The Elite by Kiera Cass
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardback: 323 pages
Release date: April 23, 2013
Series: The Selection, #2
Reviewed by: Helen
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.
Guys, I can't even begin to explain how much I loved this book. The Elite was so much more than I was expecting. Knowing it is the 2nd book in a trilogy, I admit, I had my doubts. I've never been very good friends with all the 'Book 2's out there. More than anything, I've been let down by them time and time again and left feeling as though they were placeholders for the action I really wanted to get to in Book 3.
Thankfully, the same is not so with The Elite! The Elite delivered everything I could have asked for and more. Right where we left her at the end of The Selection, America is still torn between Maxon and Aspen, and doubting her ability to lead the nation that has treated her so poorly. As with the first book, the first two-thirds of the book are mainly dedicated to setting up for the ending. It may seem slowly paced to some, but the characters really shined even more in The Elite, and made the time fly by. We get to see much more of the back-story behind the other girls still remaining in the palace, and learn more about their individual relationships with Maxon as well.
If you weren't a fan of The Selection, I could easily see how this slow and steady type of pacing might ward you off from The Elite. Personally, I love the pacing and the way that the plot seems to unwind around you without you ever really noticing until suddenly your heart is pounding and you can't bear to put the book down.
I also loved getting a bit more history on the country of Illea itself, and the people that built it. I could have done with even more information on this one - but it was enough to keep me invested and feeling like I had a good idea of how things had come about in the country's early years. We don't get a whole lot of information about why the country is constantly at war, or how things are developing on the outside, but I have some theories of my own. In the interest of not having spoilers, I'll keep them to myself for now, but I absolutely cannot wait for The One to come out so I can find out if I'm right!
There were times while reading that I was definitely frustrated with America's conflicting emotions. I kept wanting her to make a choice and be honest with everyone involved. But even still, something about this story and these characters keeps me up at night fan-girling. I completely switched teams about halfway through this book. And then about twenty pages later, I switched back… but then I came down firmly on Team Maxon. Woo! Now, if only the third book, The One could get here quickly!