Thursday, June 6, 2013

And the Claws Come Out!

In a land with a caste system that keeps people stationary and desperate to survive, what better way to calm tensions than have a Selection: a contest for girls of all castes to compete for their chance to win the heart of the Prince. In Kiera Cass's sequel The Elite, the competition has gotten stiffer and the world has gotten more dangerous. 

America isn't sure what to do anymore. She was finally admitting her feelings for Maxon before Aspen arrived at the palace as one of the guards. Seeing Aspen changed everything. All those feelings she had thought she left behind came rushing forward and she struggled with the conflicting feelings building up inside her. Meanwhile, the competition was down to only a handful of girls, and with America liked some of them, there were others she downright despised, like Celeste. Celeste knew how to push American's buttons, but more importantly, she wanted America to remember her place in the world: as a Five. As the lowest caste girl left in the competition, she wasn't the country's popular choice, but she seemed to be Maxon's.

Then something happened. When one of America's dearest friends among the selection is caught with a guard, punished severely, and banished to live life as an Eight, the lowest caste, America can't imagine how Maxon could stand by and allow a young girl to be treated like that. She begins to see the true nature of the monarchy and everything it entails. Where America once thought she could change the country from the top, now she has begun to realize there might not be any chance to change anything. The people with control might have such a dangerous and all-powerful grip on the country that a girl like America doesn't have a chance. Especially as rebels from their own country continue to break into the palace in an effort to destroy the Selection and wars across oceans threaten their very existence. 

One thing I wanted more of in The Selection was world-building. I can't say I got as much as I wanted from this sequel, but I definitely got some more background than the little amount in the first book gave me. We learned a lot about the creation of the new monarchy from generations ago and how the caste system was created, but we still don't know much about the different kinds of rebels and what they were up to. Since this books is a dystopia, it seems strange we would be able to get through two whole books without real answers about the world the story is set in. Still, I focused more on the relationships between the girls, America and Maxon, America and Aspen, and the rest of the cast. And that kept me happy throughout the book.

And usually I despise love triangles, but this one doesn't bother me, mostly because I still really, really like Maxon and don't have much interest in Aspen. You see a lot more of Aspen in this story, and you are supposed to question Maxon's position and choices in a few places, but I still really liked Maxon. Only once did I want to slap him around a little bit, but if you consider all the mixed signals America sent him and her lack of real interest in the competition, I am not sure you can completely blame the guy for trying to find a back-up plan to the princess problem. I think if things were different and he just pined after American with all her indecisiveness and wavering nonsense, he would be completely unrealistic! In fact, had I been Maxon, I would have given up on her LONG before he actually started to. 

I started reading this story during the busiest time of our school year, the bitter end. It meant I fought to find time to read, and the book took me an unusual 7-8 days to finish. Usually this destroys a book for me, but The Elite still held my attention even with the gaps in my chances to read it. I think that is a sign of a pretty good story, and I am really looking forward to the next one. I just hope we get the full story behind the world they live in because it has the potential to be incredibly interesting! 

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