Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Review: The Elite

The Elite (The Selection #2)
Published By: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Page Count: 336
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher

The Elite is about a girl, America Singer, who is selected (in the first book of the series, The Selection) to be one of 35 normal girls who get to compete for the hand in marriage of Prince Maxon. It is fairly reminiscent of the Bachelor, as there are eliminations and tasks, as well as private dates with the prince. Prince Maxon is a real mystery at times. Sometimes he is swoonsome, and at other times you wonder if he’s just playing a character. America struggles with this more than anything; just when she thinks she really could give up her old life and be with him as his wife and the nation’s princess, something happens that sets her off worrying that she isn’t making the right choice again. At those times, she is further bewildered by the presence of her childhood sweetheart, Aspen. He is a guard at the palace and he wants her back. So poor old America is trapped between a rock (hard set of princely abs) and a hard (soldier hero type) place. Honestly, both options are good and bad, and it drives her crazy trying to decide. It drove me a little crazy too.

At the beginning of The Elite, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I was furious with America for being such a tease! She does like Maxon, she doesn’t... she wants to marry him, and then she thinks he is going to dump her so she retracts in on herself... but as the story pushed on, I found her quandaries more forgivable. Her main problem is trust, because she doesn’t trust herself or Maxon, and she has no sure footing apart from Aspen. I could see his Aspen’s appeal, as he represented everything she had ever known and loved about her life, but when I think about it he is actually a bit of a jerk to her. He is unquestionably in love with America, but he doesn’t lift her up and tell her that she could cope with being a princess; he wants to keep her down so she will leave the selection and be with him.

I shared America’s uncertainties about the true nature and sentiments of Maxon. He has several faces that he wears, from the quietly loving private prince, to the stony faced public one, and there is no way to tell which the true Maxon is. Just when America thinks she has finally figured it out, another twist of events happens to make her unsure... and she has to cope with the other Elite girls vying for his attention to. Celeste is a horrific individual, and I’m sure girls everywhere will recognise her character type from real life. She has a sense of self-entitlement and a total lack of concern for anyone else that makes me want to slap her, hard! I liked Kriss (apart from her name), and she seemed like a sweet girl. The others barely featured for me, as they were just a little vague. It seemed fairly obvious which ones should stay and which should go, so the rather lengthy selection process seemed unnecessary.

As much as America’s inability to decide bugged me through The Elite, once I got into the story a little deeper, I felt I understood her and I did enjoy the read. The crux of the matter, as far as I can see it, is that this series is about courage. Does America have enough self-belief to let go of her humble origins and believe that she can succeed and maybe even help her country in the future? She is not always certain, and on her down days, she is ready to give up.

America has a wonderful set of supporters who try to keep her buoyed up, in the form of her three fabulous maids. These ladies can whip up a dream dress in next to no time, and were they real, would be in great demand in the fashion industry! Marlee is also a constant balm to her edgy nerves, but she also presents a mystery because while she doesn’t seem interested in really competing for Prince Maxon’s affections, she isn’t really ready to leave either. Her character arc was crafted well and provided more food for thought, as well as drama. The rebels, both Southern and Northern, also provide drama with their surprisingly frequent raids on the palace... really their security needs beefing up!! Their motives remain unclear though which was a touch disappointing; I had hoped that at least we would find out something more meaty about them in this instalment.

All in all, The Elite is a quick read, and I flipped through the pages in a short space of time. It avoided the pitfalls possible in sequels, characters gained in depth, and I did connect emotionally with the story. It was enjoyable, slightly frustrating (for the right reasons) and has me wanting to find out what happens in the next book, currently untitled but due out in 2014.

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.


  1. I can't wait to get my hands on this... Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  2. Well, the first book in the series got a LOT of negative reviews, so I am not sure about this series. but the second book does seem a lot better.
    I also ADORE the covers and the dresses, no girl could resist these dresses!
    GREAT review,
    Your reader,

  3. I can't wait to read this one! I really loved The Selection and can't wait to continue the story. I'm excited to see more sides if Maxon. I do hope I don't get annoyed with the lack of trust. I know I'm going to be annoyed with Aspen already. He's kinda a jerk honestly. Lovely review!


  4. What I loved about The Elite is that we finally get to learn more about America as a person. Also, I know what you mean about Maxon - I liked him a lot initially but now I have no idea what to think...

    Great review!

    Lyra @ Defiantly Deviant

  5. I can't wait to learn what is next in this series!

  6. Wonderful review Jen. This series probably isn't for me because I thoroughly dislike love triangles, but it's nice to read a balanced and well-spoken review on these book. At least now I know more about what's going on in them (:

  7. Thank you all for visiting the Nest and commenting with such nice thoughts!! :D


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