Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review of The Elite by Kiera Cass, or, Why Kate Is a Sucker For Book Boys

WARNING: If you have not read The Selection and don’t want to know anything about this series, stop reading now and read this instead.

I was left with mixed feelings upon finishing the Selection, the first in a trilogy chronicling America Singer’s adventures in a Bachelor-esque competition to win the heart of Illea’s Prince Maxon, and the issues I had with The Selection continued into The Elite.

This is how I imagine America-
clearly someone else on Tumblr does, too
I struggle with America as a main character.  She strikes me as a “taker” while the others around her all seem to be “givers.”  She describes her close friend and ex-boyfriend Aspen, for example, as havingsacrificed sleep for me, he risked getting caught out after curfew for me, he scrounged together pennies for me.”  Maxon, too, seems to understand what America needs and wants, and always provides those things (freedom to walk outside in the gardens, pants, seeing that her best friend was safe, money for her family, time to decide what she wants).  Even with one of the other competitors, Kriss, America agrees to an open conversation about their respective relationships with Maxon and after Kriss spills all and America gets her answers, America backs out, stating that she’s a private person and would really rather not discuss. That feels like a cheap, unfair move.  America always seems to get what she needs from people, but I rarely see her offering anything in return.  America is shocked, for example, three-fourths through the Elite to hear that Kriss gave Maxon a present.  The idea never occurred to America to give back.  

America is also a very rash character.  When she proposes as her philanthropy project to get rid of the castes, and is questioned how exactly she proposes to go about doing that, she replies, “Well, I don’t know. I haven’t gotten that far.”  That’s not a very solid research proposal, then, now is it?  She reveals secrets when she thinks it will best serve her, or just because she feels like it.  And while a girl’s got the right to be confused about love, it’s unfair to make promises to each man and recant at the slightest suggestion of hardship.  An indecisive, impulsive, unprepared girl does not a good wife/friend/queen make.

Yet...despite these rather critical reservations, I will definitely be tuning in for the final installment.  The reason, in a word: Maxon.  Cass really hooked me with this character- I wish the entire series could be told from his perspective.  Maxon is the character that I can sympathize with and that I am most anxious to know the fate of.  He’s a good guy who really wants to do what’s right, who is thoughtful, creative and more than any other character feels the weight of his actions. He has also undergone the greatest character development; from self-conscious “I’m so out of my league trying to figure out how to date on live TV, please can I kiss you?” to confidently self-aware “I’ve got a lot on my plate and I’m balancing it quite well, but you need to step up and quit playing games with my heart.”  Even though I’m 95% sure he and America end up together, I’ll be reading to see if America becomes deserving.

P.S.- There's talk of the CW making a TV Series based on the book!
Yay or Nay?

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