The Elite by Kiera Cass

It’s been almost six years since I last read The Elite the first time. I recently decided to reread the entire series (since I didn’t have to wait at my local library to get copies). While the first book is a fun and light read, this sequel takes itself even more seriously, but doesn’t really gain any gravity or change its tone from the first book. There is a total lack of consequences in this book, which really made the plot more boring knowing that nothing bad would actually happen to any of the characters.

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

The biggest change from the first book was that this one tried to take itself much more seriously. This mostly came in the form of rising rebel tensions and frequent attacks on the castle. The attacks kept happening on the castle, which should have built tension and raised the stakes. However, since the attacks never resulted in any sort of casualty or impact to the main characters, they just became and obstruction to the main storyline about the Selection without adding anything. Plot-wise, not a lot actually happens when you really boil it all down. It definitely feels like the author ran out of events and just tried to make it to her goal word count. Once again, the writing was pretty lacking in terms of style and overall quality.

America became even more aggressive and abrasive towards her fellow Selection competitors for no apparent reason. I seriously wish there had been less pitting of women against women for no apparent reason. She became a lot more whiny and really lost a lot of her characterization from the first book. Worst of all, her indesiveness was one of the main themes of this book. The entire book she never made up her mind and constantly forgave some very unforgivable things. Her insecurities became her main trait, which really was not cute. Any humor and defiant traits she had were mostly stomped out. She found her value by comparing herself with others and by the amount of attention she received from the men around her (specifically Aspen and Maxon).

All the men in this book take a turn for the worst: where Maxon was once a redeeming and complex character just trying to deal with the power thrust upon him, here he is a complete jackass who abuses his power to manipulate women. He was needlessly cruel and too easily forgiven. Aspen got even worse from the first book with his guilt tripping of America to resume a relationship that he broke off and if they are caught in would result in physical torture and poverty. The love triangle felt very forced in this volume – Aspen was thrown in the mix sporadically with no rhyme or reason. His chemistry with America was non-existent and painfully forced.

With the lack of stakes, there was no real feelings of tension or any doubt that America would get a happy ending. Reading The Elite is kind of like riding a roller coaster with no flips: it’s fun, if not a bit boring, and definitely leaves you wanting a lot more excitement. I’ll be disappointed, but not shocked, if this series doesn’t improve by the finale. 2/5

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