Yes I’ve read them all, including the novellas, but for this review I’ll be sticking to the five main novels.
Let’s start with the first three novels revolving around America Singer, The Selection, The Elite, and The One.
For anyone looking for a good post – war, world of the future series to get them through their Hunger Games withdrawal, these three novels may just be it. Unless it’s the murder aspect of Suzanne Collins’ books that interests you… I’d suggest reading The Maze Runner series.
Kiera Cass’ books take the competition portion and the poor class uprisings of The Hunger Games and mix it with the fairytale love of a royal, with a dash of The Bachelor for good measure. The conflict that emerges with the caste system provides enough action to keep you entertained when the televised dates and royal dinners lose their magic. Cass was able to balance her book quite successfully, giving us just enough romantic competition and rebel uprisings. These attacks on the castle give both America and Prince Maxon a chance to prove why they both belong on the throne, respectfully together and on their own merits. The politics, the backstabbing, and the moments of suspense and violence made this more than just a YA novel about a girl choosing between two boys, and a boy choosing between thirty five girls.
The characterization of America is quite beautiful. I liked the fact that she was flawed, and she didn’t lose herself during the selection process. She wears her emotions on her sleeve, and she isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s smart and considerate, and her ability to make girl friends in an impossible situation is touching (America and Marlee are just adorable, and her relationship with her maids is noteworthy as well). How can you not like a girl who stands up for the little guy? Especially when facing the rich and the royal!
Maxon is a sweet character as well. You can’t help but pity him under the circumstances, especially since he has to train to be King at the same time as the selection process. He’s not perfect, which makes him human. Makes me wonder what Prince William and Prince Harry are like out of the spotlight…
I also really enjoyed that Cass devoted some time to shaping some of the other selection ladies. Their stories ran deeper than just jewels, dresses and a tiara…
Although, I would love to see those dresses in real life! My imagination ran wild with every dance and dinner. I just wanted to pull out a pencil, some paper and some colour to make a couple renderings. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I’d have to put the book down.
So definitely read the first three novels in this series! Enjoy getting lost, Book Babies!
On to the fourth and fifth book, starring America’s daughter, Eadlyn.
The Heir and The Crown
I felt obligated to finish the series after loving the first three, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t excited about them. I was hoping it would be just as good, but sadly I was let down.
Without the caste systems, there isn’t much to focus on besides the new selection. There’s subtle reference to the backlash of abolishing the castes, but it isn’t enough to prompt anything besides a food fight during a parade and some snarky remarks from a boy who is trying to weasel his way into the people’s hearts. Without any dramatic politics, you’re forced to accept that it’s nothing more than a romance novel, which isn’t what you entirely signed up for after reading America’s dynamic tale.
I will admit that I enjoy Eadlyn almost 100% of the time… let’s give her a solid 85%. I liked the fact that she was stubborn, independent, strong, and opinionated, but still feminine and loving. The walls that she put up are understandable since she is the first female heir to take the throne after her parents changed the law; she feels like she has a lot to prove to measure up to a man. I’m pro-feminist on this, knowing that girls are just as strong, and half the time stronger, than guys. We’re all equal, but in thus fantasy world Eadlyn still has to prove it. The thing that I didn’t like about this was the way she sometimes handled things. She was constantly acting like a child when she tried to win over the people, chanting various sayings on loop, such as:
Do they like me yet? How about now? Do they like me? Do they? Do they? DO THEY? !?!?!?
Needless to say, it got old real fast. It was reminiscent of a child tugging on mommy’s dress saying:
Did you see that? Are you watching? Watch me, mommy! Watch me go! Did you see? Did ya? Did ya? DID YA?
I also didn’t like Eadlyn’s I’m better than you mantra. I wanted her to be strong, but not arrogant.
I don’t think the story worked as well as a Bachelorette style read, with 35 boys instead of girl contestants. Using the selection to distract the people was also a weird idea when you’re trying to portray a strong, independent female lead. Apparently she can only be queen if she has a prince consort to assist her.
Sadly, the 35 boys are far less amusing and dynamic than the 35 girls in the first series. I did find it funny how fast she dropped the first dozen or so, but its not like that gave us more time with the favourites. The elite were predictable and boring to say the least. This is probably why The Bachelor is more popular than The Bachelorette.
The drama that concludes The Heir is sort of… well, meh. Another reason why the politics are necessary.
I won’t give away who she chooses (because we all know she had to pick someone to satisfy the romantic plot), but I will say that their romance wasn’t as captivating and believable as America and Maxon. Everything just felt rushed at the end of the second book, so I had no time to enjoy their moments together. I honestly wish the book ended differently, where she chooses no one and makes the people accept her some other way. I lost so much respect for her the moment she abandoned her independence to marry the boy she’s loved for what felt like a day, all to put a prince consort on the throne and win over the people. I know she claims it’s for love, but it doesn’t really feel like it. If she picked no one and stuck to her convictions, I would have applauded her bravery. It could have been a more dramatic, less Disney-fied version of Merida. Or if Cass’ had to give Eadlyn a suitor, she could have ended the selection without a proposal and just said that they wanted to explore their relationship further beforehand. For now, she would focus on being their Queen.
It was cute how Cass used the opening line of The Heir in the finale of The Crown. Seven minutes really can change everything.
All in all, I would encourage those who enjoyed the first series to read the second if only to satisfy your curiosity . The obvious flaws don’t take away from the few hours of entertainment it provides. If anything, it gives you another lovely chance to watch America and Maxon continue their romance into adulthood. They’re as cute as ever; their moments together were actually some of my favourite! You also get a few more chances to design the beautiful gowns worn in the story… so that’s a plus!
I hope you enjoy this magical series, Book Babies!