manda's Reviews > The Elite

The Elite by Kiera Cass
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it was ok
bookshelves: only-if-its-free-baby, coulda-been-worse, romance, young-adult

24 Apr. '13
Bad news: I didn't like it
Good news: I finished it in one day to relieve me of my boredom at work
Better news: I liked it more than The Selection. Or maybe that's simply because I knew what to expect, so my hopes weren't high to begin with?



Still want that tiara.

I've full on ranted discussed about characterization in my review of the first book, and since the special cookie that is America still suffers from the same problems, I won't be going into characterization in this review. If anyone wants to know every little problem I had with America, I will just direct you to my first review.

I'll get the good stuff out of the way first, before I bag this book to the gutters:

1) Purely as a romance, this book was alright .
Kiera Cass ought to stick to writing YA romance. Keep the dystopia / politics / other-elements-that-require-cohesive-and-logical-world-building to the pros, alrighty? Or at least ... I don't know ... plan it out a little better? I'll get to that later.
Cass can really get me sucked in and riled up about the romantic tension in her book. This was not true for The Selection, but some bits really did get to me in The Elite.
For instance, what America caught Maxon doing -- and ended up forgiving him for? -- that pissed me off. I actually found myself screaming in my head, what an asshole! jerk! Pick up your bags and leave, America! Right now!

2) America was actually a slightly better character .
I still didn't like her, but at least she grew a pair. I would have at least waited until the Queen was out of the room, or chosen a less physical way to stand up for her beliefs, but the bottom line is, at least she wasn't such a doormat this time.

And I think those were the only redeeming qualities I could find.



Well, those two and the fan art. (view spoiler)

But now, on to the ugly.

What really lost this for me was one of the things I briefly mentioned in my review of the first book: The Worldbuilding .

It seems Cass did not learn from her previous book. In fact, having found some measure of success from it, she follows the same formula. I assure you, nothing is different.

The rebel attacks is one such example. I think in this book there were about ... three? four? attacks to the palace. All of them within close timing to one another. Even America notes this herself--
How was it possible that rebels had gotten into the palace two days in a row? Two days in a row! Had things gotten so much worse on the outside since the Selection had begun?

--as if the author wanted us to know she realizes it doesn't make sense for it to happen, but any logical explanations are brushed aside and made to seem irrelevant simply by our main character acknowledging this discrepancy.

I also have to add that, during one scene, we actually come to see that the rebels are young adults themselves. So let me just rehash this just in case I'm not analyzing it correctly:
- four rebel attacks within short time frames
- at least one attack managed to cause casualties
- time and time again the alarms were resounded only after the rebels had penetrated into the palace
- the rebels may as well have been children for their youth
- there is no sign of the King making attempts of chasing/capturing the rebels to actively prevent future attacks
- there is no sign of any improvements upon the security of the palace. In fact, each time after the rebels attacked, the event is not even discussed between the Elite, or even the royal household.

So not only is Iléa governed by a tyrant, he is also an incredibly stupid tyrant who utterly fails at the security of his own home. How a King that cannot even protect his own palace walls manages to keep hold on an entire Kingdom baffles me.

But as if having ridiculously forced rebel attacks was not enough, just as it was in The Selection, nothing actually happened during the attacks!
Sure, everyone comes out of hiding to find the walls sprawled with: WE ARE COMING. Oh I am just shaking in my undies. Sure, some guards and nameless servants were killed during the action. But none of the characters who mattered were ever in any sense of danger, making it rather useless to be honest.
If you don't believe in the absolute uselessness of Cass' attempts of having us worry for her characters -- take the scene where Maxon and his father flies off to New Asia[*] to resolve some sort of conflict. Upon their arrival, a brief paragraph was given on how they were never found ... and then, a few pages later, we were told they were heading back to Iléa. No harm, no other mention of the conflict.
What a massively useless side plot.

[*sidenote:] really? New Asia? Well done blocking an entire continent covering almost 9% of the Earth's surface and comprising of over fifty different sovereign states and dependent territories into one massive entity under one kingdom.

Another odd thing I found about the worldbuilding is how utterly ridiculous it was that every new country in this book is a Kingdom. I simply find it hard to believe that many, many years into the future, our world would have devolved into Sovereign Monarchies. Italy is a Monarchy. Germany is a Monarchy. NEW ASIA the bloody whole CONTINENT I assume is under one Monarchy.



You see all that? That's Asia. No country in their right mind would let the whole thing unite under ONE GOVERNMENT holy shit. I'm Asian and I'm terrified at the thought.


I'll end this review with a list of my pet peeves. The names.
-America Singer sounds pretty tame compared to the whole lot.
-Woodwork brings me straight back to high school.
-Markson now this is just getting annoying.
-Maxon Schreave *snort*.
-Amberly Station Schreave sounds like a monopoly property card.

aaaaand my personal favourite:


-King Clarkson BAHAHAHAHAHAHA

[note:] the amount of effort evident in my brilliant photoshop job corresponds to the amount of credit I give to this book.


21 Oct. '13
Is that America? Has she always been a ginger?
Ah well.... At least she isn't sniffing her own armpit in this one.



> My review of The Selection
> My review of The One

you can also read more reviews over at my blog
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Reading Progress

October 21, 2012 – Shelved
March 28, 2013 – Shelved as: only-if-its-free-baby
April 23, 2013 –
0.0% ""I want seven bridesmaids," Kriss said. "I mean, if Maxon chooses me and I get to have a big wedding."\n "Well, I won't have bridesmaids," Celeste said, countering Kriss. "They're just distracting. And since it would be televised, I want all eyes on me."\n \n Who says that? In front of the Queen who is potentially your mother-in-law? Shouldn't you be false-sweet-humble? Stupidity, or poor characterization?"
April 23, 2013 –
0.0% ""Not the palace, Maxon. I could care less about the clothes or my bed or, believe it or not, the food."\n \n I could care less.\n I Could care less.\n I COULD care less.\n I COULD CARE LESS.\n \n "
April 23, 2013 –
0.0% "Oh, and now America and Celeste are having a full on cat fight - claws and tea saucers and all that - in front of the Queen.\n \n That's some class right there."
April 24, 2013 – Started Reading
April 24, 2013 –
0.0% "The most cliché, formulaic way the competition could end is with America and Celeste left. But this early in the book, I'm willing to give Keira Cass the benefit of the doubt.\n \n however, if it DOES happen, I'm knocking off a star."
April 24, 2013 – Shelved as: coulda-been-worse
April 24, 2013 – Shelved as: romance
April 24, 2013 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 24, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-20 of 20 (20 new)

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manda XD

I think someone mentioned in their review of The Selection that "Maxon" sounds like a tampon brand. Couldn't get the image out of my head.


Tonina Great review. I still can't pull it together enough to adequately articulate all the problems I saw in The Elite. After two books, I'm convinced Kiera Cass got her character names by wandering around her house looking at various things she owns - "Oh look, woodwork! That would make a great name! And lotion with a brand name containing the word "amber"! And here's my Monopoly board! That has some good names in it! AH-HAH! I'LL MASH THEM UP FOR CHARACTER NAMES! YES! I AM A WRITING GENIUS!!!" - and watching a couple of nights' worth of reality TV. And for the record, I outright howled with mildly insane laughter when I read that she'd named the king "Clarkson". Good lord.


message 3: by Summer (new)

Summer Awesome review! Thank GOD I haven't started this series yet, although I have considered it. But you saved me!
Based on your review, this book is utterly stupid. Especially that whole "uniting Asia under one government" bit. I mean, really?? But she was probably too lazy to actually name the actual countries, so she just collectively referred to it as "New Asia". The idiocy of it is just...*facepalm*.


manda heh. Well to be fair there apparently has been a war in New Asia for years, though the book never mentions whether this was a civil war or a war with other nations (see what I mean by worldbuilding? none.)

I assume New Asia is all under one block/rule because the culture was mentioned as uniform (quote: "Girls back in New Asia use a lot of red in their ceremonies, and the groom has to bring gifts to the bride's friends to reward them for letting her marry him").

I mean, if you take a look at Japan, you'll see that their culture although similar, still differs from the culture of Korea, or Philippines, Thailand, etc etc.
It really annoyed me that the book used "New Asia" as a collective term, with the same cultures, whether or not it turns out they were in fact under one Monarchy.


message 5: by Summer (new)

Summer I can tell that this book has no trace of world-building at all.

That is very ignorant for all the seperate countries in Asia to just be collectively referred to like that, as if they are all the same. Kind of like here in America, it's not uncommon to encounter people like this; they would view people from East Asia and SE Asia as all Asian that look exactly alike and have the same culture. It's irritating.
Lol, I probably seem like I'm overreacting, but I get so angry when this topic comes up and when I hear about someone doing the whole "collective grouping" thing.


message 6: by Mae (new)

Mae "Is that America? Has she always been a ginger?" - Well done on reading the first book.


Mollie ~Ravenclaw Romance Reader~ Sorry Maegan, not all of us want to reread this series over and over again like you do.

This book makes me feel bad for some of the previous reviews I have given to books. The world building is nonexistent and where are the real character emotions???? This is perfect if you've just learned how to read and have no expectations whatsoever.


manda Skyla wrote: "She was being sarcastic.

Also not everyone remembers exactly what a character looks like when the book is done. Especially reading in the volume that Amanda does.

I had totally forgotten what Ari..."


Thanks Skyla, exactly. And I forget that sarcasm doesn't translate well across paper/written form.

I might also add, it's much less likely for people to remember small details like that if they didn't actually like the book or even character in question.


manda Mollie wrote: "Sorry Maegan, not all of us want to reread this series over and over again like you do.

This book makes me feel bad for some of the previous reviews I have given to books. The world building is n..."



That's so true. In fact part of the reason I didn't hate this book as much as I thought I would, was that I knew exactly what to expect - pure romance fluff, little to no worldbuilding.
I went into the first book thinking it would have a decent bit of action (it was even described as Hunger Games meets The Bachelor for God's sake), so I got reeeeally angry when I found out it was NOTHING like THG.


manda Summer {MissFictional} wrote: "I can tell that this book has no trace of world-building at all.

That is very ignorant for all the seperate countries in Asia to just be collectively referred to like that, as if they are all the..."


Hah. Don't worry. I know plenty of people here who also think America = one big country.


Jessie LOL your review made me laugh!! King Clarkson HAHA
Amazing review, Amanda! ;)


manda Thanks Jessie :)


message 13: by Rhea (new)

Rhea LOL! Great review, and you made me laugh! I'll stay away from this series. Bad world-building is a big pet peeve of mine.


message 14: by Praise (new) - added it

Praise i want the tiara too!!!!


message 15: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I'm literally snorting due to your very witty and sarcastic, and amazingly sharp review. Too bad the Elite wasn't up to our expectation... I really hate illogical world-building as well.


Steve M Illea is North and South America combined too apparently. Scale definitely seems to be a problem in these novels. As written it feels like Illea is just a city state and there's a bunch of rebels like just outside hanging out and doing raids.


Amanda Thank you so much for your opinion on what Maxon got caught doing and her forgiving him. That literally made no sense to me. Maxons not quite the gentleman he claimed to be and I felt like kicking him where it hurt for what he did.
Should NEVER have happened.


Amanda Thank you so much for your opinion on what Maxon got caught doing and her forgiving him. That literally made no sense to me. Maxons not quite the gentleman he claimed to be and I felt like kicking him where it hurt for what he did.
Should NEVER have happened.


Danielle Mcallister-andrews i agree 100% it was definitely a "killing time at work" book


Nicole As much as I love this series, 'cause it keeps me hook *don't know how*. We have to accept the world building is like the worst thing in the book, no doubt. So, since I like it, I kind of pretend Illéa is a fictional country from a fantasy book instead of a dystopian. 'Cause let's be honest, there's a reason why World War III hasn't happened. And I doubt so much every country will be a monarchy, let alone a stupid rich dude will just claim to rule like that out of nowhere. Which brings me to why I think that dude... *President Wallis? Was it?* was the worst President the US could have in a worst case scenario.

Now, to the book, that indecision America had, like... ugh!

I loved your review. Made me laugh even though I enjoy reading this *still trying to understand why, but I do*


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