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.
[Full disclosure: I received a free print ARC from HaperCollins Publishing in exchange for an honest review.]
I know there are some fans out there who are pretty irate at Maxon for what he did (or didn’t do) throughout the book, but I’m more annoyed at America than Maxon. Of course she has reasons for everything she does and they make sense at the time, but if I’m mad at anyone it’s her for her occasional stupidity. Well, I wouldn’t say mad so much as slightly disappointed.
At the end of The Selection it looked like America had finally decided to choose Prince Maxon, but in The Elite Kiera Cass turns things up a notch and throws and wrench into their easy going relationship. The funny thing is, it didn’t feel contrived because the catalyst was events pretty much outside their control. Mainly, the rebels and the king. Part of the reason why I loved The Elite was that we get to see a lot more of how Maxon deals with affairs of the state and how he gets along with his father, the king. It gives his character a little more depth and the explanation for some of his out-of-character behavior at the end of the book makes sense. There were little clues all throughout the two books, but Kiera Cass’ big reveal connects all those hints together perfectly.
Compared to The Selection, I actually enjoyed The Elite more because of the focus on the characters themselves rather than the excitement of the competition. Since it’s down to only six contestants, we actually get to know the finalists a lot more. America has also matured and is really starting to consider how her feelings for Maxon may trump the terrifying prospect of being queen. She does some idiotic things at the end of the book and although they’re annoying at the time, upon reflection I can think of times when I did similar things. People don’t think everything through, so why should characters in books?
I knew we’d be able to see more of these mysterious rebels but I didn’t know they’d play such a significant role in the book. They’re always in the background, a sort of omnipresent threat hanging over the heads of everyone in the palace. Although I can’t say much without spoiling the book, let me say that because of their actions at the end of The Elite I think they’ll play an even greater part in the final book in the trilogy, The One.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.