Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guilty Pleasures: The Elite by Kiera Cass

As you loyal readers know, we got sucked into the slough of the Selection series (slough in this case is pronounced SLEW. We just learned this today). As part of the immense fun of reading a series that cannot be taken seriously, we cannot seem to stop talking about it with each other. Volume 2, The Elite came out a month ago, and you have thismuchtime to read it before we spoil EVERYTHING by letting you in on our night of gabbery (not a real word; we just coined it today).

So Susan opened up our GoogleDoc unpacking of The Elite with the following questions.

1) Why is America so bad at human interactions?
2) How can we get rid of Maxon’s father?
3) Maxon’s mother--cool or weak?
4) Should we care about Maxon’s father when getting rid of Aspen is much more important?

We did eventually address these thought-provoking and important questions (some of them, at least), but first we had other items (a.k.a. gossip) to attend to. (From here on out, Susan is green and Alyssa is red. We are like Christmas!)

Aspen is hooking up with a maid. He will be, I mean. I forget which one, though...
YES. Though I kind of want Maxon to see him hitting on America and have him arrested.

This was followed by a bit of confusion, in which all dystopian YA books become the same book:

Now that America has decided to go all in for Maxon, Aspen is completely tangential to the plot now. Unless he becomes a secret rebel. Which might be cool. Although I don’t think he likes books enough to get recruited.
A la Gabe?
Who is Gabe?
The tangential childhood friend love interest in Hunger Games. Wasn’t his name Gabe?
Gale? Lol
Oh snap. Right. lol.

As the conversation continued, one might be led to believe that we hated this book, but au contraire! We actually enjoyed it. Don’t let our nitpickery fool you.

I’m just glad America is ready to go all in for Maxon. I could not believe her vacillation in the first half of the book. Or two thirds. Some horrible long time.
I was ready to puke with lines like these: “In Aspen’s eyes I saw a thousand different endings to that sentence, all of them connecting him to me. That he was still waiting for me. That he knew me better than anyone. That we were the same. That a few months at the palace couldn’t erase two years. No matter what, Aspen would always be there for me.” (48, sorry I have your book hostage) And then literally one page later, America is antsy because she wants to see Maxon so badly.

Yeah, they all annoyed me. America was super wishy-washy, Aspen was lame, Maxon was weird. I get that America was torn, but it didn’t need to take her THAT long to figure things out. THE WHOLE FREAKING BOOK.
America is stupid. She suffers from YA romantic lead stupidity problems.
Oh man!!! At the YA book panel, they talked about how ridiculous the names were. “She sings for a living, and she lives in what used to be America...let’s call her America Singer, and then not have to describe her character at all!”
LOL. I was wondering if her father was a singer too, or if he was a potter or something. How far back do these names go? “I’m Gregory Illéa, and I decree that whatever job you are doing TODAY will be your last name!”?

Then Voldemort made a visit to Illéa:

hahaha. Must be the case. Also, I think that the Gregory Illéa diary entries were a lot like Tom Riddle’s soul speaking to Ginny Weasley and then Harry through the diary. I wish there had been a big basilisk around to eat Aspen.
Yes, only Gregory Illea had the writing abilities of a 7th grader. Although I must admit, I do want to know what he did with his daughter. Who he sold her off to, I mean. Do you think there are people on the interwebs with theories about this sort of thing? Is it that popular? Are the fans that rabid? I do love a good crackpot theory.
Tom Riddle had the writing abilities of only a 10th grader. And that didn’t really help him. I think Illéa did much more in the long-run than Voldey did. Wasn’t she sold off to some European royal house?
Tom Riddle was a 10th grader at the time, though, right? Gregory Illea was middle-aged. Not that I’m arguing in favor of Voldey, I just think he probably had more smarts that Greggy-poo.

Next up was the debate about the fate of Scandinavia in the world Cass has created:

lolz. “Katherine was finally married today to Emil de Monpezat of Swendway. She sobbed the whole way to the church until I made it clear that if she didn’t straighten up for the ceremony, there’d be hell to pay afterward.” So she married into the combined Swedish/Norwegian royal house. (Do you think the author realizes that those two really did share a throne in history?)
OMG. You are so smart. I got the Sweden part, but not the Norway. Hah! What creative names... Why not Swendwaymarkland? Get all of Scandinavia in one go?
That would make so much more sense. Especially because I fail to see how the Swedish/Norwegian royal house would automatically get Greggy into a royal league. Sweden has a good economy and all, but their king is kind of unpopular right now, and I don’t think anyone really cares about Norway. The current crown princess of Sweden is half-liked, but that’s not too strong either. Ah logic. I must remember to set it free before I open the books.

THEN we finally got to the first question: Why is America so bad at human interactions?

Because she had no friends! As she loves to tell us! She would be a feral child, if not for her family. Her only male, non-familial interaction EVER seems to have been Aspen. Maybe she just falls in love with every dude her age she meets? Since she’s only met 2 so far, and has had a thing for both of them.

Which led to the question…how did she and Aspen even meet?

Oh, good point. I forgot that we didn’t know that. I had just assumed they met at school, but I guess they don’t go to school in the lower caste world in Illéa.
Aspen went to school, but America didn’t because she was homeschooled. Which was weird to me. You would think a higher caste would have better education opportunities. But maybe they just think if you’re going to be some sort of artist, artistic training is all you need.

Probably we aren’t as nice and class-blind as America, given our next thoughts:

But why bother sending Aspen’s caste to school? Why do they need to learn to clean houses and carry things?
So he can learn to read the labels on the bottles of cleaning product?
lmao. It’s so obvious when you put it that way.

At this point, discussion of previously posed questions dissipated and made way for ones invented on the spot.

All right, I have a question. Riddle me this, Batman--how do you think the author is going to make the competition for Maxon interesting for readers, since we are pretty certain he’s going to end up with America?
It’s going to be FORBIDDEN LOVE! Maxon’s father is 100% against America becoming the crown princess. And Maxon may not fully trust America as he continues to hang out with Kriss.

And then we came to a discussion of the nadir of Maxon’s character development.

Oh, not related---the Celeste make-out session with Maxon was straight out of my letter game*. Kiera Cass is probably my letter game partner using a pen name, taking my plot devices!
Omg that part was so hilarious. Maxon all, “I have NEEDS!” Nice try dude, but that excuse doesn’t really work when you have PROCLAIMED YOUR LOVE FOR ANOTHER. I’m actually surprised the monarchy hasn’t instituted polygamy. ALL OF THE GIRLS for the king/prince. That’s what the Selection is really for. That would be the gritty dystopian version of the Selection--all the girls are sent off to be sister-wives of a monarch they’ve never met. Tributes, like from the Hunger Games! Only for marrying, not killing!
OMG WRITE IT!!! I think both of us should start writing fanfiction for this series. It’s too easy to come up with absurd plots.

*Letter games are when friends write chapters of stories as letters to the characters being written by each other. Susan and a friend from high school wrote a 24-letter story this way years ago. Read Sorcery and Cecelia to see a successful letter game.

(Alyssa did go on to write the first chapter of this fanfiction. Susan would gladly read it to interested parties, except it makes her laugh too hard to speak.) And now we have some helpful graphics inspired by The Elite:

Where are the PR judges when you need them?

"[America's] dress was white, gauzy, and light, adorned with one long stream of green and blue tulle running along the right side. The bottom fell in such a way that it looked like a cloud, and its empire waist added a level of virtue and grace to the gown." (Kiera Cass, 2013)

 photo Eliteproject-runway America's dress in The Elite (Kiera Cass)

This is better with some zooming...

Read This / Eat That Assesses the Characters of The Elite photo EliteCharacterApproval_zps2719d1ff.png

There is a document with a comment and page number corresponding to every fluctuation on this chart. Sometimes we get carried away.

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