Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Elite, Kiera Cass

3.5 stars out of 5

The love triangle is still there, but the political plot is starting to come out more. The king has a dark streak to him, secrets prevail. Does Maxon know about the true history of Illea and the founding king? Or has he been kept in the dark too? Capital punishment-as a public display-still exists. America is NOT ok with this. She has a strong moral compass and does not want to be a part of a country that can't change. An Italian princess admits that the reason they do not want to be allies with Illea is because the country does not allow much personal freedom, but admits they like what they've seen in America and want her to have the crown-because a country can change. But America doubts her ability to make that change.

More attacks take place at the palace while she's there. Things seem increasingly upsetting and out of control with the rebels.

By the end of the book, the Elite, the top 6 is narrowed down to the top 4. Once it gets to 3 of them, the Prince is supposed to choose. He is facing greater pressure to make the decision more quickly and end the Selection process faster. Time is what America has needed, and she's running out of it. She goes back and forth quickly based on what's going on. Typical teenager, so it's only slightly annoying, but realistic to the age. For instance, when Maxon seems to distance himself from her, she's absolutely sure it means that he's changed his mind about her, when it seemed obvious to me that since he knew that he was keeping her, he needed to decide who to eliminate and therefore didn't need to invest as much time in someone he knew was secure. But thinking about how I felt as a teen myself in my memories, I could definitely see how insecure I was and how I could go down the same road of thought as America did.

One of the more mature themes (that gave it a higher rating than the first book) is that of history and who makes history and who decides what is truth-and the importance of the written word. The history of Illea is passed down orally. How easy it is to change something when there is no proof one way or another? A modern example of people questioning history is the Columbus story. Born in 1981, I learned about Columbus as this great explorer with an adventurous spirit. Now, there is a group demanding that kids be taught about what a tyrant he was, the fact that he was a criminal and the monarchy granted him permission to go on his quest largely because they thought there was no way in heck he'd actually succeed. History is one subject that has cold hard facts based on evidence on one side and human perspective on the other. Each World War looks different from each different country's perspective and position. And some deny the cold hard facts entirely. Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as complete truth when it comes to history, but one thing is for sure, it is easily manipulated. And part of what will help us to know a majority of truth is to have things written-even if we're not sure we can trust the authors to be authentic. So I guess history also relies on the trait of honesty in the people telling the story. So many different holocaust survivors independent of one another telling a similar story give more authenticity and more credibility. Add to that photographs before Photoshop came into being and things become fact. Unfortunately, the use of photoshop makes me less reliant on photographs, because it's easy to falsify images these days. But I did appreciate the complexity of the dilemma of finding true history and exposing tyrants this second book has.

It appears that one rebel group is looking for specific literature-perhaps Diaries of Gregory Illea where many horrific truths are learned by America as she gets to read one of the diaries. I am anxious to see what information is found and if it can be expounded to the public (or covered up). The other interesting thing is that Illea does not have newspapers or anything in print. They have a once a week broadcast "The Report" where the public is given the information the King feels they need to know. So right now, having a Free Press is also brought to light of its importance. However, if the Free Press is ever controlled (or biased completely) to things, we are in no better situation than not having one at all.....Benghazi anyone? Does anyone really know what happened? Has everything been published concerning it? And what we've heard sounds disturbing at best, but WHY isn't there an uproar or a cry for more and for justice? It's not being reported very this due to bias, unseen control, or something completely different?

The third and final installment comes out on May 6 and I'm hoping to get it from the library fairly quickly so I can figure out where this is going. Sometimes I wonder if America will choose Maxon and the crown because it would give her the opportunity to change the country for better. I felt like at the beginning that she never truly loved Aspen, but was only lustfull of him, but I can admit that perhaps there was more than lust between them by the end of book 2, but that with Maxon she definitely feels chemistry and friendship, but she doesn't know yet if he's being honest with her or if he can be trusted. And with all his required secrets to keep, it's hard to know who he really is and who he is coerced into being at any given time.

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