There was so much anticipation last year for the release of Kiera Cass’ novel, The Selection. I was super excited to read it because its concept held a lot of promise. I guess with all that anticipation and expectations welling up inside of me, it was unsurprising that I was disappointed with how Cass handled such a promising premise. Sure, I enjoyed it, but it never delved deep into anything significant or meaningful. In fact, it was a bit shallow. With my expectations leveled, I started The Elite with little hope that this story would turn into something worthy of raving about. I must admit that Cass does step up her game with The Elite, building a strong and much more intriguing world, but her main character, America, takes the hit by being a quite frustrating lead to follow.
The Elite picks up not too far from when The Selections ends. The six remaining girls are increasingly competitive, and their tasks get much more complicated. Maxon’s clear adoration for America is making her feel too comfortable with her place in the competition. She’s a sure bet. However, she still doesn’t know if she wants Maxon or Aspen. When one pisses her off or does something sweet for her, she’ll drop one for the other and vice versa. And frankly, it’s borderline pathetic how America handles these two guys. Luckily, Maxon breaks the “perfect guy” and “I will do anything for you, America” routine and gives her a good dose reality to remind her that it’s not all about her and that he’s not a pushover.
I always liked Maxon, even if I thought he was too perfect and hardly had any backbone in The Selection. But now, I love him; he’s the best character in this book. He’s stronger, smarter and overall much better developed now than he was before. As for Aspen, I still find him a bit manipulative, self-serving, and compared to Maxon, I mean… Really, America? It’s no contest.
All the while, violent threats from rebels are becoming a common occurrence. It’s because of the elevating and imminent dangers that we finally get some backstory on how Illea came to be and why it’s being run with such an unfair caste system. In addition, a true villain finally emerges in this story, and I didn’t find it as predictable as I thought it would be. Cass does a ton of world-building, totally making up for the lack of it in The Selection. In that regard, The Elite has a stronger plot, with brisk pacing that practically makes it a page-turner.
If you were disappointed by The Selection, I’m sure you’ll appreciate what Cass has done with The Elite. Is it worth raving about? Not yet. There is major improvement, but America is so hard to like in this book. Normally, I understand why a character could be giving a reader a hard time, but in America’s case, I just didn’t get the reasons for her actions. Nonetheless, if Cass keeps up with what she’s doing in terms of plot and world-building, by the next book, The Selection series may turn out to be a must-read series.
The Elite by Kiera Cass will be available wherever books are sold on April 23rd. You can pre-order the book from our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
- Publisher: Harper Teen (April 23, 2013)
- Length: 336 pages (Hardcover)
- Series: A Selection Novel #2
- Source: ARC (Provided by publisher)
- Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia, Romance
- Completed: March 2013