June 23, 2016

My Pick, My Choice, My Love

I finished reading the first three novels of this series much earlier this year (and I thoroughly enjoyed them!). Even though I could have already grabbed a copy of The Heir, I thought it would be prudent to wait until the sequel (and the series finale) The Crown was finally out in the world. It was a good decision, as I would probably have lost my reading momentum if I’d had to deal with the way that first novel of this duology ends (and I don’t know how everyone else did it, so props to you guys!). I wound up reading them back to back, and I think that enhanced the reading experience a whole lot more! (P.S. Stop here if you don’t want any spoilers.)

The Heir and The Crown are centered on Eadlyn, the eldest daughter of Maxon and America Schreave (also known as the couple in the first three novels). She’s been groomed all her life to be the future queen, a responsibility that she has accepted and wants to do well, and a burden that has made her life a little more strait-laced and difficult than it might have been otherwise. When revolution from a rebellious faction threatens to overturn everything her parents have worked so hard for, Eadlyn agrees to host her own Selection as a distraction for the people. She’s not keen on finding her one true love, especially via this route, and so, she enters the Selection with a plan to help her stay in control. But when a group of boys unexpectedly invades her home (and her heart), the possibilities suddenly become endless.

I’ve decided that it would be easiest to pattern this series review after the way I reviewed the original trilogy. So, without further ado, let me tell you what I really liked about these two novels:

  • Eadlyn is incredibly different from both her parents, though you can see some of their qualities in her. She’s stubborn, headstrong and determined to do things the way she sees fit – even running a kingdom. Even, in fact, choosing a husband… or not doing so. It is, admittedly, really hard to understand her choices and her words sometimes, because she’s erected a wall that keeps everyone out of her heart and she tends to act of her own volition. But she grew on me. I learned to respect her personality, and to even like it at times, and I do think that she’s a breath of fresh air when it comes to the characters of this series.
  • Eadlyn’s relationship with the members of her family is so freaking adorable. I loved how deeply she cared for her parents, how she would confide in Maxon and seek comfort in America. I adored her relationship with her twin brother Ahren, who was basically the yin to her yang. And she was an excellent older sibling to her little brothers Kaden and Osten, there for them even when so many things might have demanded her time. I thought it was so lovely to see this family really go out of their way to be there for each other in spite of their duty to their kingdom, and you could totally feel the affection between them.
  • Maxon and America were darling to read about. While I would never say no to more of these two, the snippets of their lives and their story that Cass chose to share were so wonderful. They painted a lovely picture of their marriage, their rule and their home life, and I absolutely loved it. Honestly, just seeing them be so happy together (in spite of what gets thrown their way) is so beautiful. They truly got their happy ever after!
  • There were certain boys in the Selection that I really, really enjoyed reading about. I have my favorites in the group, and I love that majority of those favorites got a ton of screen time in the pages. It was really interesting to gauge their character based on what Eadlyn knows about them beforehand and her shared experiences with them. There were definitely a ton of great candidates for Eadlyn’s hand in marriage in this group of guys!
  • I liked the reverse look at the Selection process. In the first three novels, we were following America’s story as one of the girls participating as a candidate in the Selection. So, we basically got a contestant’s point of view. In these two novels, we are following Eadlyn’s story as the girl who will choose her future husband from the Selection. It was really cool to sort of get an idea of what it might have been like for Maxon by seeing what it was like for his daughter.
  • I appreciated the moments of female empowerment. Eadlyn herself is a strong female character, but there are other individuals in her story that are strong females too. They are all very different in temperament and personality, but the core of steel that runs through them all is something they have in common. From America to a few familiar faces and a few new ones, there are a lot of admirable ladies in this story.

While I did enjoy a lot of things about The Heir and The Crown, I did have a couple of reservations. Here’s what I wasn’t particularly fond of:

  • The length of the novels didn’t work for me. I honestly believe that these two stories could have been combined into one book, and it might have turned out even better.
  • The lack of focus on the political part of the plot threw me. There’s hints of rebellion and revolution, mentions of unrest and discontent. But we barely have any time spent on resolving these issues, particularly in the second novel. Instead, there’s a big decision that effectively “solves” the entire thing.
  • There’s an unexpected shift in plot focus. The first novel balances a lot of different things for Eadlyn, and it felt just about equal to me. But in the second, the focus is solely on the Selection and the romantic aspect of it. It does make sense in the context of it being the one thing people in the kingdom are looking forward to and are invested in, but it just made the rest of the plot seem underdeveloped to me.

In spite of these reservations, I’m hard-pressed to say that I didn’t enjoy The Heir and The Crown… Because, in the end, I did. I was sending frantic text messages in all caps to my best friend, swooning over a few choice moments and getting the warm fuzzy feels over others – and I can’t discredit that when talking about these series. Though I do feel like there was room for improvement, I’ve got to give props to Kiera Cass for, again, writing books that I simply flew through until I hit the very end… and that I enjoyed tremendously.

The Heir / The Crown by Kiera Cass | Series: The Selection #4-5
Publisher: Harper Teen | Publication Dates: May 5, 2015; 
Source: Hardcover borrowed from the library; hardcover borrowed from Danica


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