I loved the first installment of this series, The Selection. I literally fell into the book and emerged excited and in love with a new author. I followed America through the rest of the series, thrilled that author Cass found a way to look at a reality tv dating show in a way that made the women likeable. The follow up books were good, but they were not to the same level as the first one.
Often the longer series go one, the worse they get. This is especially true when an author decides to come back to a finishesed series and add a new book or 1000. (Piers Anthony, I am looking at you.) So it was with mixed feelings that I picked up The Heir by Kiera Cass from my local book pusher a.k.a. The Library.
So when I saw The Heir, I got excited but I also thought about how series can be a tale of diminishing returns. Well two days after I picked this book up, I am done. Cass has done the next to impossible, made the fourth book of a series as good as a first.
This book tells the story of Eadlyn, the eldest child of America and Maxom and, by seven minutes, the heir to the thone of Ileya. She has been raised to be queen and is a strong, compentent young woman. Eadlyn has also been raised on the stories of her parents’ romance and knows she doesn’t ever want that. Instead, she has held herself alook from her peers and is seen is quite reserved.
But though her parents have desolved the caste system of old, there is disillusionment as the youth of the country find it difficult to get jobs and move ahead, because caste prejudices are ingrained. There are riots and attacks. America and Maxom feel that the population need a distraction while they figure out a way to help their people. They approach Eadlyn with the idea of to have a Selection to choose a husband.
Initially Eadlyn is intially horrified with this idea. Her parents have promised to never to marry her off to a foriegn prince, how was this different? But she agrees to do it under certain conditions, which includes that she doesn’t have to marry the winner if she doesn’t want to. Eadlyn sees this as a win-win situation where she can help her parents and gain her freedom at the same time. She has every intention of chasing away the boys as fast as possible and not investing herself in the process.
But, as she moves through the process, she discovers several things. One, she is not beloved by her people as she believes. They are angry and the monarchy might not survive the death of her parents. Two, that her parents’ romance isn’t as storied as she was lead to believe. They never told her details about Maxon’s father’s attempts to control the process, nor about America’s fight with Celeste. Three, and most important, Eadlyn learns that she can’t control the Selection process. The men will not be puppets, as they apparently have hopes, dreams and agendas of their own. Worse, she is developing feelings towards some of the men, something she never dreamed possible.
Eadlyn is a a strong, often headstrong, lead to this story. She has been raised her whole life to be queen. Her morning mantra is “You are Eadlyn Schreave. You are the next person in line to run this country, and you will be the first girl to do it on your own. No one is as powerful as you.” Eadlyn is difficult and, at times, her own worst enemy. She makes painful mistakes, and comes off rude and self-centered. Yet at the same time, she is portrayed as an atractive young woman that is desirable beyond her crown. Yes, some of the men in the Selection are there because they are attracted to the wealth and titles they would get by marrying Eadlyn, but others find her beautiful and are attracted to her strength and intelligence.
To have a romantic lead in a teen romance be a woman with all the power is AMAZING (she can have people killed) and Cass handles that remarkably well in her writing. For that reason alone, you should read this book, but the book is also full of characters that entice you and pull you in. Cass has also written the book in the first person, a technique that tends to pull me in faster. The books ends on a cliffhanger, so there is at least another book featuring Eadlyn in the future, something I am thrilled about.
Go get this.