The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection #2): Take Two!

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

 “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.

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 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.

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*Sighs* I kinda hate myself because of my weakness towards this character, but I just can’t help it!

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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.

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The One by Kiera Cass (The Selection #3)

the one kiera cass

“The One” by Kiera Cass

5 out of 5 stars.

It’s time. America is ready to fight for what she wants and she has the strength to do it, but there is so much more at stake now than just her heart in “The One.” The rebel attacks are getting so much worst, leaving more damage to the kingdom of Illéa than they could have ever anticipated. America soon begins to wonder, though, at the secrets being kept inside these palace walls, and whether it’s really the Rebels tearing apart the country or if it’s the bounty of secrets that King Clarkson holds so close? Whatever may be the cause, chaos is coming and America is going to have to be stronger than ever to fight the coming wave of violence, not only from the Rebels, but also from the King himself.

Maxon and America soon strike up an alliance with the non-violent Norther Rebels in the hopes that working together will be enough to stop the Southern Rebels from causing more bloodshed, and also break the iron fist with which Maxon’s father rules Illéa with. Can Maxon really be a good king, or is he just like his father? And can America be strong enough, not only to save herself, and the people she cares so deeply for?

“The One” was an extremely emotional book for me. “The Selection” was my favorite “fluff” book of 2012, and I was just in love with Maxon. I loved that it read like a fairy tale, but it still was substantial in the sense that it had some really cool dystopian qualities about it. It was beautiful and light, and Kiera Cass became one of my favorite authors because of  that book. “The Elite” was also a great book but I disliked where Kiera went with Maxon’s character; what he did was awful and I felt betrayed. Despite that, though, I thought that it was a great book and that Kiera Cass did a fantastic job of bringing in the rebels into the book without giving too much away.

Although I love Kiera Cass as an author, I was very wary of “The One.” I have read some really terrible series enders that have actually made me hate ALL of the books in those series, and I was so scared that I would eventually say goodbye to Kiera Cass’, who is one of my favorite authors. So when “The One” came out I was torn in two, on one side I was super excited to read Kiera’s book because she is such an amazing writer, and the other half of me was terrified that she would do to me what Tahereh Mafi did in “Ignite Me.” I was equal parts excited and anxious! But what I got with this book was something I never could have anticipated.

First off I just want to say, thank you, HarperTeen, for another absolute gorgeous cover to look at.

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It even makes Sheldon giggle, it’s so beautiful. But as most wise people say, never judge a book by its cover. I have found this saying to be true about 90% of the time. I was expecting “The One” to be a part of the 90% of books that disappoint me, but instead it turned out to be apart of the 10% that has taken my breath away. Now that we have the discussion of its cover out of the way, let’s talk about how amazing a book “The One” is.

I think that stunning is the best way to describe the plot and writing in “The One.” I am still in awe of how many things Kiera Cass dealt with in this book, and she only took three-hundred and twenty pages to do so, whereas a lot of authors I’ve read can’t do it half as good as Kiera in twice as many pages. And it makes for a non-stop roller coaster ride that leaves you breathless and wanting more. The plot was intricate and well thought out, but there wasn’t so much to keep track of that you felt the need to reread things. I also liked that she didn’t shove her own political opinions down your throat like a lot of authors I’ve read have done; believe whatever you want, it’s your freedom of choice to do so, but don’t ruin a book by shoving your opinions down your readers’ throats. You’re not going to win anyone over that way. Kiera Cass did a lovely job of stating historical fact without taking one side over the other, which was new and refreshing.

The plot of “The One” is masterfully written, and it was really cool to see how Kiera had each of the characters take part in either helping the kingdom of Illéa stand on its own two feet, or bring it to its knees. This book is so much more than a romance; it’s about doing what is right for others even when that means sacrificing your own happiness. I felt myself rooting for the people of Illéa as a whole, not just Maxon and America, or Aspen and America, and I noticed while I was reading that, although I loved the Maxon and America moments, I wasn’t focusing on that. I wanted to see the people of Illéa set free from their chains, and I think that’s what made this such and epic finale; it wasn’t about one OTP getting together, it was about a nation, a people, breaking free and finding true justice. Okay, let’s talk about a couple of the main characters in this book.

America has grown a lot as a person since she started The Selection. When first entered it, she was a brokenhearted teenage girl, and she was exactly where she didn’t want to be. But it ends up being exactly where America needed to be, not only for herself but also for the people around her.

Why I love  America so much is because she has a super strong personality (it does get her into trouble a lot, but we all make mistakes), she is a faithful friend, and even though she messes up a lot, she always tries to do the right thing in the end. She went through a lot of stuff in “The Elite” and I think that helped her grow a lot as a person, and she REALLY comes into her own in “The One.” I love what Kiera Cass did with this character! She helped America retain her sweetness, her heart, her desire for justice while still making her strong and passionate, unyielding (in a moral sense, not the “I won’t listen to wisdom” sense) and bold. America became so self-sacrificing by the end of “The One” that she began to (knowingly) risk her own happiness and safety so that people she didn’t even know could have justice. She seriously was like,

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throughout “The One,” and she never asked for anything in return. America was a true hero in this series, and I am so proud of Kiera for creating such a strong and inwardly beautiful character! Good golly I’m gonna cry again!

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Aspen was a great character in “The One.” Originally I had disliked Aspen, but after reading the first two books a couple of times and his novella, I have really come to love this character. He is strong and faithful, and I really enjoyed him as one of the main character in this series. While reading this book I wished him the best, no matter what that meant for my Maxon and America; he was, truthfully, that good of a character!

Maxon, Maxon, Maxon…I have an abusive relationship with this boy. One minute he is a perfect angel, the boy I know from “The Selection,” and then the next he goes and kisses another girl! I get that he is in a bachelor like situation, but that show has never sat well with me for that exact reason, and so, yes, I felt betrayed whenever that happened. Normally I am the kind of girl that’s like, “Stick it to the man! If he doesn’t treat you right, then he doesn’t deserve you,” but Maxon is my kryptonite . I try again and again to tell myself to stop loving him, but then he’ll do the most amazing thing, and I forget what he did to my heart a chapter ago. It’s sick and abusive, but I can’t get enough! It hurts so good!

Betrayal aside, Maxon (like America and Aspen) changes a lot in “The One”; you see  pieces of him in this book that you hadn’t been allowed to see in “The Selection” or “The Elite,” not even in his novella. As I was reading those parts (especially towards the last seventy pages), I started to cry, and I was like this the whole time.

weeps

Added to this emotional torment, Kiera took a cue from Suzanne Collins (my sister made this comparison) and she killed off quite a few characters in the last thirty-five pages. IT. WAS. A. BLOODBATH!!!!!!!!!!!! My reaction to some of the characters dying was like this:

 

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You can ask my sister, and she will confirm my statement. Want to know how I felt when a couple of my favorites got shot?

thorthis coupled with this…

screams coupled with this…

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A LOT of people died, and I was thinking, “Wow, Kiera.” Like,

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What makes this such an epic book (and Kiera an epic author), though, is not that she had enough b**** to kill a ton of people off, but that at the end of this story you felt like there was still hope. Despite all the pain and sorrow, there was hope on the horizon, that not only does life go on but it can also be beautiful again; it’s not a fairy tale ending, it’s better than that because it was real (despite the fact that it is a book). This was the third trilogy ender to ever do that for me. Cynthia Hand was the first, Veronica Rossie the second, and now Kiera Cass. She wrapped up this trilogy beautifully; all the loose ends were tied, and even after all of the pain I endure reading this book, it left me hopeful, complete, and satisfied. It didn’t end perfectly (life’s not perfect), but it ended exactly the way it needed to. This was, and is, without a doubt the most epic finale to a series/trilogy I have EVER read. It wasn’t a story about two people ending up together (despite what other people are saying. IT IS SOOOOO NOT “Twilight!”). It was a story about being selfless and brave and true. It was about sacrifice and doing what is right, standing up against evil and standing up for true justice. And THAT is why I love this book. Beautiful job, Kiera Cass. BRAVO!!!

 

This was me during and after reading “The One,”

patrick unicorn The One

I am Patrick and “The One” is the unicorn. It was literally that friggin’ awesome.

The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection #2)

the elite by kiera cass book

“The Elite” by Kiera Cass

4 out of 5 stars.

“The Elite” begins with America and Maxon enjoying a picnic outside; for America, it’s just about as perfect as you can get. But despite the fact that she has deep-seated feelings for Maxon and knows he has already chosen her, America still has feelings for her old flame, Aspen. How can you forget two of the best years of your life? You can’t, and that’s the trouble. Maxon makes her feel loved, cherished, protected, beautiful, and when he is near, Maxon is all America thinks about. But she cannot discount Aspen’s love for her and the love that still burns in her heart even after he rejected her; she also never wanted to be  princess. She could have what she always wanted with Aspen now, nothing is stopping her. Nothing but her own heart.

The decision seems to have made itself for America, and it looks like everything will be okay, better than okay, actually. But then all hell breaks loose. Everyone America thought she could trust turns out to be hiding secrets that hold many lives in the balance, quite possibly even her own life. America doesn’t know who she can trust anymore. Can she make it through the Selection as an Elite or is she doomed to fail Maxon, Aspen, and quite possibly all of Illea?

“The Elite” was a great read and Kiera Cass did not disappoint, instead she surprised me. “The Selection” is what my sisters and I classify as “fluff”. If you hear the word fluff come out of my mouth, it is not an insult; on the contrary, it is a compliment. I absolutely loved “The Selection.” I thought that it was very well written, well paced, and that Cass’ characters were not only wonderful and endearing, but also felt very real; they had emotions that were more true to human nature than the usual teen novel. I love the first one, and “The Elite” is not exception.

“The Elite” is basically about America’s struggle in choosing between Maxon and Aspen. Both love her and want her, but she just can’t decide. There are almost the same amount of pros as there are cons in each relationship. America doesn’t want to be a princess or a One, but she really likes Maxon and it is getting harder and harder to imagine her life without him; it’s almost unimaginable. But she still loves Aspen and he has always been there for her, and now that he is a Two, nothing is holding them back. I’m sure you can see her dilemma already; old love doesn’t go away all that easily, but this newfound thing with Maxon is wonderful and America wants to pursue that.

But there is more to “The Elite” than meets the eye. The rebels are getting more aggressive, more persistent in their attacks, and so many secrets are kept that America doesn’t know which way is up and which way is down; she even begins to doubt Maxon (egad!!!). Despite her turmoil, I was a little peeved with America.  Her indecision was kind of annoying in the fact that Maxon has told her MULTIPLE times that he will always choose her, she is the only one he wants and that he will give her time to choose to stay or go. Then she talks with Aspen (who is only an “s” away from what he truly is) and is confused about what she should do. Maxon and America will have these wonderful moments and she’ll promise him she’s going to stay, and then at the first sight of Aspen she goes off and kisses him. Really!! Then she gets all jealous that Maxon spends time with the other girls in the Selection. She does not have the right to judge, and on top of that, Maxon has to make a decision at the end of the Selection about who he will marry. If America backs out and leaves, the poor guy still has to marry someone even if he couldn’t have the one he truly loves. In my opinion, America played Maxon and Aspen very unfairly. She used them (not always intentionally) for her purpose, and then went to the next guy when one upset or disagreed with her. It was a little frustrating. *sighs*.

Okay, besides the America debacle, the rest of the book was really good. I was surprised at how different, though, it was from “The Selection.” I still felt connected and like all the characters were still the same people, but the book itself was much darker than the first; there was more drama in “The Elite” than just the occasional cat fight in a ballroom. Lots of crazy, awesome things happened (but I won’t spoil it) in “The Elite” that I think were very interesting. It was also well paced liked the first book, and I never felt bored even when there was down time. I am kind of excited as well as worried what Kiera will do to wrap this trilogy up. It was delightful, and now I have to be patient. Noooooooo!!!!

dogIf Maxon does not revert back to the Maxon I loved in “The Selection”, somebody better hold my poodle ’cause I’m gonna be pissed.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (The Selection #1)

the selection kiera cass

“The Selection” by Kiera Cass.

5 out of 5 stars!

This has to be one of my favorite books of 2012, and thanks to Christmas and my lovely sisters, I now own this wonderful book!!!!  One thing I will say, though, is that this book is not for everyone. I would classify it as “fluff” (in a good way) compared to the other dystopian books that have been so popular this year; that is the reason why I liked it. All summer long I had been reading gritty, harrowing tales about the future of our world, and I was weary of the same old story. So, when I picked “The Selection” up to read (once again upon the recommendation of my sister, Liz. Shout out!!!) I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Normally I don’t like “fluffy” books, but “The Selection” was just so cute and fun that I didn’t care; I loved and still love this book.

“The Selection”  begins with America Singer telling of the day she received a letter in the mail. At the age of sixteen, every young lady in the country of Illéa is eligible to enter The Selection, where each young lady has the chance to marry the prince of Illéa. Many, many years have gone by without a male heir to the throne, but the wait has finally ended with Prince Maxon’s coming of age. Now all the young ladies are after the handsome prince’s heart. All that is, except America. She has already found her true love, Aspen, and nothing will stand in the way of their happiness, maybe except for one big obstacle: their social status. She is a Five and Aspen is a Six. Though only one rank stands between them, everything is virtually in their way. When the letter of all letters arrives at the Singer home, America has no intentions to pursue the Selection, not even if she could become a One. But Mrs. Singer has other plans in mind, and so does Aspen.  With a heavy heart and by the prodding of everyone she loves (including Aspen), America enters her application for The Selection. Much to her chagrin she is accepted America has no intentions of winning the Selection or to ever fall love again, but she eventually finds herself starting to do both. Will America be able to get over Aspen and all the pain he caused her? Can she find her own life without him? Or is she doomed to remain brokenhearted and friendless in the Selection?

Maxon is the Prince of Illéa, son of the King and Queen. He is destined to rule his father’s country and protect it and its people. Yes, he can do that. The Selection on the other hand is a very different story. Ruling a country seems easier than finding someone to spend the rest of his life with that is until he meets the lovely redhead named America. After a few interesting meetings, he finds the petite, spunky girl to be kind, smart, and very funny. Although he wants more than a friendship to blossom between them, America seems to have other ideas. Could America be the one Maxon is looking for, or is he only fooling himself?

“The Selection” was great! Not only was the cover beautiful, but the story inside was great too! I loved every moment of reading this book, and I think it is in my top five favorite books. Kiera Cass has done an amazing job of creating likeable characters that feel like long-lost friends. I also really admired America; she was smart, funny, and very likeable and she stuck up for herself. She never went behind anyone’s back to be mean,  and I liked that she didn’t let the love interests trample her. So many guy characters are total dirt-bags and get away with murder practically, yet the girl normally goes along with it. She gives up her life and dreams so he can get what he wants. America never did that; she respected herself enough to choose what was right for her but not in a selfish way. I really liked that, and I think it sets a good example for young girls to be a good person, to be kind and a good friend, but to not allow people to run over them and use them. “The Selection” was great and I CANNOT wait until “The Elite” comes out!

the selection