Monday, May 25, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': The Selection Series

The Selection, The Elite, The One
Kiera Cass
find it on goodreads

this is a bit different from my normal reviews, because I've combined the entire Selection Trilogy, which I've just finished, into one review. The books aren't that long and the plot doesn't have any time gaps from one book to another, so I really felt this was the best way to review this particular series! The synopsis for book one will be posted here, but under the cut there will be major spoilers for books 2 and 3, so proceed with caution!

synopsis for The Selection: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

full, spoilery series review under the cut! 

  The Selection:

I first read this first book in the series two years ago, and I was skeptical of it back then. I though the premise sounded stupid and didn't think I would be able to connect to the characters. But I did end up reading it, and I surprised myself by really actually liking it! However, I never ended up continuing on with the series, even though I bought them as they came out. It was only when The Heir came out that I felt the urge to finish this series and continue on with The Heir. So I reread this one with low-ish expectations. However, it managed to surprise me yet again.

When I read this one two years ago, I was so focused on the love triangle between America and Maxon and Aspen that I didn't even really pay attention to the amazing female characters that exist in this world. I already knew I loved Maxon, but this time I really paid attention to everyone else, and I found mysef pleasantly surprised with how much Kiera Cass uplifted the friendships between the Selected girls. Of course, there is cattiness and backstabbing, as there is bound to be in a situation like that, but really for the most part, the friendships portrayed in this novel are ones that I would want in my own life.

Honestly, I feel like there is a lot of exposition in this first novel, and that the meat of the story doesn't really get started until book 2. This first book is a lot of fluff, as the reader sees how Maxon cares for America, and, slowly, she begins to think the same way about him. This is also the beginning of the most annoying thing about this couple: their indecisiveness. Everyone always complains about this series and says how America is so annoying and can't make up her mind, etc, etc. But really, this trait is shown in both America and Maxon, though we don't really see Maxon's indecisiveness until the second and third books.

Overall, I like The Selection a lot. It is way more cheesy than the second two, which veer into more serious subjects, but it feels like the honeymoon portion of a new relationship, which is enjoyable for everyone involved.

The Elite

This is my least favorite of the three. Honestly, I don't feel like a whole lot happened in this book, and I was so nervous and frustrated through most of it, that I just flew through trying to get it over with.

It is in this book that I got the most annoyed with America and Maxon's relationship. After the fiasco with Marlee and her caning, their relationship is forever changed. Even though I admired America's devotion to her friend, not caring the consequences of her actions, it just served to drive an unnecessary wedge between America and Maxon. I was frustrated because 1) America should have known that Maxon would never want anything like that to happen, and that he would never be so cruel to someone who didn't even commit a crime, and 2) America was asking for Maxon's trust, to wait for her to become comfortable with the idea of becoming the princess, but she couldn't extend a modicum of trust back towards Maxon. For his part, Maxon was a pretty poor communicator throughout the series as well, and I felt that lots of problems could've been solved if the two of them had been more open with each other.

I felt like, for the most part, this book centered around America's inner monologue, weighing the pros and cons of being with Maxon or being with Aspen, being the princess or just being a normal girl, loving Maxon or loving Aspen, and frankly, I just got quite tired of it. Things picked back up in book three for me.

The One 

I think I liked this one the best out of the three, for a couple of reasons. One of them was the fact that, by this point, America has pretty much realized how unfair she is being to Aspen, and moves on to care only for Maxon. Which saves us a lot of headaches in this novel. Another is because of the added aspect of the Northern rebels being actually good people, willing to help and support Maxon's reign, instead of the evil king Clarkson. Yet another was, again, the female friendships took center stage in this novel. America and the Italian Princess, Georgia, her sisters, the other three girls left in the competition, her maids and queen. She is surrounded by a lot of amazing women, and she fully realizes it in this novel.

This was the most serious of the three, with its multiple deaths and many more close calls, but I think that made all the characters act a lot more mature than they did in the other two novels. Maxon and America especially had to grow up a lot in this installment, making huge decisions that would affect the future of their country and all the people in it. Though the parts with the rebels sometimes felt a little squished together, they were the parts that really rounded out the inner strength of these two characters, and I liked them for it.

I felt the ending was a little bit rushed, but it also was probably my favorite part of the entire series. From the events leading up to the part where America's father dies to the end, I loved every single second of these pages. Maxon really amped up his pursuit of America, and they both finally let down all of the walls that had been keeping each other out. Even when Maxon found out about Aspen, I was relieved, because that had been something that was hanging over their relationship for three books. I loved that Lucy and Aspen ended up together, and that Marlee got to be in America's wedding. The letters that Maxon gave America were so sweet, and it was terribly romantic when he told her that his heart was only hers to break at the end. I liked the romantic aspect tied in with the tragic at the end.

I honestly can't wait to move on to The Heir, which is about Maxon and America's daughter, in her own Selection. Though the second book was trying at times, the third one redeemed the entire series for me.

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