Saturday, May 9, 2015

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

The Heir

Author: Kiera Cass
Release: May 5th 2015
Genre: Dystopia, YA
#4 in the Selection series
Series: The Selection (#1), The Elite (#2), The One (#3), The Crown (#5)


Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon—and they lived happily ever after. Eadlyn has always found their fairy-tale story romantic, but she has no interest in trying to repeat it. If it were up to her, she'd put off marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess's life is never entirely her own, and Eadlyn can't escape her very own Selection—no matter how fervently she protests.

Eadlyn doesn't expect her story to end in romance. But as the competition begins, one entry may just capture Eadlyn's heart, showing her all the possibilities that lie in front of her . . . and proving that finding her own happily ever after isn't as impossible as she's always thought.


I fought with myself a lot over what to rate this. 2 or 3 stars? In the end, I settled for halfway, so 2.5 stars. HOWEVER, and I want to make this crystal clear: This is a huge improvement from The Selection trilogy. Cass has made a lot of progress with this one, in my opinion.

I honestly didn't think I'd be reading this, or at least reading it this soon after its release date. Still, for some reason I really felt like reading this, and I think that may have played hugely in the book's favor. If I hadn't been exactly in the mood for something light and uncomplicated as this, I definitely, definitely don't think I would have enjoyed it quite as much.

What I loved best about this novel is that Cass took a risk. She created a very unlikable character, a self-centered, spoiled, shallow and ungenerous main protagonist. Eadlyn knew what she wanted, and she was determined to get it. She knew what she didn't like, and knew just what to do to get rid of whatever it was. She could be a downright bitch to her peers. 
But you know what? I loved Eadlyn for that. This book, in my opinion, was quite a nice nod towards feminism in that Eadlyn is always striving to make her power and presence known, to have the upper hand over these boys, make them be intimidated by her and not the other way around, only because that's usually how it is. She challenged the norm by not being the submissive, demure and obedient, blushing little girl, and refusing to turn into her, because that's simply not who she is at her core. Despite the tough exterior, however, she still wanted what's best for those she did let into her heart and cared about, namely her family. Worried about the burden her father is bearing all alone, she tries to take as much from him as possible, and support him in any way she can. 
Nevertheless, she can be extremely selfish even where her family's concerned: Always complaining about the pressure of being the future queen instead of her younger brothers, or the fact that she was egotistical enough to try and break up her brother and his girlfriend, who were obviously madly in love, only because she didn't want him to leave her.

These were all fatal flaws, and those faults actually ended up making me like her so much more. She was a bitch, and she couldn't see that on her own. Everyone around her could, and sometimes did, and they confronted her about it. In the end, she starts thinking about and reflecting that and I'm really hopeful that the sequel will result in a lot of character development coming from that. 

I also thought the other characters were really nice, at least where the royal family is concerned. I liked Kaden, how mature and wise he was for his years and that he willingly studied and learned so much simply for the sake of being a well educated and well informed prince, even without having the prospect of a throne to rule. He, as well as Eadlyn's twin Ahren, were very blunt to Eadlyn about how bitchy she could be sometimes, which was greatly appreciated. 

The romances... Well, this is where it kind of goes ugly. See, the first time Eadlyn stumbles into Kile in the hall, I already knew he was going to be a love interest. A serious one, considering. But I simply felt that there was absolutely no build-up whatsoever, they literally go from despising each other to having crushes on one another in a nanosecond. They both get really angry when his name turns up in the ballot and he's Selected, and then one day after that she invites him to her room and kisses him and has all the fluttery feels about that? I don't believe that for a second. I really, really don't. Their romance was cute, yes, but unbelievable and underdeveloped. The same goes for a lot of the romances, then again, there are so many, it's hard to truly have any sort of build-up for all of them.

Another thing is that the novel felt really predictable up until 60% through. Till that point, I was pretty sure that Kile was going to be the guy she'd end up with, no doubt, and because of that it wasn't even the least bit exciting or intense. That did change, though, and by now I honestly couldn't tell you my best guess. Those last 40% completely threw me off. It could be Erik she ends up with, for all I know. 

Oooh, world-building. It was as spectacular and splendid as in the first three books. That is to say, there was nothing going on here. It felt like walking around an empty shop, calling for the clerk non-stop and getting no answer. No one shows up. It's just  totally deserted. There's talk of riots, of an uprising; people are protesting and opposing the monarchy, they want to bring it down. It's the reason for Maxon's early gray hair even though he can't be more than around 40, and why his reign is so stressful and strenuous as it is, which conveniently opens a nice excuse to have Eadlyn ascend the throne by the time this companion duology is done, even though Maxon has reigned for just 20 years now and, come fucking on, Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for 63 years now and she's still going on strong. Anyway, they may talk about all these things, but it's never elaborated on and never really becomes an actual, personal issue for any of them. It always simply hovers there, out of reach.

Lastly, another thing I did like was the writing. It didn't seem stilted and artificial anymore, as it did in her earlier novels, and the simplistic writing style really works well with Eadlyn's narrative and her personality. Furthermore, Cass managed to make Eadlyn sound vastly different from America, which I again attribute more to their very differing personalities, but still. I think the author has improved as a writer in this installment, too.

Ultimately, I didn't expect this to end on such a cliffhanger as it did, and I have to admit I'm looking forward to the sequel a little now. I actually thought that it was going to be one book about Eadlyn and Ahren each to be honest, but I guess they're both going to be about Eadlyn and her Selection only. Oh well, I don't mind either way. I'll be reading the next one. This was quite entertaining indeed.

PS: What's up with all those weird fucking names though? Seriously, the fuck? And it's not only the strange names themselves, like Eadlyn or Osten, but also totally butchering normal, common names by spelling them completely different and ... peculiar. Kyle into Kile? Aaron into Ahren? Ian into Ean? Why was that necessary? I am the very last person to complain about eccentric names, in fact, I love eccentric names since they're usually extremely beautiful ones at that, but honestly, giving every second character in your novel a name that you're not even sure how to pronounce is not helping matters and just made me frown multiple times.
(PPS: Osten means East in German. FYI.)
(PPPS: I love the cover so damn much. It's almost a shame I was too cheap to buy a physical copy.)

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