OK-I think this is going to be a long one...fair warning but hopefully there will be some good moments :)
This sequel to The Selection had a lot I wanted it to achieve. I wanted a lot more action coming from the rebels who threaten the precarious stability of the country. I wanted America to stop mooning over Aspen and choose Maxon (or vice versa but at least to make a decision). And I wanted a lot more tension among the few remaining girls (for most of the book, there are six still vying for Maxon's hand.)
Unfortunately I do not feel that this book left me satisfied. The rebels do continue to attack possibly for a reason proposed by America but which would be too spoilery to share here. Yet it serves more as a distraction from the main event than as actually furthering the plot. America continues to waver between Prince Maxon and first love Aspen in an annoying fashion (reminded me of the love triangle in The Madman's Daughter where she thought she loved whoever she was with.) On the other hand, the drama of now six girls competing to become princess was exciting (the feelings America and the other girls experience vividly reminds me of what I've read about "The Bachelor/ette." Note: I do not watch that show but I do read tabloids cover to cover and it gets mentioned a lot.)
Still the romance had its moments. Of particular interest to me was America's musing on how although Aspen gives less, it means more because he is starting at such a disadvantage compared to Maxon's life of privilege. If you have a chance, My Friend Amy actually wrote about that back when The Selection came out. I mean, I still prefer Maxon (who is blonde to add to my swooning) and I can't just forgive Aspen for pushing America away but I am more sympathetic to him.
And I must mention some of my thoughts about the characters, in handy bullet-format:
- America must be addressed first; she continues to exasperate me and the other characters with her impetuous, idealistic, irritating, compassionate self. I love that America cares so much but sometimes the way she expresses that just drives me bonkers! Furthermore her indecision over whether she even wants to be in the competition continues to bother me, largely because of my own personality. I'm pretty decisive and if I'm in it, then I'm in it to win it.
- Maxon-we really get to look at the difficulties of being a prince while also seeing how he is trying to (slowly, subtly) change the realities of his country's situation; there is a heartbreaking moment toward the end that shows how even a prince cannot escape a bad family life (oh I just wanted to hug that boy)
- Aspen has never been a favorite of mine but he gets a bit more of a chance to present his case and I can mentally understand how hard it is to just turn off feelings but man I kind of just want him to go away.
- The other girls-America realizes that her closest friend is also her toughest competitor in a difficult moment. We also see some more about how each is doing her best to get close to Maxon.
- King Clarkson emerges as a more immediate threat than the rebels with his intimidating bullying posture that is very unbecoming of a monarch, in my opinion
- Queen Amberly and Silvia really shine here-their grace and poise under trying circumstances is most inspiring. I loved both ladies so much and wish it was appropriate that they got more page time.
- The maids: Anne, Mary, and Lucy are responsible for many small moments of humor and companionability that balance America's angst and rash decisions.
Other Opinions: Lots of conflict among my blogging buddies-some loved this installment and others loathed this book.
Beauty and the Bookshelf
Reading Under the Willow Tree
Young Adult Book Haven