Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: 'The One' by Kiera Cass

Once you're two books into a trilogy there is really no discernible reason why you wouldn't get working on the final instalment as well. Cass' Selection-trilogy stirred up quite the hype upon release and has therefore always held a slight fascination for me. Now that I have finished the whole trilogy, I wonder why. This review may be considered to contain spoilers. Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Pub. Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
THE SELECTION changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. Now, only one will claim Prince Maxon’s heart… 
It’s swoon meets the Hunger Games in the third instalment of THE SELECTION series!For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives. 
Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown – or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realises just how much she stands to lose – and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants. The breathtaking third title in THE SELECTION series will make you swoon!
Let's start with the main character, America Singer, whose name is as much a clue to her personality as most of the book's description of her is. Whereas in The Selection her development seemed relatively simple and stereotypical, Cass really expanded upon her in The Elite. Not until The One, though, did America get interesting storylines to work with, which should strange considering this trilogy is supposed to be about her. However, it is not until this book that America seems to actively create situations rather than just respond to what others do. It makes her a much more interesting and well-rounded character since the whole 'show, don't tell' advice still counts for published authors. As The One progressed America became much more likeable and yet there are still aspects about her character which felt incredibly empty, i.e. felt under-developed. Considering that a relatively short period of time was stretched over three books, it would have been great if more of that time had been spent on genuine character development.

In my reviews of the previous two instalments of the trilogy I commented upon the world-building going on in Cass' novels. On the one hand, certain aspects are highlighted a lot and emphasized continuously, but on the other hand, these are hardly ever backed up by a consistent history or a true sense of culture. When is this trilogy meant to be set? What has actually happened to America (the country, not the protagonist) and does it even matter? This comes back to only a few things being made important by the author and the rest passed over by quick narration. When an author doesn't feel the need to get into her protagonist's country's history, then why should the reader care? Personally I do not believe that a story can work without being set in an environment which impacts the story somehow because if a narrative is so theme and trope dependent, it loses almost all of its originality and creativity. The One only slightly improved upon the other books in this respect. Again there were aspects to Ilea's history that mattered to progress the plot and those were only then dragged into the limelight, shifted into favourable positions and then discarded again. Although it makes for easy reading, it always feels as if there could have been a lot more. It's the reason I would never consider this trilogy dystopian, since there simply isn't enough world-building to support that.

The major let down of this book was the quick ending. Within two chapters and what feels like ten pages the whole plot is wrapped up neatly and brought to the ending that doesn't really surprise anyone. For the fact that as the series progressed the books gained complexity, and even depth in some places, it was a shame to see Cass put a stop to it so easily. I had remarked before on the easy with which the narrative of the whole trilogy flows. It sucks you in very easily, the way that reality tv does as well. This is down to the fact that it is a very similar story to ones we've seen already. The core plot of the The Selection-trilogy comes down to a number of well-known tropes and readers love recognizing familiar story-lines. What keeps us so entertained is the fascination with the tiny details which make a particular series or novel different. Nothing is wrong with following traditional story-lines, but it's a shame when the details that differentiate a novel actually aren't that fascinating. When a big reveal is met with simple acceptance rather than shock or horror, what is there left to say? The One put an end to all the story lines that had been started and resolved any potential tension quite successfully. It's a book I could close and move on from without problem though.

I give this book and series...

3 Universes!

I read this book quite some time ago and yet never got round to writing the review. When I don't feel the need to talk about a book that's significant because I always want to talk about books. The One was a suitable ending for the The Selection-trilogy. It amped up the tension that had been building in the previous two books without really adding anything new, major or unexpected. For YA and Romance readers this trilogy will be fun, but it's far from life-changing.

4 comments:

  1. I kind of felt like The One ended too abruptly too, it didn't feel like a fitting ending the series in my opinion. I'd agree that so much went on in The One and it did make America so much intriguing, but I felt that some events were perhaps just a little too much. I really liked the series as a whole, but I'm not sure how I'm going to feel about The Heir. Great review :) xx

    Alexandra @ Alexandra Florence Books

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    1. I think I maybe, and I don't have to say this often, preferred less plot and more character-development! The series as whole was entertaining though! Thanks for commenting :)

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  2. I totally agree with you about the character development in the book! If you thought this was bad though... please don't read The Heir! I don't know what happened to Cass between the two books, but it wasn't anything good. I really did enjoy The Selection series (the first three books) but everything you said here is totally accurate too! Great review :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. Oh help, I requested The Heir on netgalley as well because I thought it was part of the Selection-series... I did enjoy reading the Selection but since I wasn't completely wowed I am now slightly nervous for the next one! Thanks for commenting :)

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