I haven't read the first in this series, so this is a proper test for The Elite. Can it stand out as a good book in its own right?
The answer? No. This is a 2.75 rounded up to 3.
Warning: this review is a little angry, I didn't enjoy this book as much as that overly-fussy yet still pretty cover made me think I would. Boo for pretty covers and my judging a book by its cover. But it's still got (almost) 3 stars, so it's not all that bad.
It's a decent enough story, if not terribly confusing, as it apparently picks up exactly where the last one ended. I often pick up a book and read it without checking to see if it's part of a series - and usually that's perfectly fine, it's great, it makes me want to read all of the other books. In a series there is usually a run-down of what happened in the previous book(s) if not only to remind you of what happened. Even House of Night managed that (but, you know, nowadays that'll be a book in itself. FINISH IT ALREADY!). It's the mark of a strong series, that it's easily accessible. The Elite just isn't unless you're already invested in the series.
And then on to the characters. Dear god, America, what kind of girl are you? Do you want him or don't you? She's all "oh I don't want to be with him!" and then he shows the slightest interest in someone else and she's all "back off bitch!" and angry. Not everyone loves you, you spoilt Mary-Sue, who's only redeeming quality seems to be that she was once poor and is a bit of a slag. Maxon is a spoiled brat pretty much until the very end, and Aspen just needs to go away and stop screwing with Mer's head. I liked the queen though, and Marlee.
The world seems very flat too. For a dystopian novel this isn't good at all, oh no. This story seemed to focus on the mansion and all the pretty things and the lavish lifestyle. There wasn't much of the hardship displayed, only a few raids during which all the characters are tucked away safely. Except for America of course, she's a Mary-Sue so can run faster than anyone, ever.
Good points? Yes, there are some. The story was sweet in places and I really felt for Marlee. And for Kriss, as it feels like she's being led along. And America's maids, she was quite nasty to them, even when they devoted themselves to her. And by the end I was beginning to piece the obscure world together a little and better understand the motives driving some of the characters. Maxon's not all bad, but he's not all good either, I'm definitely team Maxon. There was tension and conflict between the characters, they weren't all 2D, they had emotions.
The ending was a bit of a relief for me. It was predictable, yes, but a good predictable. It wrapped up well but kept enough back to set the scene for another book, you know to resolve the whole Selection process. And there was even more tension added, you know, because it's the end.
If I had read the first I'd probably like this story more, as I'd know what was going on.
Thanks, NetGalley for a copy of this.