The Elite by Kiera Cass is the second book in The Selection series. Therefore, it goes without saying that MAJOR SPOILERS for The Selection, book 1 in the series, will be found in this review. I have not reviewed The Selection, and I read it too long ago to do a complete review now, but I will summarize it below. DO NOT read this review if you have not read The Selection!!
The setting for this series is post-apocalyptic southwest United States, specifically Los Angeles. World War Four has passed, and a new system of government is in place, which includes a royal family and an inescapable caste system. America is a young woman whose family belongs to the artist caste, one of the lowest, and her talents lie in song and violin playing. America is randomly selected to participate in The Selection. During the Selection, a group of 35 eligible young women are invited to the royal palace and eventually one of them will be chosen to marry Prince Maxon and become the new queen. Initially, America does not want to be part of the Selection, wanting to stay with her childhood sweetheart Aspen (who also happens to be a caste below her). Eventually, America realizes Prince Maxon might not be so bad after all, and feels like she may have the opportunity to change things for the better if she stays part of the Selection.
In The Elite, America has made it to the final group of eight in the quest to win Prince Maxon’s love and become queen. After several weeks and plenty of inner conflict, America has found herself falling in love with Prince Maxon. Even though America’s former love Aspen has joined the palace guard to be close to America, she is still on the cusp of deciding to tell Maxon she loves him and is willing to become his queen. Mere moments after America makes the life-altering decision to stay with Maxon, and thinks to herself nothing could possibly change the way she feels, everything changes.
True confession time: there are few things I hate more than books, whether they be YA or adult, in which the plot is centered around a girl trying to decide between two near-perfect boys. The worst part of these stories is not just that the girl can’t make a decision and strings along two unsuspecting boys, but that the boys let her. Alright, so Maxon doesn’t know about Aspen–but he continually tells America she can have “more time” and he will wait for her because she is just so wonderful in every way. (*gags* – sorry but come on!) Aspen DOES know about the competition with Maxon, but rather than tell America he’s going to take his gorgeous looks and fabulous charm elsewhere, he also chooses to wait for her because, again, she is just soooooo amazing. This plot device doesn’t say much about the girls OR the boys in series like these.
Luckily, there is just enough “extra” in this series that I can tolerate the silly love triangle. In The Selection, the author teased us with information about the history of the world the characters are living in. The history of the caste system and how the US went from democracy to monarchy are what really interest me about this novel, and who are the North and South Rebels that keep being mentioned? We moved closer to the answers to these questions in The Elite, and the story became a bit more interesting. I have the impression the next novel, The One, will bring us more about the Rebels and the former rulers.
I give this novel 3 stars out of 5, and recommend it to fans of YA, dystopian literature that includes a slightly-sappy love story.