Cass, Kiera. The Elite. New York: Harper Teen, 2013. Print.
image from: http://www.kieracass.com/books/
This is the second installment of The Selection series. America was chosen for the top six candidates to become Prince Maxon's wife, and eventual queen of Illéa. She is conflicted. Does she want the job, or does she want Aspen? It's hard to choose when both men are in the castle. As Aspen points out, "Sometimes I feel like Maxon and I are in our own version of the Selection. It's just him and me...Maxon doesn't exactly know we're competing, so he might not be able to try as hard...It's not really a fair fight either way" (Cass 210). When she's with one, she thinks he's her answer. Then the other guy shows up, and her decision is conflicted. America's maid Lucy explains love best. "You know that you've found something amazing, and you want to hold on to it forever; and every second after you have it, you fear the moment you might lose it" (Cass 62).
What will America do? We don't get the conclusion yet (May 6, 2014, is when the last book releases). But this bridge book did not disappointed. We learn much more about the royal family and what grit America really has in her.
"Love is beautiful fear" (Cass 62).
Now stuff from the story--
Maxon trusts America. He trusts her so much that he shares with her a secret library. America is intrigued. "'What do the red slashes mean?' I asked in wonder. 'Those are banned books. As far as we know, they may be the only copies that still exist in all of Illéa'" (Cass 20). As a teacher/librarian, I'm always interested in the topic of banned books. Why do we "ban" them? Is it for control? Is it really to protect ideas or protect the reader? I think the king is absolutely protecting himself (and his privilege) by keeping these old ideas locked away in the castle. I'm glad that Maxon gave America Gregory's diary to read. This book will provide a much needed perspective on Illéa's history.
Maxon surprises the Elite by allowing them to have their families come for a visit to the royal palace and celebrate Halloween, a festival that hasn't been celebrated in a long time, and one learned about through Gregory's diary. At the party, Maxon meets the families and must eliminate one girl. As it turns out, two girls are excluded (and one girl's story was quite surprising!).
We see that things are changing in Illéa. Sometimes changes have to be slow and secretive. People often do things that might seem exactly the opposite of what they are doing. (America was furious at Maxon for allowing a punishment to be carried out, but she later learns that in perspective, the punishment was not as dire as America believed it to be).
There was a rebel invasion at the castle. America escaped by climbing into a tree. She is seen and given a curtsy. Things are changing, and it seems America has the "peoples'" support.
When America needs some boost in confidence, her dad's letter does the trick. "If you want the crown, America, take it. Take it. Because it should be yours" (Cass 187). Well said, Dad!
Speaking of dads, boy, the king is surfacing as an abusive tyrant. Can't wait to see how Cass changes things in the kingdom (I hope) once Maxon becomes king. Again, May 6 is release day.