Honestly, I think I was afraid to read this book for a long time. Despite getting my hands on it a week before it came out last May, I just kept pushing it back into my TBR stack. I even tried to start it once, around November, and just couldn’t get past the first chapter. I put it down and let a bunch of newly acquired books (wedding gift books are great) pile up on top of it, and then I promptly forgot all about it. I had just heard so many bad things about it that I was worried it would ruin the whole series for me… But after finishing the short story collection, Happily Ever After, yesterday, I was feeling the need to delve back into the Selection Series universe. After all, despite their covers, the original Selection trilogy (as well as the accompanying novellas) were all incredibly detailed, with a host of captivating characters, and enough true-to-life stakes to keep things interesting (and ensure they didn’t feel like pure romance novels). I liked the commentary on the role that the media does (or should) play in government, and vice versa, and was utterly engrossed with Maxon and America’s story from the start.
Now, here comes the second trilogy from Cass, this time featuring their daughter, Eadlyn, who – despite her incredibly hard to pronounce and ridiculous name – is all set to ascend the throne soon. As the oldest child (by seven minutes), Eadlyn is now the first-ever female heir to the throne, and there’s certainly a lot of pressure with any kind of game-changing role like that. Still, I wouldn’t have minded the novel toning down some of the overly-caricatured feminist commentaries. I thought it poisoned the fun of these books a bit, and made them feel more like a true political diatribe against the ever-oppressive “male leader”. Don’t get me wrong – I agree with Eadlyn – women ARE amazing, and CAN do anything they want. BUT, I just don’t think that wanting to fall in love has anything to do with that. It’s not oppressive to want to find a partner in life. Anyway, I just felt that the feminist overtones were a tad too heavy-handed.
To her credit, I love that Cass can write a character who is wholly unlikable from page one – she’s selfish, self-centered, bratty, rude, and a bit of a cold tyrant to be honest – and truly take the time and patience necessary to begin a realistic development that transforms her into something more. Had there been no character development, this book would have been near-impossible to get through. But I saw Eadlyn’s potential bursting forth on every other page, and, despite my frustration and exasperation over her actions and thoughts at times, I WANTED her to learn and grow and become BETTER. I often felt like trying to reach through the pages to shake her and yell, “Come on, Eadlyn, get it together. Open your eyes and WAKE UP! You can be so much more than this bratty child you’re being!” By the end of the book, there was true progress, and it was great to get to witness her beginning to come to the realizations everyone else already had. I actually found myself really respecting Cass for not making Eadlyn the same kind of easy-to-love “perfect protagonist” America was. There’s a lot at stake for her in this series, and she’s truly affected by the weight of it. I predict that we’ll see her blossom into a bright, capable, and much more likable version of herself in the coming books, and I, for one, am already looking forward to nabbing the next one this May.
Rating: 4.2/5 stars