Books,  Reviews

Book Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: March 8, 2013

America Singer is hanging in there. In a nationwide reality television program, she’s vying with girls from all over the country to win the hand of the most eligible bachelor in the world; Prince Maxon. When she was first chosen (in the first book, The Selection) she really didn’t care. With a boyfriend at home, she was completely content to stick around for a while, earn some benefits for her family and her region, and then go home. She couldn’t have cared less whether she even met Prince Maxon or not. But things have definitely changed.

The more time that America spends with Maxon, the more she realizes that he’s a lot more than just a title. Or a crown. She really likes him. She might even be in love with him. Just a little at least. And what about that boyfriend from home? Well, he’s not at home anymore. See, he signed up to join the guard and he ended up at the castle. THE castle. You know, the one that America is currently living in while she competes with all these other chicks for the prince’s attention? It sounds confusing and highly dramatic, but it’s really an engaging story that drew my attention in as neatly as the first book did and left me just as breathless at the end.

There were a few quirks and yes, I admit that there are scenes that seem lifted right from the popular YA books that are out there now. The reality is that Cass takes some ideas that are already out there and gives them such a beautiful facelift that you can’t help but be engaged in the writing. The story isn’t all candy and roses either. There are moments when America needs to confront life outside of her own myopic view, rebels, and even abuse. Throw in some catty teenage women with a lot of hormones and beautiful dresses and you have the ultimate beauty pageant with a fun twist.

Just as with the first book, I was able to read it in less than a day. (More like devour it! I do blame the lack of sleep on Cass and her storytelling. Just when I thought I could close the book and put it down for the evening there would be some twist, wrinkle, or new detail that kept me reading.) There are moments when America is annoying and really, there are a few times that I wanted to smack her upside the head and ask what she was thinking. But then again, being a teenager isn’t easy – let alone on national television with the entire country judging every action. I’d tend to doubt myself and my reality too!

What I deeply appreciate about this series is that Cass doesn’t feel the need to make it dark, violent and horrifying to get the anxiety of the situation across to the reader. Though she doesn’t shy away from the difficult aspects (Maxon’s actions toward a friend of hers when she’s broken the rules for example) she doesn’t spend chapters upon chapters detailing each horrific experience in such a way that leaves us, the reader, scarred and broken. My thirteen year old loved this book as well and I enjoy the fact that I can share it with her. We’ve had several conversations about the reality of such a life, the history that Cass built in that led to this situation and what to do when you’re confronted with a bullying situation. I enjoyed this story immensely and it gives me no endless amount of peace that I was able to hand the book to my daughter without worry about overly violent situations or terrifying scenes. It is a fun, well-told and well-written story that she really liked. (Check out the review of The Elite by Lori Twichell’s daughter, Sydney.)

My only regret is that in reading an advanced copy, I still have to wait for the next one! I hope Cass writes quickly. I’m eager to see what America (and her servants!) has up her sleeve for the next adventure.

Rated PG-13: There are a couple of scenes that are easier to explain to older kids than to tweens or older kids. Definitely stick with the PG-13 rating on this one.

                                                                    Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!

Note: This review originally appeared here at Radiant Lit.