Tag Archives: The Selection

The Crown by Kiera Cass

Overview

the-crown

Title: The Crown
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: “Yes?”

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Synopsis

A Selection can only have one winner.
A princess only has one heart.

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illea to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. But as events at the palace force her even further into the spotlight, Eadlyn realizes that she might no be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairy-tale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…

Thoughts

After the disappointment that was Eadlyn’s character in The Heir, The Crown COMPLETELY restored my faith in the child of Maxon and America. In the finale of this series, Eadlyn not only finds herself and a way to rule her country in her own way, but she finally gives love a chance and lets it in. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to tie off a beautiful series that really makes you believe in true love. Not only is there a happy ending, but you also get to find out how Maxon and America spend the rest of their lives.

I really enjoyed that in spite of all of the negative publicity that Eadlyn received throughout her Selection process, she not only turns this around, but also finds a way to stay true to herself in the process. Her final words on the Report show how she has finally accepted this too. It is a great reminder that no matter what we do, not everyone is going to like us or our actions. Sadly, this is even more of an issue for women, especially those who are strong and able to stand tall amongst crowds of men.

Although I had guessed at the possibility of Eadlyn’s love interest in her two stories, it was still somewhat of a surprise when his name was finally revealed. There are hints peppered throughout both The Heir and The Crown and it was still kind of surprising to have her love interest revealed in the final chapters of this story. Where America’s love story was passionate and full of twists and turns, even though you just knew that her and Maxon would eventually end up together, Eadlyn’s falling was so much more organic. It was a slow and gradual thing that spoke of their control and the ways in which they were able to build on mutual trust and understanding in their courtship.

<- The Heir Review Happily Ever After Review ->
Image source: Kiera Cass

The Heir by Kiera Cass

Overview

the-heir

Title: The Heir
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #4
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: He was followed by a boy with a drawl so thick I had to really focus to catch his words.

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Synopsis

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon – and they lived happily ever after.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her own story to end in romance – she has no interest in repeating the fairy tale. But a princess’s life is never entirely her own – and Eadlyn cannot escape her very own Selection, and one particular entry who may just capture her heart…

Thoughts

I honestly don’t think that I liked Eadlyn until the very last page of this story. She was self-centred, over-privileged and convinced that no one else is as good, or powerful as her. The vulnerability that was revealed in some of her words did help to lessen my disgust at her character, but it only lessened it. Eadlyn’s very make-up and personality screamed over-privileged, spoilt child, and after reading about America’s plight to find love in the preceding three books, it was difficult to see how she could have created such a difficult-to-like young woman.

It was incredibly fun to find out how Maxon and America’s lives together turned out twenty years after they finally managed to find their way to one another. Their four children and the legacy they built in Illea was such a sweet, tangible reality to grasp on to. The stark differences in all of them not only indicates their place within their social hierarchy, but how different siblings can be while still having that integral connection to one another. The way that Eadlyn’s brothers stand up for and support her when she is upset is admirable. However, each one of them are also able to shut her down and remind her that she is not perfect, and there is work to do.

Although Eadlyn’s inability to see through her self-centred tendencies is frustrating, I find it incredibly difficult to completely disregard her. Although she is incapable of letting people in and finds it incredibly tough to form any kind of bond with, well, anyone, she is forced to deal with a lot. Her very way of protecting her heart against harm is what actually does the most harm. Likewise, although she may be more callous, the actions that she takes in her Selection, which are very similar to those which her father performed, are greeted with far more negative responses. It is such a beautiful and stark reminder of the fact that where actions are completely acceptable for a male, it is considered horrific for a female to act in the same manner.

<- The One Review The Crown Review ->
Image source: The Selection Wiki

The Favorite by Kiera Cass

Overview

the-favorite

Title: The Favorite
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2.6
In: Happily Ever After (Kiera Cass)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: As they whipped the canes around, warming up, I averted my eyes.

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Synopsis

While America Singer’s heart was torn between Aspen and Prince Maxon, her friend Marlee knew exactly what she wanted—and paid the price.

Thoughts

Marlee and America’s relationship is what we all want in a girlfriend – somebody who sees into the very heart of ourselves and still loves us, regardless. Her punishment for falling for a guard was a GIGANTIC turning point in the series, and it was interesting to see what truly happened in Marlee’s own words. This tale also helped to show the character of Marlee, her sweetness, her faithfulness and her amazing inner strength. The willingness to do anything for love is such a noble trait that quite frankly, few people have, and for me, Marlee epitomises this in such an understated way.

Discovering what happened to Marlee and Clark before their whipping, and what hand Maxon played in it helped to further the simple beauty of their love. But, it also showed that Maxon truly tried everything to save these integral characters, and truly had no hard feelings for what many saw as a very public betrayal. The ending to the tale, and the revealing of how Marlee and America were finally able to continue living their lives together helped to seal this faith in Maxon and trust that everything eventually turned out alright for all of the characters.

<- The Guard Review The One Review ->
Image source: Epic Reads

The Guard by Kiera Cass

Overview

the-guard

Title: The Guard
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2.5
In: Happily Ever After (Kiera Cass)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: When she left, my thoughts turned back to America.

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Synopsis

Before America Singer met Prince Maxon . . .

Before she entered the Selection . . .

She was in love with a boy named Aspen Leger.

Thoughts

I found Aspen kind of difficult to love when I first met him, not that I disliked him in any way, shape or form, but I just didn’t quite love him. To be fair, it took me a while to truly fall in love with Maxon too – both men seemed to have a fair chance with America and they are both flawed enough to have made the falling for her difficult. However, The Guard helps to provide more insight into why he acted like a total and utter twerp. Well, other than being the beginning of the story and love triangle that is so integral to the series.

Although most of Aspen’s words focuses on his regret and love for America, it was his insights into the castle and King Clarkson relationship with his son that I enjoyed the most in The Guard. His abusive and underhanded nature was slowly revealed throughout the first three Selection books, but it was the overheard conversations and his horrifying actions that truly revealed this. I’m glad that I only read this short story after I finished reading The One, because it wasn’t until that point in the series that his actions truly began to make me worry not only for the overarching love story, but for America’s life itself. That’s not to say that it’s not worth reading The Guard before The One, but I enjoyed finding out how truly horrible the man was through America’s eyes.

<- The Elite Review The Favorite Review ->
Image source: Kiera Cass

The Prince by Kiera Cass

Overview

the-prince

Title: The Prince
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #0.5
In: Happily Ever After (Kiera Cass)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: Reaching toward the back of the rack he pulled out a pair of denim pants.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection…

Before Aspen broke America’s heart…

There was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life…

Thoughts

The Selection, The Elite and The One tell us the love story of America and Maxon, but all from his point of view. It was incredibly enlightening to see some of his first impressions of the Selection process and America in The Prince short story. His awareness of his father’s manipulations and his reluctance to truly trust anyone lest they hurt him helped to make more of his somewhat questionable reactions to America and their courtship more understandable and enlightening.

I always found it hard to understand why a somewhat sheltered prince like Maxon would keep America in the Selection process after their first meeting and first date. However, by enabling a porthole through which to view his ideas and how truly close he came to dismissing her, it seems far more realistic. And honestly, when I read a romance story I want it to be realistic. Blinding devotion and an inability to view the others’ flaws is all well and good in fantasy-land, but it is incredibly unrealistic, and I find it more than a little painful to read about.

<- The Queen Review The Selection Review ->
Image source: Fanpop

The Queen by Kiera Cass

Overview

the-queen

Title: The Queen
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #0.4
In: Happily Ever After (Kiera Cass)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: I took my seat in the dining hall, blushing when Clarkson winked at me.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Before America Singer’s story began, another girl came to the palace to compete for the hand of a different prince….

Don’t miss this digital original novella set in the captivating world of Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series. This prequel story takes place before the events of The Selection and is told from the point of view of Prince Maxon’s mother, Amberly. Discover a whole new Selection with this inside look at how Maxon’s parents met—and how an ordinary girl named Amberly became a beloved queen.

Thoughts

If it wasn’t for the introduction that Cass wrote at the beginning of this short story, I would find this a slightly awkward story to read. Although later in The Selection series, we realise that Clarkson is quite abusive, and even as a Prince, something was obviously not quite right about the man. Amberly’s blinding devotion to the man also sent shivers up my spine – I can’t comprehend anybody being that singularly obedient to one being.

Having said that this story gave me slight goosebumps, and not in a good way, Amberly’s innocence and sweetness did leave me feeling quite content in her character. Her ability to soothe even the tempers of Clarkson is not something to be misjudged, and it makes you wonder what could have happened if she had used this talent a little more. Although, as she was just as flawed in her own way, that probably could never have eventuated.

Cass’ use of The Queen to illustrate how two severely flawed characters can fall for each other was not only touching, but also very insightful into the different ways in which relationships can develop. Her knowledge of their past helps to inform why even to the end, Amberly loved her husband dearly and was able to sacrifice everything for him.

<- Happily Ever After Review The Prince Review ->
Image source: The Bookwhore Diaries

Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass

Overview

happily-ever-after

Title: Happily Ever After
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection Short Stories
In: Happily Ever After (Kiera Cass)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, RomanceShort story collections
Pace: Fast
Format: Collection
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2015
5th sentence, 74th page: I took my seat in the dining hall, blushing when Clarkson winked at me.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

America’s story wasn’t the only one with a happy ending…

Before Amberly came to the palace… She was a Four in love with a One.

Before Maxon met the girl of his dreams… He was the boy of someone else’s.

Before Aspen opened his heart to someone new… He was determined to fight for his first love.

And before Marlee could fall for a prince… She was swept off her feet by a guard.

Thoughts

I didn’t know what to expect out of this collection of short stories – The Selection series seemed to be pretty much complete at the end of The One. I was completely wrong though, finding out about Amberly, Maxon, Aspen and Marlee’s tales just helped to build on the intrigue and beauty of America’s love story. Their views of each other and the characters, and their histories helped me to further understand some of the actions that I found so frustrating while watching Mer fall in love.

It wasn’t only the four short stories that were in this collection, Celeste’s short reflections on key parts within their Selection process provided insight into a somewhat hard to like girl. Her insecurities and doubts actually made me like a character that I found truly hard to stomach throughout the series. Add to this a short that lets you know how Lucy fell for Aspen, and a collection of pages which tell us where each of the girls in the elite ended up, and not only was this novel a great read, but it also left me feeling even more complete and happy with America’s love story than before. Now to discover more about the daughter in The Heir

 <- The Crown Review The Queen Review ->
Image source: HarperCollins

Top 16 Books of 2016

2016 was a good year for me – I got to read a lot of books, both new and old. So here is a list of my favourite sixteen reads for this year.

falling-pomegranate-seeds16. Falling Pomegranate Seeds by Wendy J. Dunn
This is the first historical fiction that I have ever had the privilege of reading, and it has almost made me a convert. The topic is dense and heart-wrenching, but there is such a strength to the characters, that you can’t help but fall in love. The fact that Dunn used real historical figures to create her masterpiece of women’s rights, the relationships of mothers and daughters and a beautiful tale of coming of age just added to the poignancy of this tale.

skinwalker15. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter
I loved the new take on Native American skinwalkers in this story. The fact that it primarily focused on a woman of a minority culture was a great added bonus. To add to the great basis of fantasy, this story was dark and slightly twisted, but frankly honest about it’s chief protagonist – she was never painted as pure, but rather as a flawed human being.

 

Wickedly Powerful14. Wickedly Powerful by Deborah Blake
I found this series this year, and it completely changed my previously sceptical view on paranormal romance. Of the three books and five stories, this was by far my favourite. The lead Baba Yaga in this tale was far pricklier and more awkward around people than the others, and the love interest was a victim of mental illness – PTSD. This combined to create a beautiful love story with a potent message about PTSD that I cherished.

haunted13. Haunted by Kelley Armstrong
I love the Women of the Otherworld series – the heroines are not in any way, shape or form innocent and “good”. At least as books traditionally portray people. Instead they have their own challenges in life and difficulties. Eve Levine of Haunted has so far been my favourite of these characters. She is dead, but that doesn’t stop her from constantly attempting to help and guard her young daughter. This at the beginning of the story appears to be her only redeeming aspect, and as the story progresses, the true depth of her character is slowly revealed. It is a story that will make you fall in love with a flawed woman and this series again and again and again.

Raelia12. Raelia by Lynette Noni
A great sequel to the first Medoran Chronicles story, Raelia is all about the choices that we make. The storyline in this is so much more intense which is why I rated it slightly above the first book in the series, Akarnae. The ability of this story to capture my attention was immensely impressive, and I am constantly double checking what the release date for the next book in the series is.


The One11. The One by Kiera Cass
This story can make anyone believe in true love again. It is the sweetest, most charming love story I have ever read. Although, it doesn’t go over board with the sappy factor. The dystopian future setting helps to create a more fantastical and enhanced world than our own, which I thoroughly enjoyed and the creation of the caste system seriously made me question how I view and judge others. However, it is America and Maxon’s dance of romance that truly had me hooked and this story let me find out how their negotiation of love ended.

bad-blood10. Bad Blood by Lucienne Diver
I have an obsession with mythology, so any story or series that does a good job of recreating one of the ancient mythologies is going to get my attention. However, Diver’s approach to this was so completely unique that I was mesmerised from the first page. The sass and smart-mouthed attitude of the lead only added to my very quick falling for this series. As did her unique ancestry.

 

Kicking It9. Forked Tongues by Rachel Caine
This was one of the best short stories that I read this year – it combined fantasy with a strong woman and love. Not an easy combination to throw into less than one hundred pages. The image of a Cowboy Witch has stuck in my head since I read this months ago. A great, easy read to bunker down with for half hour or so.

 

 

body-double8. Body Double by Tess Gerritsen
The best crime book that I have read this year by far. Not only is it a tale of spine-tingling criminal acts, but it also investigates the nature versus nurture debates – one of my favourite intellectual discussions. Maura’s slow discovery of who she comes from and who she is highlights this, but it also reminds us that we are who we choose to be, not who other people want us to be. The strength of both Maura and Jane throughout the story is astonishing and admirable – it is so easy to imagine them walking around the streets of Boston.

night-shift7. Night Shift edited by Nalini Singh
A great way to find new authors and series is anthologies, which was partly why I bought this collection. I didn’t know that it would introduce me to one of my favourite series. Not one of these four short stories was even remotely tedious, and it was incredibly difficult to decide which author I wanted to read more of. The variety in the stories was enough that they were fascinating tales, but the underlying themes present in all of them still tied the anthology together nicely.

Queen of Shadows6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
The Throne of Glass series is such an epic tale of war, love, loss and inner strength, so any book in this series could make it onto this list. However, I loved Queen of Shadows the most because Aelin is able to truly embrace her future and role in life. She is also able to find someone who sees her for who she is and truly accept the fact. One battle in this series is finally over, but a much, much larger one is looming in the future.

black-wings5. Black Wings by Christina Henry
So much sass and blundering in this story, which is probably why I love it so much. There is something that I find so relatable about an uncoordinated heroine that makes me fall in love with a story – probably because I myself am more than a little accident prone. The use of old lore such as Gremlins and Fallen Angels was also a unique spin on a tale of paranormal fantasy.

 

lirael4. Lirael by Garth Nix
I have always felt insanely connected to the character of Lirael in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series. She doesn’t quite belong with the people she calls family, and is always an outcast. Even after she finds her true calling in life, she walks a lonely path and isn’t quite able to relate to her peers. Yet, for all of that, I don’t think that her story is a sad one, rather one about finding out who you are and how you fit in the world. And realising that not everyone is going to fit in with others very well.

on-the-prowl3. Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
I have been in love with Patricia Briggs for a long time now, but there is something about the novella Alpha and Omega that holds my attention every single time. Anna and Charles truly have love and first sight, but it has such a great twist to it. Add to that the fact that they both have some pretty serious inner demons, and it is a really sweet tale of overcoming the odds and finding that perfect fit in your life. Even if it is the last fit that you would expect.

magic-breaks2. Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews
It was so incredibly difficult to choose a favourite story in the Kate Daniels series. I’ve loved every single tale and would check the post office religiously when a new book was going to be delivered. However, I think that this is a good selection. Kate and Curran are not only battling for the children of their people, but they are also being forced to deal with the challenges of a new relationship. I got so emotionally invested in this story that I actually threw it across the room whenever it bothered me.

mine-to-possess1. Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Tales of paranormal romance are a new genre to me, and this series is a GREAT introduction. Like the Kate Daniels series, it was incredibly hard to find a favourite, but ultimately, this is the book that I found the sweetest and continue to think about. Aside from the rest of the developing Psy-Changeling drama, the story of Clay and Tally is what a lot of people dream of. Finding that one person in childhood who will always be yours – someone who is able to always understand you on an entirely different level.

So there you have it, my favourite stories from my reading list for 2016. I can’t wait to find some more great tales in the new year!

Feature image source: Now! Bali
Image 1 source: Amazon
Image 2 source: Amazon

Image 3 source: Deborah Blake
Image 4 source: Goodreads
Image 5 source: Lynette Noni
Image 6 source: Wikia
Image 7 source: Goodreads
Image 8 source: Penguin
Image 9 source: Amazon
Image 10 source: Audiobooks
Image 11 source: Live Journal
Image 12 source: Christina Henry
Image 13 source: Garth Nix
Image 14 source: Patricia Briggs
Image 15 source: Ilona Andrews
Image 16 source: Pinterest

The One by Kiera Cass

Overview

The One

Title: The One
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #3
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: “I’d like that.”

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

Thoughts

Ever get to that point in the series when you just know that it’s the book that you’ve been waiting for – the time when the hero (or heroine) is going to triumph, win their lover or finally make it home? THIS was that book for me. After reading (and falling in love with) The Selection and The Elite, I knew that The One was when all my dreams (and America’s) were going to come true. But, Cass managed to add in some great twists and turns so that you were still held in suspense.

Every single time I was sure that the story was going to end in a nice little bow, Cass threw a spanner in the works – someone was attacked, someone died, someone said something stupid. While I was reading this, it was REALLY frustrating – why couldn’t America and Maxon just end up together, happy ending, icing on the cake? There were even moments that I was like “what are you doing to me?!?!” Why can’t it just happen? But, don’t let that fool you. Every single twist and turn, every dramatic pause and spanner in the works just made the finale of this book so much more gut wrenching, deliriously joyful and tear jerking.

Those moments when Maxon’s inability to just decide, and America’s talent for putting her foot in it that I found inherently frustrating throughout just made that final chapter so breathtakingly beautiful that (I’m not ashamed to say) I wept like a baby. Yes, Maxon frustrated the hell out of me, but that final commitment, that final moment was just so gooey goodness. The very indecision that was so prevalent throughout the book made every good moment more special – which I’m sure was Cass’ goal all along. After all, why write an entire novel that has no conflict before reaching the happy ending? Boring!!!

The epic journey to find love not only had me devouring this book in less than a day – it is also one of the most realistic love stories that I’ve read in a long time. Alright, we don’t all find princes and we’re not living in some far out dystopian reality, but I don’t think that love (or a person’s love story) is ever really simple. Every couple has had battles to get to that moment of peace. And even after that commitment, I’d be surprised to find anyone who isn’t still plagued with moments of doubt and conflict – it’s human nature and life. And it’s what makes those stolen glances and moments all the more precious. At least in my case.

<- The Favorite Review The Heir Review ->
Image source: Wikia

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Overview

The Elite

Title: The Elite
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Dystopia, Easy reading, Romance
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: HarperTeen
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: I was left gasping for breath after the song, so I took a seat at one of the many tables sprinkled around the room.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

America Singer is one of THE ELITE and Prince Maxon only has eyes for her.

If she wins the competition for his heart, she will leave her pre-destined life for a world of luxury. But the outcome is less than certain; the threat of rebel violence just beyond the palace walls is escalating into war and bitter rivals are ready to take her down.

And as America’s feelings for Maxon grow stronger, ex-lover Aspen waits for her in the shadows. Where do her loyalties truly lie?

Thoughts

The next step in The Selection series, The Elite follows the final six girls in the competition. Those that are left were the obvious choices, since they featured more predominately in the first novel. However, their journey is just amazing. Even though you’re sure that America has Maxon’s heart, that Celeste is positively evil and that Aspen is going to continue fighting for her, every single twist still pulls at your heart.

I loved both the characters of Aspen and Maxon from the beginning, and America’s inability to decide between them comes to a head in this novel. It is the classically difficult decision to make between the familiar, comfortable past and the exciting, dangerous present. As you watch Maxon and America’s relationship deepen, you feel her fear and reluctance to let Aspen go. I was curled into a tight ball the entire time I read this, I was so tense about her decision. But, no spoilers here – you need to read the book to find out who she chooses!

As with The Selection, Cass doesn’t just focus on the romantic storyline, the rebellion is alluded to and introduced in the first book, but it is in The Elite that we begin to understand more about its complexities. This subplot starts to really gain traction and adds another layer of excitement and suspense to an already brilliant storyline.

<- The Selection Review The Guard Review ->
Image source: Goodreads