Hero: CHECK
Aspen: Oh, prepare yourself for a rant. Because I have a LOT to say about Mr. Bighead here.  He's degrading and oftentimes rude. He discourages America for his own benefit (so that she'll want to come home) and he compliments himself about as much as he compliments her. Also NOT smart in the least, for example, How do you cheer up a girl who just saw her best friend be whipped for going on a date with a guard? Set up a date for that girl with yourself, who just so happens to be a guard. Honestly, Aspen, you are an idiot. He's egocentric, jerkish and all-around not a nice guy. For example,

"Mer, do you think I'm smart?"
"Of course."
"That's because I am. And I'm way too smart to be in love with a stupid girl. So you can drop that right now."

EVEN WHEN HE IS COMPLIMENTING HER, HE'S REALLY JUST COMPLIMENTING HIMSELF. His attitude is basically, "I deserve the PRETTIEST GIRL OF ALL...soooo, you." More often than not when Aspen was in a scene I wanted to puke my guts out all over his face. He tells her she wouldn't make a good princess just so that she'll come home and be his little wifey, not even thinking about how much of a difference she could make by taking the crown. Also, this just made me want to punch him,

"What's the assignment? Tiara designing?"

I know his lines like this were supposed to be funny, but he was just too degrading of America for me to take it seriously. And his lines that weren't degrading (though few and far between) were basically dripping with cheese and clichés.
Maxon: good, because I need to calm myself down a bit before proceeding with the review. I like that we saw a different side of him in this book. We saw him angry and frustrated and hurt. We saw his veneer of calm break and we saw him terrified of his father and yet so determined. I thought it was so lovely how if he hadn't been stuck in a hide-out room with America, he wasn't going to mention how much he had suffered to keep her safe from his father. I had my issues with him, but overall I just love his character. He's harder to figure out in this book than in the last one, but I think I like him better this way. When he said this I'm pretty sure all the scales were forever tipped in his favor,

"Is it so awful of me to want fifteen minutes of my life not to matter? To feel good? To pretend for a little while that someone loves me?"

America kept wondering if Maxon even cared that she was unhappy...OF COURSE HE DID. If he didn't care about her happiness then he would have just eliminated everyone else without even asking her to accept him. He could have done that and subjected her to a life of possible unhappiness, but he didn't. He waited for her to want him and want to be with him. I'm hoping that the last bit of this book means that there will be less back and forth with America's semi-flimsy emotions and that we'll get to some political intrigue and actually learn something about the rebels.
Good Side Characters: CHECK
Amberly: I'm glad we saw more of her in this book. She seems like a nice person and a good queen, but all of that is mostly overshadowed by her horrible husband.
Clarkson: I was expecting to see more of him and was surprised that we didn't really until the very end, but I'm hoping his new involvement will mean more of his horribleness in the last book. It was smart of Kiera Cass to actually make him the bad guy, because I always felt the books were missing some sort of villain (because if it was supposed to be Celeste, she just wasn't cutting it). Example A: How he told Natalie the news about her sister was just plain horrible.
Kriss: I really like her too and I think her and Maxon would make a great couple under different circumstances. As it stands, however, knowing how much he cares for America I feel compelled to dislike her, if only just a bit.
May: I want to see more of May, too. She's such a sweetie.
Mary, Anne, Lucy: I loved how devoted they were to America, they were friends with her. They laughed with her and believed in her as a leader.
Marlee: Let's not pretend that her secret wasn't glaringly obvious. But it did showcase just how good of a ruler Maxon is going to be. And I'm glad she got a happy ending.
The Writing: NOPE
These books aren't particularly well-written and the adjectives get a bit repetitive. I don't want to sound too harsh, but the writing along with the writing style could use some work. There were so many contradictory sentences put back-to-back so that I would find myself reading passages again to figure out which was the truth (and usually to no avail). For example,

"there was anger in his eyes...but there was no rage in him."

Little things like that threw me off and some passages were so contradictory that I didn't even bother with what America was actually trying to say.

World-building and Setting: Not really.
I saw a bit more of it in this book (with what the rebels were stealing and with the war in New Asia and Gregory Ilea's diary), but I'm not sure it's enough yet. I am going to be patient though and hold off judgment until the series comes to its conclusion. The origin of the world makes more reliable sense after reading this book, but I still find myself wanting more detail into what exactly is going on. I think that with the king's role coming into more prominence in the next book we'll get a lot of information on that front. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I also can't say that this series is without glaring plot holes, but again, I'm trying to hold off judgment and be patient like a good little reviewer. I do like that the competition got more serious. The girls still liked each other, but they were more open about their race for the crown.

"But I liked these tears."

"and that fraction of a moment that was so important to who we were would be gone."

"It wasn't some explosion; it wasn't fireworks. It was a fire, burning slowly from the inside out."

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