Published: April 23rd 2013 by HarperTeen
Format: Paperback, 326 pages
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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.
I enjoyed The Elite significantly more than The Selection because I knew what I was getting myself into this time – a love triangle with a sprinkle of dystopia and intrigue. I was still disappointed that the author didn’t choose to delve into the rebellion, however, and the lack of growth in America’s character really frustrated me.
America Singer was one of thirty-five girls chosen to to participate in a public contest to become the next Princess of Illea. It’s like ‘The Bachelor’ – Prince Maxon gets to take all the girls out on dates and they have projects and are slowly eliminated. America has made it into the top eight – The Elite. Yay America.
Ok so, firstly, it’s absolutely ridiculous to name the main character “America” if your dystopian society is set in what used to be America. Seriously.
I tend to dislike protagonists who are simpering idiots, and America fits this description all too well. She’s incredibly naive, and she consistently makes bad decisions, even when it really makes no sense for her to. I just couldn’t understand the way she was thinking most of the time.
Throughout the narrative she’s swinging like a pendulum between Prince Maxon and her ex-boyfriend Aspen. And you know, I might have liked the love triangle if Aspen ever had a chance. But the author’s made it glaringly obvious that Aspen’s not really a contender here, he’s just there to confuse America and make it seem like she could choose him, when it’s obvious that she only sees, thinks about, and loves Maxon. America can’t seem to bring herself to be honest with either guy – when she’s with one of them she conveniently forgets the other, and she’s always just hoping that if she ignores her predicament for long enough, it might go away! Maybe one of the guys will die or something and save her from making a choice?
What I loved about the book is how the author captures all the doubt and worry that a contestant on such a reality show would have. Whenever I’ve watched shows like this, I’ve always thought it must be horrible to know that the guy is hugging, kissing and whispering nice things to you, but always worry that he might be doing the same, or more, with the other contestants. I liked how America always reminded herself she didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t really blame her for believing Maxon when he lied to her about what he did with the other girls.
(We hate Maxon by the way. We hate Aspen, and Maxon, and basically every male character in the book. They don’t do too well.) I was surprised to find out how bad Maxon’s relationship with his father is. I wash;t really expecting that, and I can’t help but question the addition of this, and the thing with Marlee, as ways the author unnecessarily drives home that the society is bad, when we already know that.
I really want to know what is going on with the rebels in this world. It’s very disappointing for me that this aspect of the world has barely been expanded. I mean, it was great to find out exactly how Illea came into being, but that was nothing I hadn’t guessed before. I’m quietly hoping that the next book will explore this a lot more, but realistically I think it will more about Aspen-America-Maxon and perhaps the rebels will come in and there will be a showdown.
The Elite wasn’t a truly satisfying book for me. It’s a lighter read than what I’m used to, and I’m disappointed at the lack of action and mystery. I was (and still am) curious about how it will all turn out with the contest, so I’ll be reading The One despite my misgivings.