For those of you who don’t know, The Selection is the first of a series set in a futuristic version of our world after World War Four. In this near future, society functions as part of a caste system, ruled over by the monarchy.
When Prince Maxon comes of age, there is a grand process where a number of eligible young women are selected as contenders to be his wife. American Singer (I know, and no the name does not get any less ridiculous when you read the book) is from a lower caste and applies to enter this competition of sorts. She is accepted against the odds and alongside the other candidates, she gets time to date the Prince.
Somehow, I’m not quite sure exactly, but she wins over Maxon’s affections. I don’t see how or why, since the only thing that America actually does in The Selection is assault Maxon and later take her servants to the royal safe house during a rebel attack on the palace.
Right at the end of the first book, her ex-boyfriend, Aspen, shows up in a very awkwardly paced ending to form a cringe-worthy love triangle. Literally, it was an extremely abrupt ending and gave no satisfying end to a book that I struggled to get through.
The series is marketed as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games and I can see why. I reviewed The Selection and in short, I thought it did not deserve the hype it was receiving. There was very little plot or conflict and all of the characters seemed very one-dimensional. However, I had hope that the series would improve, and boy was I blown away by the sequel.
The Elite continues the journey from the first book as America is one of six girls left in the process. And here there begins drama, conflict, tension, and I genuinely start to care about America. I care because she becomes an active character. She stands up for her best friend, she puts forth rebellious ideas on live TV, and she manages to become more complex in her intentions and actions. While she still makes incredibly unintelligent decisions, she does seem to develop as a character and finds a voice of her own.
There’s also more dystopian elements. We find out more about the rebels, have ideas about what they want, and questions are asked. There’s an atmospheric shift and not all is as it seems within the castle walls.
The Elite is by no means perfect. The dialogue is extremely cringey; Aspen reduces himself to nothing more than America’s plaything; Maxon refuses to send the stereotypical one-dimensional bully back home for no reason other than to convenience the plot. And yet, I actually care about the other characters – the other candidates, the servants, even the guards. I find myself curious about the rebel cause too, even if I’m questioning how bad the security of the palace can actually be.
Overall, I optimistically look forward to the third instalment and hope that the series improves from the second to third book as much as the first to second.