Book Review: The Elite (Selection # 2)

PrintBook review # 7: The Elite by Kiera Cass
Number of pages: 336
Copy: Trade paperback
Date Published: April 23, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: Image and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPic

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.

I read the Elite a day after I read the Selection. For what it’s worth, I think the Selection was a pretty decent read, not the best YA series out there but it was still slightly addictive. The first book usually sets the mood for the next books so it is important to leave a good impression. To me, the Selection, despite not being too laudable, was able to accomplish that. Now, getting a headstart is good but maintaining or improving that sort of impression on the reader is essential and that’s where the second book comes in. I will be honest, despite my love for young adult novels and my thoughts on the Selection, The Elite was not exactly my cup of tea.

Everything negative about this book boils down to two things: the characters and the story. After reading the novel, I had difficulty remembering any clear development on the story. There are only bits and pieces that I could remember. It was forgettable. It drags on and on and quite frankly I thought the entire book seemed like a filler, except for some rare significant events here and there.

It was like sitting on this beautiful swing but having no choice but to swing linearly and slowly. What I expected was something angular, something more exciting, or just anything that would make me look forward to the last book. I didn’t like how extremely repetitive it seemed to be especially with regard to the characters’ feelings.

Now let’s look at the characters. Almost the entire novel talks about the characters’ selfishness – how America needs more time to decide the life she wants, how Maxon starts to act cautiously as she waits for America’s decision, how Aspen attempts to make America completely fall for him etc. It was a never-ending battle of indecisiveness.

To say that America’s thoughts are frustrating to read about is an understatement. There should be a limit to how confused you can get and there should be some chapter where you should somehow reflect well on your feelings. I do agree that she was confused but to be swayed so easily by either Maxon’s or Aspen’s actions made her seem too simple-minded. It’s like having this cycle in your mind: Maxon did something incredibleI love MaxonMaxon acted stupidlyDo I really love Maxon?Aspen comforted meI think I love Aspen. We were together longer after all.  It irked me to read about so little progress chapter after chapter.

As for my frustration on the other characters, I’d say it’s 50-50 for Maxon and 100 for Aspen. I liked Maxon, I really did. He was not perfect even during the first novel. He was never entirely princely and I did prefer flawed characters but his actions in the second novel were as vexing as America’s. I won’t even talk about Aspen or Celeste or the rest of the girls. The only character I liked was the queen and she was not even a major character, it’s disheartening. Well, other than these, you can also look forward to cat fights, betrayal, and what else? probably more indecisiveness, I guess.

Don’t fret. I won’t end this review with the above-mentioned comments because I don’t want it to look like a surprisingly long rant. Let me tell you what I found decent in the book.

One good thing is that there was a bit more background and revelation on the other characters – the King, the Queen, Marlee, the other girls, and even Maxon. There was an addition of conflict as the spotlight lands on another girl (who it is, I’m not telling). If the ending was certain during the first novel, this character was able to at least make that ending shaky and questionable. Lastly, despite all the drama, I think the rare significant events in the story are still something to look forward to.

I apologize if this review seemed too full of disappointments. Despite the criticism and the relatively low rating, I’m still determined to finish this series. I’ve always had issues with second books in the past but they’ve never kept me from reading until the last installment. I cannot say I have high expectations about the last book but I’m still hopeful that it will turn pleasing, if not entirely satisfying. Until then, let’s keep our fingers crossed.


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