I've been saying that I'm going to return to book reviews this year, so this is my first attempt!
The Elite by Keira Cass
This is slightly difficult to review because it's actually the second one in the trilogy, so I'm trying to talk about it without giving too much away about what happens in the first book, however, due to the fact that it's a trilogy certain things are a given.
In the first book (The Selection) we discover that there has been some sort of apocalyptic event which means the world is no longer as we know it, the USA is now Ilea and is living in a caste system. The caste your are born into dictates what your job will be and basically how wealthy you will be. We also discover that the Prince is looking for a wife, and this is basically done through some kind of Big Brother esq competition (The Selection) where one woman from each region goes to the palace and they are slowly eliminated. The woman that we are following is America, unsurprisingly due to this being a trilogy, America is still there at the beginning of the second book.
As with pretty much every teen book at the moment, we have the obligatory love triangle. We have America, Aspen (her original love from back home who broke up with her during the first book, turned up as a guard at the palace and has been confusing her ever since) and of course the Prince, Maxon. I have a major problem with the triangle, in that I can't stand Aspen, I think he's a manipulative dick. However, I haven't read the third book yet, therefore America and Aspen could live happily ever after for all I know, but I will be very disappointed if that's the case. America is very confused, about pretty much everything, she thinks she likes Maxon, and he's made it very clear that he would propose to her, however she's scared of the responsibility that comes with the crown therefore Maxon has agreed to put off asking her to marry him and sending all the other girls home while she acclimatises and works out whether she could as manage as the queen. Aspen, as I have said, broke up with America, he's a lower caste than her and decided that he wasn't good enough for her and dumped her. America, as part of the Selection has agreed that she is a virgin and that during the Selection there will be no other men. Aspen decides to show his love for her by constantly putting her in danger by being the other man that she's now allowed to have (can you tell that I don't like him?).
This book covers a lot of aspects without really actually doing much, Ilea has two sets of rebels who are against the Selection, the royals and Privilege in general. The rebels keep attacking the palace, meaning that everyone has to hide in secure rooms while the guards fend them off, but we don't really know what the rebels want, or what they hope their attacks will achieve, hopefully the third book will clear that up because to me, it's one of the most interesting aspects that's currently not being utilised to it's full extent.
This is aimed at a teen audience and consequently the writing style is not too taxing. It is however very enjoyable, and I don't remember anything jumping out at me as glaringly stupid or annoying about the writing style. It's easy to drop in and out of this book and it's not too complicated to keep track of what's going on. The only problem I really had (and more so with the Selection than the Elite) is that you're introduced to a lot of female characters at once, and apart from four or five who are kept to the centre I struggled to keep track of who was who.
There are also some lovely secondary characters, America's maids are lovely, and I would really like to see a bit more about them, we've been fed bits and bats of their back story and I hope that this is because it will become relevant in the third book and we'll learn more. Some of the other girls are interesting, some are two dimensional and are purely to serve a purpose, unfortunately this does include one of the main rivals.
I'm aware that I've across as a bit negative in this, but I did actually enjoy it. I loved the first book and whistled through it then went and bought the second one which I also enjoyed, but possibly wasn't as gripped as I had been by the first one. Having said that I finished the second one this morning and went straight on to amazon to track down the third one which hasn't been released yet, and the only reason I haven't ordered it is because the kindle edition isn't available to pre-order yet, I will do as soon as it is. It's due to be released early May so late May early June will probably see The One being reviewed.
There's a lot of teen fiction around at the moment, it's currently a very popular genre in quite varying styles, success and quality (thanks I suspect to Twilight), and this is good quality compared to a lot of what's around. It is well written, it's an interesting concept (somewhere between Hunger Games and Big Brother) and I don't actually hate the heroine (something quite rare in the current crop). The main issue I have with it is that I can't comprehend any attachment to one corner of the triangle other than familiarity, he puts her down then tells her he loves her (again, far too common at the moment). This is the 'filler' book. The Selection introduces everything and The One (book three) will wrap everything up, all this book has to do is potter along, eliminate another couple of girls and try and instil another danger to keep you interested enough to read the third which will, hopefully, tie everything up. I'm looking forward to the next book and would recommend this, but go back to the beginning and read The Selection first.