Alright, so this week I have really been trying to improve my blog and make it more professional while still being pretty and fun. Sadly, that means I have to go through all of my old reviews (I have this aversion to reading old posts because they tend to make me cringe). As I was looking at some of them, I saw the need for them to be edited (as expected), and “The Elite” was one of the ones that just needed to be completely rewritten. *Sighs* I was reading over it I began to wonder just how delusional I had been to write the things that I did. The reason I am so embarrassed with that old review because my perspective has changed so much over the last year! So, here is take two of my “The Elite” review, and I hope it is far better than the first.
“The Elite” by Kiera Cass
4 out of 5 stars.
So much has changed since the Selection started a few short months ago. The most markedly changed thing in Illéa, though, is America Singer. The America back home would never have had think about whether she loved Aspen Ledger if asked, she would have just answered with a simple, but heartfelt, “Yes.” America the Five would never have even thought to daydreamed about what it would be like to talk with the Prince of Illéa, let alone have the chance to get to know him. But the biggest thing that divides America into who she was and who she is would be that she has begun to care for someone other than Aspen, someone entirely unexpected: Maxon.
Despite the changes to her perspective, America is still unsure as to who she truly loves, and neither Maxon nor Aspen are making it easy for her to choose. America is caught in the middle of these two young men and their attempts to win her heart. Half of her still belongs to Aspen and she misses what they used to have, but the other half of herself cares deeply for Maxon, too. These two young men are slowly splitting her down the middle, and America is running out of time to decide who she wants to be with.
Eventually things begin to calm down for America, and it finally seems like her heart has made its choice. But when something heartbreaking happens to someone close to America, her world is turned upside down and she wonders just what her heart was thinking. The Rebels and their constant attacks aren’t helping matters, and as secrets hidden within the King’s home begin to surface, she is starting to think that these secrets, though meant to keep Illéa safe, are doing more harm than good to it. Can America keep going on in the Selection like nothing has happened, that everything is all right when nothing actually is? And what if she and Aspen don’t work out and she is chosen in the Selection? Could she, America Singer, spend the rest of her life as a queen who has to always conceal the truth from her people? Could she justify the lies enough to live with herself?
The first thing that I noticed about “The Elite” was that it had a much darker feel than “The Selection.” I would still consider it to be in the “fluff” genre (that is a compliment from me!), but it was more serious than “The Selection” in the fact that the Rebels attacked the castle a lot more, and the dystopian backdrop played a more significant role in the story. I got to see the Castes a bit more, too, and how brutal it could be to anyone not perfectly in line with Illéa’s King. Speaking of kings…Maxon’s father, King Clarkson, was evil. You only see little glimpses of his cruel nature here and there, but at the very end of “The Elite” he fully displays just how wicked he is to his family. I was outraged with his cruelty and wondered how Queen Amberly could let go (almost) completely unchecked! Beside it being much darker, “The Elite” shifted the gears of this trilogy in a lot of different ways, one of them being the characters.
America is a totally different girl from the one that entered the Selection not so long ago. She sees things in a new light, including her feelings for both Maxon and Aspen. America has history with Aspen, but she also feels drawn to Maxon, and so she is quite conflicted in “The Elite.” This was one of the things that bothered me while I read this book; I thought it was so unfair to Maxon and Aspen, the way she went back and forth between them. It wasn’t intentional on her part, but it still happened and that made me a bit disappointed in her. Although I didn’t like it, I got where she was coming from, and that the author was creating an issue so that the character would have to overcome it eventually. It’s not okay what America did, but it makes sense in my head what she and the author were doing.
One of the things that I did like was that America remained an amazing friend; she had changed quite a bit since the Selection began, but she still had the pluck that had endeared her to me in the first book. It was that unconventional spunk to say, “No,” to doing something wrong (even when it might have helped her) that made me really admire America, and how she protected her maids without fear of the consequences. It takes courage to something right when everyone else is telling you to do something wrong.
Maxon was another character who changed a lot in “The Elite.” I adored him with every fiber of my being in “The Selection.” That book is hands down one of my favorite books, and is in my top-five favorites of 2012 for so many different reasons. Maxon was/is one of the reasons that made me love it so much. In “The Elite” he was still a good character, but I felt like I lost the sweet Maxon who had stolen my heart in “The Selection.” While I was reading this book, I had this weird feeling that I was somehow losing him, but then there would be these moments that made it seem like nothing was wrong, that nothing had changed. I loved those moments because they were the ones that reminded me of the real Maxon, but then something would happen and I would begin to wonder if I actually knew him at all. Who is the real Maxon? The one who is awkward, endearing, and sweet, or the one who just stabbed (emotionally) America in the heart? I mean, I guess I understand why he did it and everyone makes mistakes, but that is no excuse for what he did! What really kicked me in the *****, though, was that he showed ZERO remorse afterwards. He did it because he wanted to and because he could, and I think that is what made it hurt so much.
After that awful scene had come and gone, I was left brokenhearted. Would a good guy really do that to a girl he says he loves? Aspen never did that to America!!! I am wondering why I’m still in love with this character, and why I keep coming back to the abusive relationship we have together.
*Sighs* I kinda hate myself because of my weakness towards this character, but I just can’t help it!
The character I want to finish this post with is Aspen. My original review of this book now horrifies me because of how I reviewed Aspen’s character (I also cannot believe I forget to mention how Maxon had betrayed America). I am SO embarrassed that my old review even saw the light of day because I see so many things differently now than I did a year ago, especially when it comes to Aspen. I obviously hated him in the first two books, but about six months after I reviewed “The Elite” I began to simmer down; I wasn’t as wrapped in Maxon as I had been (betrayal and all), and then I got to read “The Guard” by Kiera Cass, and it completely changed my opinion of this character.
Aspen is an amazing guy. Sure, I don’t agree with certain things he did in “The Elite” that could have potentially put America in danger, but he had an amazing heart and he cared deeply for America, and I admired that. He is a really good dynamic character, and I love what he brings to the table in this series. He, quite surprisingly, turned out to be one of my favorite characters in Kiera’s books. I definitely recommend his novella, “The Guard.”
Overall, “The Elite” by Kiera Cass is a fantastic read.