The 35 Selection candidates have been whittled down to four; whom will Prince Maxon choose?
There’s contained, competent Elise, sweet, kind Kriss, gorgeous, bitchy Celeste and narrator America, who just can’t seem to keep herself from upsetting the apple cart of the Illéan monarchy. Her impulsive thoughts and actions—when the bad Southern rebels start picking off victims caste by caste, she advises the populace to fight back—have King Clarkson fuming. He wants America gone, but America and Maxon want each other—maybe. Amid sorties to meet with the nice Northern rebels and the pageantry of the Selection, the tiresome push-pull of Cass’ love triangle continues. America and Maxon, and America and hometown sweetheart–turned–palace guard Aspen, keep coming this close to having the critical conversations that will settle matters; it is this tension, not the pretense of political drama, that maintains the plot. Though there’s some attempt made to fill out some of the secondary characterizations, by and large it falls flat. King Clarkson in particular is a cartoon of a blustering strongman; it’s impossible to take him at all seriously as a ruling head of state. And for all America’s protestations of spunky egalitarianism, there’s absolutely nothing in her character or the story structure that does anything but support the corrupt system she supposedly rejects.
Readers who think colloquium interruptum is an exceptionally slender premise for a 300-plus–page trilogy conclusion are right. (Dystopian romance. 14-18)