Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Elite: Kiera Cass

Rating: 5 out of 10. 2 stars.
Series: The Selection Trilogy #2 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopian Romance 
Publication Date: April 23, 2013  
Recommended For: Fans of the Bachelor (this isn't a book, but it is exactly like the show ) 
Publisher: HarperTeen 
Page Count: 323 
Format: Physical Hardcover Book lent to me by a wonderful friend

Goodreads Synopsis:
The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestseller The Selection.

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.


*I normally do not have spoilers in my reviews, but on this particular reviews, I have spoilers for "The Selection" and a few other miscellaneous ones*
*I'm really sorry I haven't been posting this week, but I have been sick and miserable, and its a miracle I've put together this review without saying, "Get me tissues" for my ever-conjested nose or "Make me hot tea" for my sore throat. On a 99.9% basis I'm a nice person, but when I'm sick I turn into all the evil Disney stepmothers combined* 


My Background: So I was in love with "The Selection" when I read it last August, but "The Elite" is a whole different story (in more ways than one). I am going to try my very hardest/best not to make this into a negative rant, but I was extremely frustrated with this book. Let's just say I would have been happier if the romance had been removed, leaving only the plot, but that isn't possible because the plot is centered around romance.

Plot 6/10:  Romance, and Characters aside, the plot was okay. Although anyone who says that the Selection Trilogy is dystopian is sorely mistaken. I admit that I did like the idea of  "The Selection" a Hunger Games-without-the-blood seeming very interesting to me, and I really wanted to see how the author would set everything up. "The Selection" was a 4 star book for me,  although I now want to change that rating to 3 stars, and it was a very good book when I read it back in August of 2013. Now my feelings about the plot itself of "The Elite" are very mixed because when reading the book, I kept saying "this romance is annoying me so much, but the plot was good" that reigned true for the first half of "The Elites", although after that point, the book became a battle between Aspen and Maxon for America's two-timing little heart. 

Without completely bashing the book, I will say that "The Elite" is a fun. A fun story. Fun concept. Fun relationships. Because there were not many eliminations, "The Elite" wasn't really needed, and although I haven't read "The One" I believe "The Selection Trilogy" could have been "The Selection Dystology". To enjoy this book, I believe one has to go into it with little or no expectations, merely thinking of it as a quick-read and an almost filler second novel.

Characters 4/10: America Singer COULD NOT STOP whining, and acting like a little brat.  She was weak, spineless, and rash, three qualities the supposedly strong female heroine in a book should have. She was too indecisive, but when it came down to the things that mattered, she made the wrong, impulsive choices. She pushed away Maxon, then wondered why he was avoiding her, all while making out with Aspen behind supply closet doors. I cannot say enough about her, and why I didn't like her. She didn't pass as helpless, far from it actually, and she didn't pass as an independent being either. The problem also associated with her character was that she was the only remaining girl in the "Fives" caste. At the same time she wasn't stooped TOO low being a six, seven, or right. This is the part where I would ramble all day. 

Maxon is a big sissy that happens to wear pants. His knowledge about his own kingdom seemed smaller than something you would get in a history textbook. He was too timid, too shy, and too nice for his own good. I couldn't feel sorry for him, although I could sort of understand where he was coming from, but not enough to actually feel like I wanted to ride in on my white stallion and save him from destroying himself.

If there was one character that I changed my mind about in "The Elite" that character would have to be Aspen. I didn't like him one bit in "The Selection" because he broke up with America, but when he became a palace guard, begged her to take him back, I thought he was horrible. In this book, we get to see other sides of him, and some of his good qualities, which include overprotectiveness, courage, spirit, and acceptance. Which is a hec of a lot more than Maxon portrayed.

*Spoiler Alert for this paragraph* My one saving grace was actually the villain of "The Elite". What we learn in "The Elite" is that Maxon's father beat his son on multiple occasions, and is a total dictator, totalitarian that thinks Maxon is as unfit to be king as a piece of raw lettuce. He was just one of those bad guys that we Fangirls/boys love to hate. We love wanting to have the main character overcome evil, and seeing them being defeated. I can't find it, but on someone's Goodreads compared Maxon's father to Uther from the five season BBC drama "Merlin". I think this is the best analogy/connection someone has made about a villain in a 'dystopian' novel. If you have seen the show, I needn't say any more. I was passionately angry about Maxon's dad and his decisions. This one character evoked so much emotion from me that should have been coming from Maxon, America, Aspen, and pretty much anybody else.

Romance 4/10: So I started out as a Maxon+America shipper, and while that fact still remains true, I like Aspen a whole lot more now. In the romance category, I flat out hated America. One moment, she was saying, "Oh my gosh I love you Maxon. You're so dreamy and kind and compassionate." The next she was saying, "How could I ever have thought about Maxon, when Aspen is the one I truly love. He knows me so well, we're destined to be together." That was LITERALLY the story. For 20 pages she likes Aspen, 20 pages she likes Maxon and all of that doesn't change or get resolved in the slightest by the end of the book. When you think about it, this books romance should have been Kiera Cass's TOP priority, making the story suspenseful, and to keep the readers guessing. We already know America is destined to be with Maxon. But what we should have been doing was asking ourselves, "What about Celeste, what about Chris, what about Marlee? Besides the main America/Aspen/ Maxon love triangle, there were the five other 'elites' fighting for the crown and Maxon's heart (although Celeste made it obvious she only wanted the crown). All things considered, I think the romance was the most ungripping, poorly-written one I have read since...I don't even know when. 

Cover 8/10: I may not think this trilogy is the best thing since sliced break, or new books, but the cover is certainly a fun thing to look at. I personally have always loved fashion, and especially elegant ball gowns I would never have an event to go to. Personally, I like the third book "The One"'s cover the best because the white makes her look like a swan...in a good way. The petal-looking details on the skirt look too much like my garage roof slats for my own taste, but is still beautiful nonetheless.

 

Title 7/10: My feelings about the title "The Elite" are...shall we say, mixed. I understand 100% how this could have been very creative if you're going with the whole Selection theme: The Selection, The Elite, The One. Yet, if they were trying to follow that trend (and although I understand the reasoning-both with the plot and grammatically-it still doesn't make sense) of the people in the selection, with the "Elites" and the "One", but wouldn't the first book have to be titled "The Selected"? I actually think that sounds better and more mysterious, but I'm leaving it open for discussion.

Feels 3/10: If he 'feels' category was based on how agitated, bothered, displeased, and exasperated I was with this story, then it would receive a whopping 10 out of 10. Although, I am sorry to say that this category is not based on negative feels. I wanted to feel emotion about this novel. I wanted to feel compassion for characters when compassion was due. Hec, I wanted to route for the guy in the oh-so-cliche love triangle.

Writing Style 2/10: Basically, this book was not written for anything other than entertainment purposes, and is not going to be on-par with Shakespeare any time soon. Everything I didn't like about America was translated through the seemingly flat, emotionless void that was her character.

Ending 7/10: The ending was one of this story's saving graces. Without spoiling it (I seem to say that every time I'm writing this category) I will admit that Kiera Cass almost had me fooled, and that the ending was somewhat of a surprise. To sum my thoughts up, I thought it was...well...the end, but there is a third book so we all need to watch out for that coming out on the 6th of May.

Quotes 2/10:  I have to say I was not impressed with the quotes in this book. The lone two-even on what I consider a non-quotable book, there's always more than three-I used when describing my annoyance with the plot and the characters, so there's really nothing to put in this category.
 
Continuation: 75% Despite the many qualities of this book I wasn't very fond of, I still want to see how Kiera Cass wraps up the plot, leaving America with the man she is obviously destined to be with *HINT* Maxon. The plot and events in it were interesting, and although the sequel was no where near my expectations, I do hope that the conclusion it better.

Conclusion: Even though I think Kiera Cass hit the horrible sophomore slump in her second novel "The Elite", some people may enjoy this book if they're just looking for a fun novel, without any thought to writing style, character development, and a good love triangle. 
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