The Elite by Kiera Cass
Okay, so just in case I get bogged down in my feelings that something was missing from the book I want to emphasis that I did actually like it. It was very good. A little chick-flicky for my usual taste, but lovely and light and fun and as pleasant a way to spend a long bus ride as possible. Other than 50 Shades of Grey which the lady next to me was reading.
This charming little book is the sequel to the Selection, evidently to be the middle in (what I hope will be) a trilogy. It picks up where the Selection left off. In a post apocalyptic future where everyone is born into a cast which dictates their entire lives, America is among the last six girls to be eliminated from the list of potential brides for Prince Maxon and struggling with her feelings for both the Prince and her childhood sweetheart Aspen, who works as a palace guard.
There’s some really interesting stuff in there too. Maxon is a genuinely wonderful character with loads of dimensions and real characteristics and motivations and strengths and weakness and all those other things real people have. There’s a lot about the writing or rewriting of history which is pretty challenging and definitely worth talking about. Some of the secondary characters are adorable, in their secondary character capacity. Questions of duty, family, obligation, privilege and change are all thrown around.
But something wasn’t quite there for me. And I’m not even sure I can identify it. This is as close as I can get – I feel is lacking from this book is urgency and danger. Which is a hard thing to get, I know that. I mean, everyone knows that the first person narrator isn’t going to die in the middle of their series, nor is either side of the love triangle, at least not until a pivotal moment. But some books do a really good job of making you worried about that happening anyway, even though you know it probably won’t. This book just doesn’t. At no point was I legitimately concerned for the safety of any characters, even the sacrificial secondary ones (there are a lot, I’m anticipating a blood bath in the third one). I wasn’t even mildly concerned that America would get kicked out of the selection because hey, then there’s no story. The mysterious rebels who spring up, mostly to motivate the plot and who should be seen as a real risk just aren’t. They mostly around to throw America into situations when she can a) show her worth, b) bond with Maxon or c) worry about Aspen.
I feel it’s obvious what Kiera Cass wants to write about. Love triangles and being rich and nice clothes and the media. Also some issues too of course, but she’s not that interested in fights or trauma or physical danger or stuff like that. Or at least, that’s what came through for me.
Again, did like it, read it quickly and enjoyed exclaiming “why is she still with that guy?” out loud with a friend who’d also read it. I’m just a snob I guess. I want real, well written plot with my romance and dresses and love triangles. There’s nothing I can do about it. Nothing at all.
Last movie I watched: Wreck-It Ralph. Awesome, although I found Jane Lynch’s voice distracting since all I could think about was Sue Sylvester.
Last TV show I watched: Downton Abbey. Oh Mr Bates, please don’t have murdered your wife.