narfna’s #CBR5 Review #63: The Elite by Kiera Cass

PrintI could spend a long time whaling on this book. A long, long time. But I really don’t feel like ranting right now. So I’m going to try and keep this relatively short.

I read the first book in this series last year, and while I definitely thought it was underdeveloped, poorly structured, had half-baked dialogue, and characters barely past the cardboard cutout phase, it was still weirdly readable, mostly because of its whacked out pseudo Bachelor plot. Let me explain.

The world of The Selection is supposedly a ‘dystopian’ young adult romance set in the distant future where a monarchy rules what was once America, and the population is split into castes, from 1-8, each caste responsible for different types of occupations. Our main character is America Singer (Yes, really), and in the first book she was chosen as one of thirty-five young women who the prince will choose from in a televised competition to be his future Queen. And of course America made it past the first round/book and is now one of The Elite, the final seven in the competition. This seemed like a potential goldmine of ridiculous cracky fiction. Like, with that premise, there’s no way it was ever going to be anything but ridiculous . . . except Cass writes it like she wants it to be the opposite. Like we should take a world seriously where China supposedly overthrew America because of debt.

It seems obvious to me what happened with this: Cass thought of a premise for a book series that publishers and book buyers couldn’t deny was attention grabbing, but couldn’t pull off the execution of it. It’s like she couldn’t make up her mind what she wanted her books to be about so she half-assed all of it instead of committing and fully doing just one thing. Her characters perform in governmental and social systems that have no basis in reality. One second, America is like I LOVE ASPEN! (her ex-boyfriend who is now a palace guard), and the next she’s like I LOVE MAXON!!! (the prince). And literally almost the entire plot is made up of that back and forth and back and forth. Not only is it staggeringly unoriginal, it’s actually boring, which is probably the worst sin a book can commit.

The parts that don’t involve the world’s worst love triangle are completely underdeveloped, the most egregious of these being the part where America learns tragic secrets about her country and how the monarchy got founded, but Cass barely spends time on it, which makes it come off as even more unbelievable than it was going to be anyway. And then there’s the competition itself, which is basically a joke and almost entirely wastes the potential of its concept. America and the other contestants are stuck with these really weird tasks that make me feel like Cass has absolutely no idea what running a government actually looks like. America has to throw a diplomatic brunch? Or she’ll be kicked out? What? And don’t even get me started on the “rebels.”

I feel like I should give you examples but a) I returned the book to the library, b) I finished it like three weeks ago and I can’t remember all the details, and c) I feel like it’s more important that I devote my energies to sitting on the couch all day watching Orange is the New Black. Anyway, don’t bother with this series. It’s not even the good kind of bad.

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