As you may have noticed it in my review of The Selection, the first volume of the trilogy written by the talented author Kiera Cass, I really enjoyed reading the adventures of the young woman America Singer, her ex-boyfriend Aspen and the Prince Maxon.
Just a reminder - 300 years in the future, the United States have been taken over by China and become Illea, a monarchy divided into eight castes (the Twos and Threes are the top while the Eights are left out of the society and rejected by all the others). To pick up the Prince Maxon's future wife, a giant cast is organized throughout the Kingdom: thirty-five girls between 16 and 20 are selected to integrate the Selection, a kind of reality show during which the girls live in the royal palace and try to draw the Prince's attention, who will have to choose his bride-to-be.
In the first book, we follow America (and her strong personnality...) entering the palace. Even if she is still thinking of Aspen, she will attach herself to the Prince Maxon, much more vulnerable than he would let believe. But Aspen is recruited by the Royal Guard and holds a position in the palace, which leads him to see America every day.
The young woman's feelings for Maxon intensify in this second volume, The Elite, going against what remains of her love for Aspen. America is one of the six "survivors" of the Selection, alongside competitors, each more obsessed with the crown (and incidentally with the Prince) than the last.
Maxon doesn't hide he has a thing for our young heroine, but the King does not seem to like this former Five and her revolutionnary ideas very much. Threatened by the other girls, America will have to face a dilemna: does she have to tell Maxon that she shares his feelings and accept he could put an end to the Selection to marry her, or does she better leave everything there and go back with Aspen, who has always been here for her? It will only get harder and become a struggle with her own personnality for America, who will have to be strong enough to make these hard choices.
I literally devoured this second volume, as fast as the first one; the characters are still endearing (or ghastly for some others...), many unexpected events come turn the game around entirely in the palace, and above all, I wanted to know: Maxon or Aspen?
Over the course of the chapters, I went through an ocean of emotions, my heart did rollercoasters and the end of the book left me hungry for more, frustated the story ends here - for now - and maddening because I will have to wait Spring 2014 to know what is going to happen next to America. The Elite follows on from The Selection: unlike many other literary series, I found the second volume equal to the first one. Once I had closed the book, I just wanted to re-open and re-read it.
I was completely enchanted by the moments America spent with Maxon, upset when she went back to Aspen (my preference was clearly for Maxon since the first volume, I am 100% part of the "Team Maxon"). I felt like I was in the shoes of the heroine, I thought with her, wondered how she could behave, which decisions she should take...
Kiera Cass does not simply tell a story, she takes us with the characters so that we feel like we know them "IRL". Even if the end of this book was more or less what we could expect, I still can't realize that America managed to survive this entanglement of unexpected events which occur throughout the book.
Before I say too much, I am going to conclude this review by advising you - if it's not already done - to begin reading this young adults series by Kiera Cass, of which we have not heard the last!