The book with the fiery red dress cover . . .
My jaunts around the blogosphere told me that few books were as hotly anticipated as this one. And few books have met with such a hot and cold reception. Some people are bitterly disappointed with The Elite. Others are raving. Interesting dichotomy of reactions.
So what did I think? That depends.
If I was rating this book as the dystopian post-apocalyptic romance, which the publisher touted it as, I would probably give it two stars. I mean come on . . . dystopian post apocalypics depend on their world-building to succeed. Kiera Cass's strength definitely does not lie in creating believable worlds. Also, apart from the caste system, what's so terrible about Illea? There are countries on Earth today with even more draconian social structures and we don't write young adult dystopian romances about them.
So what genre does this book occupy then?
Perhaps I can sum it up as follows: The Elite is a Young-Adult-Love-Triangle-Angst-Feast. That's it. And let me tell you, as Love Triangles go, this one is very good. Yes, I said it. A very good, angst-filled, love triangle in which our three heroes - America, Aspen and Maxim - all manage to behave like complete idiots, fueling much . . . angst. There, that word again.
For those who haven't followed America's exploits in book one: The Selection, let me enlighten you. America was one of thirty five girls chosen to compete for Prince Maxon's heart in a televised love 'shoot out' ala The Bachelorette TV show. Of course, Maxon falls head-over-heels in love with her. And her for him. Kinda. You see, she has a boyfriend, Aspen, who arrives at the palace as a soldier, guarding, yes, you guessed it - America. That's the background. I wish I could tell you that a whole lot more happens in The Elite, but to honest, it doesn't.
Thus far, you're probably thinking I hated this book. But that's where you'd be wrong. Once I decided not to look for any intelligence, I sat back and enjoyed the ride.
America is seventeen - an age not known for romantic discernment, a fact thoroughly exploited by Cass. America spends the entire book dithering between Aspen and Maxon. Honestly, she changes her mind like other people change their socks. One minute Aspen is all she wants. Then Maxon is her beginning and end. But then in fairness to her, both boys are hot, and she's seventeen . . . what else can you expect? I'm being cruel. Let me hasten to add that I'm a lot older than she is and I had trouble deciding if I was Team Maxon or Team Aspen. How's the poor girl supposed to decide between two good things?
America also spends a fair amount of the book deciding if she actually wants to be queen of Illea. That's a reasonable question. In answering it, we get to see more of her competition - the remaining girls in The Selection. What a bunch! It's worth reading the book just to spy on their antics. And Maxon's reactions to them. That certainly opened the book up for an interesting twist . . . Grin. (My daughter Erin was shattered by something Aspen did with one of the other girls. She has an unforgiving heart and has now slashed Maxon off her Christmas card list)
So would I recommend The Elite? Yes, if you like fluff, love triangles and teenage angst. It's definitely worth slotting in between more serious, taxing reads.
So how many stars did I give it? For a love triangle? Four bleeding hearts.
P.S. If you loved the series, you might want to check out my review of The Prince. It's written from Maxon's perspective and tells of his meting with America.