Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Heir - Kiera Cass

Title: The Heir (Book 4 in The Selection series)
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen, 2015 (Hardcover)
Length: 342 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Dystopian Fiction
Started: May 22, 2015
Finished: May 23, 2015

From the inside cover:

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 of marriage for as long as possible.

But a princess' 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 have to admit I had the fangirl squeals when I finally had this in my hands, very few series manage to cause me to revert to a teenage girl in ecstatic anticipation. I first discovered this series last year and even succeeded in making several other grown women sing its praises. The SelectionThe Elite, and The One made up the first arc of this series, focusing on America Singer and her journey through the Selection to become Maxon's queen. I had thought the series was complete at that point and was sad to see it end, but to my surprise, the author continued it with this new instalment (with more to come thankfully).

The Heir takes us twenty years into the future in the book's universe, focusing on America and Maxon's only daughter Eadlyn, who is also the heir to the throne. Eighteen-year-old Eadlyn accepts her duties reluctantly, angry that her twin brother Ahren wasn't born first and therefore the heir, but takes them very seriously. She has a unique personality that I quite liked: she is hesitant to become involved with anyone lest the populace consider her weak, isn't quite sure anyone can be her partner and handle what she encounters everyday, and is so consumed with upholding the image of strength as the first female heir that she doesn't allow herself time to really unwind and be vulnerable to anyone. When riots over reinstating the caste system erupt over the land (America and Maxon revoked it when they ascended the throne), the royal family is at its wits end over how to potentially solve the problem. To buy themselves some time and distract the people, Maxon and America convince Eadlyn to endure a Selection, even though the process was abolished along with the caste system. Eadlyn agrees, but only on the condition that she not be forced to marry anyone if no one there strikes her fancy. Planning on simply going through the motions for the three-month process, Eadlyn doesn't realize exactly how her opinion will change as she gets to know the boys, some of which are pretty swoon-worthy.

First off, I have to give the author credit for making Eadlyn a really admirable character with a personality different from typical YA heroines. She is a person thrust into a position of power she doesn't really want because she knows she isn't necessarily the best suited for it, but does her duty and does it wonderfully well. She has to deal with sexism and harassment when she displays the hardened resolve that previous male rulers possessed but isn't necessarily warm and fuzzy like people expect a woman to be regardless of her position. And she does all this with wit and charm and determination. I love that she is the only girl with younger brothers, it's the dynamic I would've wanted had I had siblings, and Ahren, Kaden and Osten are all pretty fleshed out character-wise and are very likeable.

The Selection boys that had most of the focus in the book (Kile, Fox, Hale, Henri, Baden, Ean, and Erik, and yes I'm counting Erik) were wonderfully developed and oh so sweet, and even the ones that didn't get as much of the spotlight had their heartwarming moments. It's hard to develop a handful of characters well, let alone one or two dozen, so I have to give the author credit for doing that incredibly well.

The book of course leaves off on a massive cliffhanger, so I will be not-so-patiently waiting for next year's instalment, all the while peddling this series to anyone who hasn't yet fallen under its spell.

If you're a fan of The Selection books, you've already read this or are trying to get ahold of it. If you haven't read The Selection books yet, do it, you need a new obsession anyway.

Thoughts on the cover:
I like the continuity between America's covers and this one, highlighting Eadlyn's very different look compared to her mother.

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