Illéa’s Selection pool of potential princesses has been reduced from 35 to six (The Selection, 2012), and the competition’s getting tense.
Among the six is feisty, iconoclastic America. If Prince Maxon Selects her, as he swears he wants to, she and her lowborn family will rise to Ones in Illéa’s caste system. America is finally ready to say yes when her best friend is eliminated from the Selection with upsetting violence after being found in flagrante with her illicit boyfriend. How can America imagine marrying the future head of such an unjust government? Suddenly, former love Aspen seems attractive again. Love triangle re-established, Cass sends America’s emotions lurching back and forth between Aspen and Maxon for the rest of the book. Life at the palace is periodically punctuated by episodes of violence, as various rebel factions break in and then fall back. The mischievous Northern rebels steal books; the scary Southern ones leave threatening graffiti. Twenty-first-century readers will wonder at the monumental ineptitude of the palace guard. Cass tries to compensate for the virtually nonexistent worldbuilding of the first book with occasional infodumps and excerpts from the diary of Illéa’s founder, secretly lent to America by Maxon. As in the first book, though, the thoughts a well-formed dystopia ought to provoke are buried by the bitchy politics of the Selection and the teeter-totter of America’s yearnings.
Vapid, but at least it reads fast. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)