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I felt a little self conscious reading The Elite by Kiera Cass on the Jersey transit train from Asbury Park back to Brooklyn, but after taking my tiny nieces to Boo at the Zoo, I didn’t have the energy for anything challenging. Besides, who cares what other people think about my awesome reading choices. I stopped hiding the very tough-looking cover a few pages in after returning to the palace and finding myself … engrossed again.

This is the sequel to The Selection, an entertaining book that made me eat my words for, ahem, making fun of my younger sister for reading it. I know.

The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera Cass

Only America and five other girls remain in the running for Prince Maxon’s heart. They’ve all moved up to the third caste, but only one will be the new Princess of Illea. Coming from Five, the lowest caste of all the girls left, America’s life and ability to help her family has already drastically improved, but she’s starting to see how much more she could do as the princess.

As anyone who’s ever watched a full season of The Bachelor (I was tricked into it with ‘smores and wine, you gotta believe me.) could have predicted from day one, America’s feelings for Maxon have turned into something more than friendship. And now she’s having a tough time surrendering her heart knowing he’s also dating five other girls.  Plus there’s Aspen, her former and possibly still love, now serving as a guard outside her bedroom door.

Once again I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this series. For such a simple premise, it’s really well written and America is an increasingly likable heroine. Unlike many other YA books, the story isn’t centered around the love triangle. ‘Mer’s emotionally invested and once she realizes how hard the other girls are competing, the stakes soar.

And there it was, pushing up through all the worries: hope.

While there are some serious moments, The Elite is even more of a guilty pleasure than The Selection. There’s tension, romance and the plot doesn’t drag as ‘Mer plays the whole internal “Should I stay or should I go now” in her head.

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