Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Description: 323 pages, Young Adult Fiction
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.
A ‘Rebellious” Interlude
Before anything else, let me just tell you that I was head over heels in love with the cover. That aside, I honestly and unequivocally believe that this book didn’t have much else to offer (though in all fairness, I still really enjoyed it, for some mysterious reason neither you nor I can explain). Truth of the matter is, however, I was ready to rip out my own hair half of the time I spent reading this book, thoroughly exacerbated with the way America handled her feelings (which by the way, devolved into complete inconceivability). Fortunately enough, the other half of the time was spent thinking twice about my initial reactions, because both America and Maxon seemed to redeem themselves immediately after their trifling altercations. That didn’t exactly help to make me believe in what they claimed to have felt or stand for, though I was relieved enough that I wasn’t staying exasperated at their characters forever. Their conflicts felt more like catfights to me, and I still didn’t feel the criticality in subjugating the continuous rebel attacks, which were imminently growing in terms of succession. However, I did think that this book improved on the suspense, and was more of a page-flipper than the previous one, mostly because of the revelations regarding Gregory Illea and Illea itself, that America began to uncover during her stay at the palace as an Elite. I wasn’t exactly enthralled by this book as much as I would have liked, though I take comfort in the fact that it could have been worse. After all, sequels tend to send the entire series spinning into chaos. And yes, I still want to read The One.
A Constant Push And Pull
America grew painstakingly in indecision from one page to the next. I would have found it more acceptable if she had apportioned a little more distance in between herself and both Maxon and Aspen, though unbecomingly, she did neither—and then some. I still found her scenes passionate and romantic with Maxon, heartwarming and sentimental with Aspen, though I in no way approved of the fact that she practically played them both and in secret. That made it exponentially harder for me to believe that she wholeheartedly loved any one of the two, especially since she didn’t seem to think twice about acting rashly against them, or giving them next to no chance to explain themselves after they made her (for about the gazillionth time) cry her eyes out like the baby she isn’t. The number of facepalms I shared with this book was monumental. However, since I made a conscious effort to most generously seek out some form of compromise in this book, I eventually realized that by the near end of it, things were looking up in terms of the premise as a whole. The urgency that accompanied the attacks were there, and for once the characters actually got down and dirty with the rebels (in the good sort of way), got themselves hurt, took risks, and made huge sacrifices for one another. America’s relationships with her own maids and the other girls began to solidify, as well as my burning hatred for Celeste (which felt refreshing haha), and I began to believe that she was noble in ways none of real nobles could comprehend. There were twists at the end of the book that were, though predictable, really hard to wrap my mind around. I took that as a challenge, and I guess that’s great. It wasn’t enough, but at least it was something.
Meanwhile, At The Schreaves’
True to the covers, this book lacked for none when it came to the fancy parties, sumptuous meals, elaborate ball gowns, and (hallelujah) charming princes, take Maxon Schreave for example. In contrast to America, I felt his character evolve, slowly, but quite surely. I was exposed a bit more to the harsh reality that enshrouded his upbringing, and because of this, was able to better connect with him emotionally. He made imbecilic mistakes once or twice throughout the book, though unlike America, I didn’t feel the need to slap him silly for being so insensitive. He was, at times, but all his mistakes only served to peel the princely façade off him and make him seem so much more human (because that’s what he was, after all). It was almost impossibly hard not to love his character—he was gentle, sweet, and miraculously tolerant of America’s stupidity, and that was more than enough to make me buy it.
The Origin of Illea
Though I thought that the romance in this book was drawn all the way front and center, I didn’t find myself bothered by that because America made some of her best discoveries and her best decisions as she struggled to cope with her surroundings and her feelings (which was all the time, so to speak). Though America was a perpetual pain in the neck, I thought she was quite the daring contender, and grew unafraid of her previous insecurities, which to some degree, was an achievement. Though I hardly found myself agreeing with any of her half-witted remarks and opinions, I came to an epiphany that she was a teenager coping with a possible crown that came with a responsibility she wasn’t used to. In her shoes, I would probably have given up and taken Aspen with me, but the fact that she began considering Maxon’s feelings made me think less that she didn’t care. I was probably being immensely hypocritical. Though the book failed to provide depth enough for my liking, I thought that the circumstances were made more complex, and the stakes were raised marginally high, enough to make me pause and ask myself million dollar questions. And I like that in books. Though the events progressed excruciatingly slow, I found myself inexplicably enjoying it. I honestly don’t get why that is, either.
Though I still nurse a love-hate relationship with this book, I pray the next makes up for whatever lacked in this one. Because next time, I won’t be so forgiving.
What do you think? Tell me in the comments below 🙂