Published: October 8th 2015 by HarperTeen
Format: Paperback, 387 pages
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America's story wasn't the only one with a happy ending ...
Before Amberly came to the palace ... She was a Four in love with a One.
Before Maxon met the girl of his dreams ... He was the boy of someone else's.
Before Aspen opened his heart to someone new ... He was determined to fight for his first love.
And before Marlee could fall for a prince ... She was swept off her feet by a guard.
Happily Ever After is a collection of all the short stories set in the world of The Selection, and it’s going to be popular with the fans.
It’s no secret that I have always loved Amberly, and I enjoyed the opportunity to get to know her in The Queen. A Four by birth, Amberly doesn’t think she will ever catch the eye of Prince Clarkson, even though it’s her greatest wish. She’s been in love with him for most of her life, and all she wants is to marry him.
Kiera Cass mentions in the preface that she’s a little afraid of Amberly seeming “foolish” in The Queen – the girl overlooks all the shortcomings in Clarkson’s character because she’s so in love with him. I think I would have appreciated Amberly’s position without the preface – Amberly’s love for Clarkson developed while she watched him on the public broadcasts, so of course it doesn’t have the realistic basis that other relationships have. But what they cultivate together during the course of her Selection is sweet despite all the warning signs and danger.
Amberly overlooks her Prince’s violent anger because he’s so pretty when he laughs. She’s able to overlook the threats he makes to the lives of others because he’s doing it to take care of her. She’s flawed, and it’s only because Clarkson is just as flawed and broken that The Queen works at all.
But it does work, admirably so, and The Queen has left me wanting to re-read the books on America’s Selection just to see how much changed between when she was a candidate and when she was watching over a new batch of girls who wanted to marry her son.
I’ve already reviewed this here.
I ended up quite liking this story. I think I understand Maxon much better now that I’ve read it. He’s cute and I loved seeing him vulnerable and without all the answers. This story made me feel like he’s a normal guy, with fears about falling in love and finding love amongst all the strange girls who have come to his home for the Selection. He’s been brought up believing that this is his one chance at finding love, so it’s quite emotional from his point-of-view.
I also enjoyed getting to see the first two interactions between Maxon and America from his eyes. I love how surprised Maxon is about everything that America says and does, and it actually made me believe in their love story in a way that the three full-length novels failed to do.
Reading The Prince again, with the added context of The Queen, made me realise just how much had changed between Amberly and Clarkson since we left them. It’s not that they’re unhappy. It’s just that they’re not as happy.
I’ve already reviewed this here.
Unlike The Prince, I don’t think I got as much out of The Guard as I’d wanted. I wanted something that made me really like Aspen, but I can’t see him as anything other than an element in America’s life that holds her back. There’s no doubt there’s a very real love between the two, but it’s gotten comfortable and I don’t think Aspen really tries any more. He’s got all these opinions about how America should be and (in my opinion) he’s missing that America’s changing and becoming something more than the fifteen-year-old girl he fell in love with.
I still don’t really understand Aspen!
Marlee’s story is really sweet and her love-story is amazing. I loved her voice and how she described Carter. Having seen him briefly through Aspen’s eyes in The Guard, I appreciated that he showed a totally different side of himself to Marlee. The expansion on Maxon’s role in their rescue and appointment at the palace was also cool.
One of the most interesting things is that we’ve now got three points of view – America’s, Aspen’s, and Marlee’s – for the whipping scene. It certainly adds another dimension to one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the entire trilogy.
Scenes from Celeste
Oh Celeste! I just want to hug her forever.
This was really short and sweet, focussed on Lucy and Aspen. I felt Lucy’s pain. But I still wish I knew more about how Aspen started falling for her. I can’t remember if it was covered in The One.
The extras include a glimpse into Maxon’s birthday after his coronation and wedding – bringing the story full circle from where it began in The Prince, a look into where some of the candidates are now, and sneak peek of The Siren.