Deep from the TBR pile, I’ve moved forward on The Selection series. I have put off writing this review/discussion mostly because I had a rush of books I wanted to get through, including The One and the novellas around this series. So now it’s time to go back through and re-gather my thoughts. Because I’ve finished the series as much as I’m going to at this point, there are definitely some spoilers in the discussion below.
So “The Elite”. Where to begin? This was not my favorite book in the series, but I think it was still well-balanced. Although, as a side note, I have to say the whole security at the palace is a bit lacking. Rebels are legit busting in all the time. It really made me think that a lot of the guards are on the wrong side. Anyway… continuing on.
The Elite is so named because Maxon has narrowed down his choices from the original 35 girls down to 6. Usually I think it is 8, but he chopped a bunch because he was worried about their safety and didn’t want to waste their time anymore if he didn’t see a future for them. America is struggling a bit with her feelings, which makes sense as she is a teenager. She pushes him away, they are sharp with each other, and yet she also gets jealous and wants more of his time, but then sees him spending more time with the other girls, she gets jealous again, and the cycle thus continues.
What I didn’t like, and still don’t, is that Aspen is making things difficult. He was her first love, and he broke her heart, and now he’s back in the picture as a guard and trying to win her over again like she’s hers to be won. I’m sorry. That’s just awful. He is in a position of power (true, not as high as the prince, but he is a guard with access to the whole castle), and she isn’t really consenting to having any sort of relationship with him except when he pushes it or when she is emotionally hurting because of the whole Selection process. So, yes, I don’t like Aspen. Sorry, not sorry.
I did enjoy the push and pull of the relationship between America and Maxon. I always felt like he cared about her and had her best interests at heart. This book focuses so much on the love triangle though, of which Maxon isn’t even aware he is a part of because he doesn’t know Aspen is the guy from America’s past that wrecked her heart… Maxon knows that she is trying to get over it, as he knows about him, but he doesn’t realize that he’s literally in the palace. But, even so, Maxon is wary… you can see signs of it when he notices the jar with the penny and other moments. Really though Maxon has his hands full enough with 5 others girls, his parents, and rebels breaking into the palace on the regular.
The Elite also really hit home that this is a dystopian series. Much more than The Selection, which focused on the Bachelor-esque nature more than anything.
We also learn that the northern rebels are stealing books. Lots of people have criticized this, but it actually makes SOME sense. Although you would think they’d be a little more discriminating in the books they take… not that we know which ones they are, but they are out in the open in the palace, unlike the locked away books which we know about from Maxon trusting America with a secret journal of Gregory Illea. To have books stolen means that the rebels are looking for information, and it signifies more than ever that the information is controlled by the crown. Which is true in this series. We are told that most history is passed on through orations, a verbal folklore-esque style of narrative wherein people aren’t really sure what the truth is anymore.
The southern rebels are just violently calling for an end to the Selection. Which I guess also makes sense because they want an end to the monarchy as well. As long as Maxon doesn’t get a princess, there won’t be another member of the royal family from the Schreave line. In theory.
America overall is reckless, emotional, destructive, naive, jealous, selfish, and CONFUSED. The girl is a wreck. But I loved her anyway, even when I wanted to give her a throat punch. She is incredibly loyal to Marlee, and her little sister and family, and she is in a very confusing situation. People do not have the best brought out in them by competing for a boyfriend or girlfriend that deep into a relationship (to the point of having to decide if you love them). It isn’t a regular circumstance that people are equipped to deal with, so to have it under such high stakes would be awful.
One question that lingered for me in this book was… even though I loved Maxon… what if the rebels are right to overthrow the monarchy? It’s very interesting to be on the inside of a situation that people are fighting. It’s a perspective that the Hunger Games and many other dystopian series do not approach their story from. What if Divergent was told from outside the walls, or from the leaders that were trying to hold their faction together? What if the Hunger Games were told from the position President Snow’s daughter (not that he had one) and her preparing to marry and bring joy back to the country? It makes you wonder how awful the King is that his people are revolting against their rulers. Because you don’t get a lot of reasons or time with the King in these books. Mostly just Maxon who seems well-liked, as well as his mother the Queen.
So The Elite was a necessary book to get to The One. But again, not my favorite. 3/5 Stars.