When I finished reading The Heir yesterday I was reluctant to read the last book in the Selection series. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to continue reading when the previous book was so lacking both in plot and character development, but eventually I decided to at least give the last book a chance. And I’m kind of glad I did because I liked The Crown better than The Heir. Before I delve into this let me first give you a short description about what this book is about.
When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.
Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.
If you have read my review of The Heir you know I had some problems with Eadlyn’s character. Luckily, her selfishness and whining are reduced to a minimum in this book and Eadlyn seems to have grown up almost overnight. The scare she got from what happened to her mother and seeing her father so desperate has made her realise that there are more important things than her freedom of choice and her independence. Seeing her family in disarray and despair teaches her that love is one of the most important things in the world. Not just love for her family, but also love for her kingdom, her subjects and all the boys that have come to the palace to win her hand and have done nothing but been friends to her. Finally we see a princess that cares! Because of this The Crown instantly became a much better read than The Heir.
The improvement in Eadlyn’s attitude is not enough to save this series however. This last book seems incredibly rushed. In the beginning of the book Eadlyn sends almost all the remaining boys home because of the condition of the queen, only six of them remain. I can understand that this is a sound decision, but it nevertheless comes across as a simple trick by the author to get rid of some characters. This sense of ‘taking the easy way out’ gets enhanced by the fact that two of the six remaining boys turn out to be gay and in love with each other. This wouldn’t have come as such a big surprise if the author had done some foreshadowing but the way it is written it’s as if the author just came up with it to ditch two more characters. I did suspect that one of the boys didn’t like girls because of a deal he tried to close with Eadlyn, but the other boy didn’t come across as not being interested in a real relationship with Eadlyn. Another one of the boys admits to Eadlyn that he hasn’t got romantic feelings for her and that he sees her more as a friend of sorts. Again an easy way out.
To throw in some tension a new character is added. A young man who is out to steal the crown but who pretends to be a friend for Eadlyn in these hard times. This author trick falls a bit short because every reader can see the evil twist coming from a mile away, even though Eadlyn seems to be too daft to suspect that her new ally is in fact an enemy. It would have been far more interesting if the author had used the troubles in the kingdom to her advantage to create some real tension, but this is where this series fall short. The unrest in the kingdom is mentioned a couple of times throughout the books, but we never ‘see’ it!!! If an author tells me that revolution is about to break out I want to read about flags being set ablaze, about armed protests on the street, about palace officials being attacked. And I could go on and on. My point, however, is that revolutions and revolts are preceded by small events that escalate over time. It’s not enough to just tell the reader that people hate the monarchy and that they are starting to revolt. Without some form of proof for the reader the writing falls short and fails to impress.
Then the romance… Cass’s books thrive on romance and romantic suspense. That’s what made the Selection trilogy enjoyable to read. However, the love in this two book series wasn’t really well-developed. In The Heir Eadlyn was afraid to love, leading her to keep her distance from everybody. In The Crown Eadlyn does a 180 degree turn and is suddenly madly in love with Erik, the translator for one of the boys from the selection and thus not one of the participants she can choose from. At the same time she begins to care for all the remaining boys from her selection. While I do think the feelings between Eadlyn and Erik were sweet and true, this relationship was also rushed. Within the span of some 50 pages Erik and Eadlyn transform from two people who have shared two short conversations and some innocent but sweet moments to soulmates who share a love that was fated…
I enjoyed this book better than The Heir because of Eadlyn’s changed personality and Erik and their love. However for me the tension fell flat and there were too many holes in the plot and easy tricks by the author to solve problems she created herself in the first book. It was a nice read, but certainly not great. I would not recommend this spin-off to most readers unless you enjoy a simple book without much depth and without worldbuilding or sound character development. Every now and then easy books like these are enjoyable, but I like stories that are more developed than these two books were.