I’m sure that many of you have the same habit- once you’ve started reading something you have to finish it. Including a series- if I’ve plugged through a whole book in the series, I’m going to continue to read the rest. Very rarely do I give up, even when I spend more time rolling my eyes than looking at the page.
Which is how I find myself writing a review of the third book in this series.
The series follows ‘the Selection’, which is when the royal family of the country of Illea has a Bachelor-like competition to find a mate for the prince. At some point before the books, China somehow took over all of North America which then later fought back and the whole continent is now called Illea. Illea is run by a caste system with assigned numbers. 1s are the ruling family, 2s are rich folks who may or may not have jobs, down to 8s who are basically just homeless? The protagonist, America, is in the caste of performers and artists which is something you are born in to whether or not you have any artistic ability whatsoever. If you think too much about this it quickly falls apart. America joined the Selection on the advice of her secret lower-caste boyfriend Aspen. Because America is practically perfect in every way she is chosen (book 1) and makes it past most of the other girls in the competition (book 2).
In The One, America is now one of four girls vying for the heart of the
Bachelor prince. King Clarkson hates America because she is poor and too nice to other poor people but Queen Amberly thinks she’s the bee’s knees and Prince Maxon wanted to marry her all the way back in book 1 but America was torn between her poor boyfriend Aspen and her rich boyfriend Maxon and just couldn’t get it together. Apparently, one of the unspoken rules in Illea is to take a name and make it just a little bit awful. During all the boy drama, Illea is alternately hosting balls so the bacherlorettes can show off their party-planning skills or being attacked by armed rebels who murder the contestant’s families. The story has a whiplash effect- on one page, there is a long description of yet another of America’s dresses and the jewelry that Maxon gave her to wear, and on the next page someone is shot in the head. One one page a tea party, on the next an announcement of an assassination.
The ending seems as though the author hit a page limit and decided that the best way to wrap this thing up was to have a violent coup followed by a proposal of marriage literally involving the words “make me the happiest man in the world” while the bodies of his family members have not cooled. If I were giving more credit to the author I could say that this was intentional, to show how normalized to violence this world is and that the message is to find happiness even in dark moments. It just comes across as rushed or lazy.