Monday, May 26, 2014
The One, Kiera Cass
Ok, so very, VERY rarely do trilogies keep getting BETTER as they go. But As you may or may not recall, the first book, The Selection I gave a 3.5 star rating. The second book, The Elite I rated closer to a 4. THIS one? The One...I'm giving in 4.5.
Why? Because I believe the message this book was sending was not about a romance. It wasn't about which boy she was going to choose to love, it became an overwhelming message of "choosing to do the right thing no matter what the consequences of that choice may be." There are SO many times when doing the right thing SHOULD have gotten America kicked out of the palace whether or not the Prince wanted her there. Doing the right thing made her an enemy to the King basically. Finding ways around doing what she was supposed to and still following orders, but by doing the right thing, not by following verbatim.
Another message that I liked was that there are two sides to every story. And behind ever bully is a person who is probably very insecure about something and until you can see them for that vulnerability, and they by chance let you in can you begin to see them as a person rather than mean actions. One character in particular has been horrible the entire time, but when caught in a moment of insecurity releases everything about how she's felt and how she really doesn't LIKE being the mean girl, she just doesn't really know how to react or how else to manipulate circumstances to her advantage. She has such a change of heart from letting this out that she eventually apologizes to EVERYONE she's wronged.
And the final message I was much appreciative us is that America doesn't end up "choosing" one guy over another. She realizes what love really is-and that it's not just physical passion (although there is plenty of wanting going on), and it's not just getting along. It's about finding someone who makes you feel like your authentic self. It's also about letting go of someone you loved once and how it's OK that they will ALWAYS be a part of who you are. A part of your heart will ALWAYS belong to the people you gave it to in the past. I mean, I bet all of us can think back to the first time we thought we were "in love" and even if we don't feel that way about that specific person anymore, there's still a place in your heart for them. And that's ok. It's not betraying your current love. It's just a part of you. And it's about how no relationship is "happily ever after" as the last line of the book says "It's so much more." That you WILL fight. You WILL have disagreements. You WILL have misunderstandings. But you absolutely cannot make rash decisions in the heat of the moment when you are angry. You don't just jump to break up/divorce when you have a spat in the heat of the moment and move on to someone else because of it. You work it out. At the end of the day, the person you absolutely cannot live without, the one you'd take a bullet for, the one you want to be happy more than you want your own happiness is worth a few arguments, disagreements and misunderstandings. They are worth finding out THEIR side to the story. And I liked that message. Especially since you know how I feel about love triangles and how they give that false sense to be a beautiful leading lady, you need to have 2 men vying for you being completely unrealistic. I'm glad that it was spun in such a way that you can realize that people you grew to love romantically can be put in different positions and you CAN grow apart. I also enjoyed the happy ending for everyone. No one was left out or settled. Well, at least as far as main, main characters go.
The other happy ending (although it comes about in a sad way) is that the society is going to change and attitudes are going to shift. The caste system is going to come down, although they're not sure how. Since it's become such a huge part of people's identities, they know it's going to take a lot of time (in my opinion, it's going to take a generational shift over at least 1-2 generations to full eradicate former perceptions), but they're dedicated to do so. And with that, people will inherently gain more freedoms.
But all in all, the thing I was most satisfied with was that first message of doing what is right no matter what the outcome. America Singer puts doing what is right ahead of her own desires, ahead of what would make HER life easier or what would make HER life happier. I think that's a message the YA audience needs to hear. If America was willing to give up EVERYTHING in order to do what she felt in her heart was right, then we too can stand up for what we feel is right. And you don't have to be mean or circumventive or shady in how you do it either. Even when you feel like you are backed into a corner, there is a way out that will keep your integrity intact.
So all in all, along with the fairly non-controversial ending that is 98% happy, I am very satisfied with this trilogy. Fast reading, entertaining and proves great points in this final installation. I also enjoyed the author's style and ability to weave the story get stronger and improve as it went along. I kinda wish the first book had been stronger, but c'est la vive, right? She made up for it in the end.