Book Review – ‘The Heir’ by Kiera Cass

The next generation was more like a poorer cousin.

The Heir Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Dystopia, Romance

No. of pages: 342

From Goodreads:

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she’d put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess’s life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can’t escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn’s heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn’t as impossible as she’s always thought.

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I was curious to see where Kiera Cass would take this series with the next generation… I have a love/hate relationship with these books, issues with the characters and their attitudes, but love the complexity of plot and tabloid allure. However, ‘The Heir’ failed to deliver on all of these counts.

I did not connect with Eadlyn as much as I did with America. I found Eadlyn entitled, and we never get to find out – due to the nature of the narrative – if she indeed has a worldly view as expected of her in the role of monarch. Her ‘work’ is always alluded to but never completely explained. It left me thinking Eadlyn as shallow, protected and scared. It builds great tension, but left me not all that invested in her future. I put it down to how she was written – educated, aloof and separate from everyone else. Eadlyn herself mused on this, how she had intentionally isolated herself in order to become a better ruler – it also made her hard to relate to, cold, and somewhat bitchy.

The Heir Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

There was also a lot less going on in this novel in comparison to the Selection trilogy. We were aware of the caste systems, the politics and the plotting and planning of all the characters involved. In ‘The Heir’ we lost most of that and instead were dealt up a dish of Eadlyn’s self discovery. I wanted more about the rebels, more conniving politics, more entwined storylines – like The Selection.

Even though this effectively re-booted the story line, it left me with much of the feeling of a middle book in a trilogy, setting things up, moving the story forward a small amount, but resolving little.

The ending was brilliant. A cliff hanger I did not see coming. Not in a million years. It is the one thing that has me wanting to read the next in the series. Plus, I feel as though I’m going to get more of what I want from this new generation of royals.

It was an easy read, but I ended spreading it out over a week, consuming the last half in a day; as I mentioned, there didn’t feel like there was enough going on to hold my attention. It was fun, and enjoyable, but a little flat. Though not the best book of the series, it certainly has set things up for an explosive ending and I can’t wait to find out what is going to happen.

We get glimpses of Maxon, America and Aspen, and many of the other characters from the first three books: it was entertaining to see how they had grown over the last few decades. There was less explained about the world and political landscape than I would have liked, and Kiera Cass seemed to spend a lot of time describing clothes more than anything… But the Selection series has been a guilty pleasure of mine, though I find many faults in the characters and tropes, the novels are undeniably compelling to read. I just can’t stop. So Cass must doing something right.

Overall feeling: A bit of a yawn.

The Heir Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The Heir Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The One’ by Kiera Cass

Finally! America girl, you had me going (not really)…

 

The One Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Romance, Distopian

No. of pages: 323

From Goodreads:

 

The time has come for one winner to be crowned.

When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

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The conclusion to this trilogy (yes there are other companion novels and subsequent works due to be released, but this was intended to be a trilogy from the outset) went out with a bang. Literally. But you’ll have to read it to understand what I mean, I don’t like posting spoilers.

The One Book Review Pic 06 by Casey CarlisleBring on the carnage – and let me tell you there were some unexpected turns here. And I loved it! It is so much fun to get continual surprises when reading. Because we all know it’s a love story, and girl will get boy at some stage… right? So the violence that was present in the previous two novels escalated in this edition in bright technicoloured gore. Such a juxtaposition to the marshmellowy romance, and something that gave The One some gusto! Off with her head!!

There are some moments I was reaching for the tissues. Kiera Cass can really draw the feels from me. Paradoxically, other times I wanted to pitch the novel across the room in frustration as America Singer kept up with her flip-flopping as she had in the first two instalments. C’mon girl – get your sh!t together, this is getting old!

The One Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

I had hoped America would have shown a more mature side in this installment (even if she stumbled a little along the way) but reading her making the same mistakes made the novel feel somewhat formulaic.

The One also brought more characters and more political intrigue to the forefront, and did not shy away from the brutality of the situations. Which is a weird experience when mixed with the sugar sweet and sanitised tone of The Bachelor type lottery. I can’t say if I’m convinced if it worked – but will say that The Selection Series continues to be a guilty pleasure. It’s a fun quick read with plenty of headstrong characters and lots of pretty dresses (not to mention mean girls)

As with the rest of the series, The One is a light and fast read, easy to complete in a day. Kiera Cass’ writing style continues to allow you escape into bizarre fantasy world where you last name can match your job… I will say that this is my favourite book of the series (if only we could cut out some of the excessive gushing and indecision of America).

If you love romantic escapism – this is one for you.

Overall reaction: equal parts coy anticipation and dismissive

The One Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

The One Book Review Pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – The Elite

The Elite Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

The Selection began with thirty-five girls.
Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?

America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

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The continuing story of Kiera Cass’ Selection series, The Elite offered a little more than its predecessor – but for me, not much more.

The plot is a hodge-podge of political intrigue, clandestine goings-on, unreliable narration and life threatening situations wrapped around a love triangle. So there is plenty going on to keep your interest.

I found this book frustrating – On the one hand the protagonist, America’s moral opinions on her love interest kept flip-flopping on (what appeared to be) whimsy in the first third of the novel. Her Character had grown strong by the end of the first instalment of this series (The Selection), and the way Keira Cass’ second novel began I witnessed America behaving more in the way I’d expect of her younger sister May. Maybe love (or the illusion of) can send you a bit cray-cray, but after such a great character arc in the first novel, as the reader, I was insulted. On the up side, The Elite had me tearing up at many points – the feels were completely unexpected – and ultimately well worth the read.

If Keira had been able to tighten up the first half of this novel, maintained America with the strength of character she’d grown into at the end of The Selection, this novel would have been a home-run for me.

The Elite Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleThere was something about the main cast that had me squirming – whether it was the lack of realism in their situation, or the places they didn’t go/ questions they didn’t ask, I’m not sure. It didn’t sit right with me. It was like Keira went almost to the point of empowering her characters with a will of their own, but backed down at the last second hoping you were satisfied with the information you did get. Besides that niggling feeling, all of the main cast had some great story arcs and transformed through adversity.

Shout out to America’s maids: Anne, Mary, and Lucy – these characters were the highlight of the novel and always had me smiling. In the first novel I was unsure of their presence other than a tool to insult the reader, and America, in regards to the caste system; but by the end of The Elite they were a team. They were friends and family.

This book falls under my guilty pleasure category – something about it is addictive and compelling. Although not a masterpiece it flows easily, lending itself to an elegant way to while an afternoon.

The Elite Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleCritique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – The Selection

The Selection Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

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I’d passed over this title many times because of the premise – a raffle for a Prince to choose his bride – sounds a little overdone and pretentious. Many have said it was The Bachelor meets The Apprentice (I didn’t get a feel for the Apprentice part until the end of the second instalment though). I must say I was pleasantly entertained by The Selection. Even though it rubs the wrong way against my ideals, and I felt there were some major plot holes in the world building, I was able to submerge myself in the narrative, and admit that Keira Cass has created a piece which has become a guilty pleasure to read.

The ick factor with this book came from the pomposity of the world – it did not feel believable for me. But if you can indulge the fantasy, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the development of some of the characters. Plus there are some real mean girls in here that took me back to my high school experience; how I wish I could have dumped a bucket of fish guts over their heads!

The Selection Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleKiera Cass does a great job in using the narrators voice, in this case America Singer, as a tool for her storyline reveals. We discover the facts as she does. A real case of show, don’t tell. It ticked a big box for me. But the most annoying thing about this novel (and which continues throughout the series) is America’s indecisiveness. For such a strong willed character she flip-flops all over the place. At times I just about left dent marks in my e-reader from gripping onto the case in frustration.

It was refreshing to meet a character who started to enjoy the trappings of class. America begins to get more and more daring, putting on more make-up, choosing flashier clothes, getting comfortable with her maids, and made no apology for her excitement. Every girl likes to play dress up and feel pretty. We can’t be self-sacrificing martyrs all the time.

Other issues I had in the storytelling had to do with America not exploring her situation enough. Questioning why things were the way they were… but having said that, if Keira Cass had explored that train of thought The Selection series would have a much different, darker tone, and ultimately less enjoyable. So I’m chalking it up to America’s naivety to the world around her…

The Selection Book Review pic 04 by Casey CarlisleKeira’s writing style is like a warm breeze tickling your skin and waving through your hair: it’s effortless and unseen. I whipped through this book so quickly. Which attributes to the pacing as well, I did not feel the need to put the book down. I have to say, The Selection was a light romantic read very close to a Cinderella story.

If you are on the fence with this series by the end of The Selection, I will say – it gets better. There were a few unexpected twists that brutally surprised me throughout the subsequent editions that I feel totally redeem the collection. So, yes I picked up the next book in the series, The Elite to read straight away…


The Selection Book Review pic 05 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

 © Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.