The second book in Kiera Cass's Selection trilogy is out! These books have a such crazy premise: Imagine if The Bachelor took place in a futuristic dystoipia with a strict numbered caste system, and the girls weren't just competing for roses--they were competing for a prince and a crown. It sounds silly, but it's so much fun. I was so excited to read The Elite; I checked our library's catalog every day between its release date and the day it finally was added to our collection. Obsessive, me? Noooooo, not at all. Hey, look over there at the distracting thing!
The Elite begins with six girls remaining in the competition. Our heroine, America Singer (yeah, the name makes me wince, too), has finally decided that she does indeed like Prince Maxon. Despite his title, he's a sweet, humble guy with an endearing sense of humor. Because duh, princes are perfect. But America still pines for Aspen, her ex-boyfriend. After America entered the Selection, Aspen joined the military. Coincidentally, he's now a palace guard, and he guards her bedroom door. Uh-oh!
Just like the first book, this novel is chock full of palace intrigue, petty catfights, and adorable dialogue between America and Maxon. But in the second installment of the series, it gets real. One of the Selected girls undergoes a shockingly brutal punishment for breaking the rules. Violent rebels break into the palace repeatedly. America ponders what it means to be a princess, and whether she is up to the challenge. And then she gets moody, because Waaaaaaah! She can't decide between Maxon and Aspen. That's the weakest part of the story. Spoilers ahead.
No, really. Spoilers ahead! Are you sure you want to keep reading?
In my mind, Maxon is the better guy by default, because Aspen sucks. Here's a newsflash, ladies: If a guy puts your life at risk, that's not romantic. Are ya with me? Aspen is reckless and selfish. He's come a long way since he was in the lowly sixth caste, but he still has a chip on his shoulder. I think he's locked in a petty ego battle, and he loves his pride more than he loves America. If he really loved her, he wouldn't arrange foolish little trysts that literally put her life in danger.
Every time America met up with Aspen in some quiet corner of the castle, I wanted to throw the book across the room and yell, "Don't do it, girl! Don't do it!" Meanwhile, good, smart Maxon sees that America isn't 100% gung-ho about him, so he's beginning to consider marrying one of the other girls. But we all know that he loved America first and loves her best, so no worries there. Yawn.
Despite the weak love triangle, I'm eager to read the next book for one huge reason: There were some tantalizing hints that outside the castle, America has become a folk hero, and at least one of the rebel factions attacking the castle reveres her. WHAT?! I hope the last book, The One, is less about the love triangle and more of a thoughtful exploration of royalty.
I hope it explores the function of people who serve as symbols in their societies. Royals are largely symbolic, and their function is ceremonial, but royalty endures. Why? In a Jungian sense, why are kings, princesses, and so on important to people? What need do they fill in a society? Why did I get misty-eyed when I watched Kate Middleton marry Prince William? And oh my God, why did one of the rebels drop into a curtsy when she saw America? I must know!! Unfortunately, I'll be waiting a while. The One doesn't come out until Spring 2014.
Have you read it? What did you think?