Thursday, 4 June 2015

Review: The Heir by Kiera Cass

Publication Date: May 7th 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Length: 352 pages

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 off marriage for as long as possible.
But a princess's 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’m going to be upfront and say that in my eyes, The Selection was not a good trilogy. It was littered with problems, yet despite all that it was like crack. I wanted to know what happened next. So in some ways you could say it was a very good series in that despite my better judgement I kept on shelling out for the next book no matter how dirty it made me feel.
Then it was announced that there would be a new duology of books to turn this trilogy into a five book series, this time with Maxon and America’s daughter as the heroine and she would be doing a selection of her own, this time with thirty five boys. Against my better judgement I was intrigued. After all, turning the tables like this and making the boys do all the things that America and the girls had to do? Putting the woman in a position of power? All of these things sounded good to me. I was just incredibly wary about the execution.

And it turns out that was justified. I’m still feeling a little incoherent after reading this one and doing anything other than face palming is a little hard, but I’m going to try and articulate what went so terribly wrong with this one.

The biggest thing? Eadlyn herself. She was a truly terrible protagonist. I mean if Cass was aiming for one of the most unlikeable heroines in fiction then she was doing brilliantly, but really you need to have a protagonist that the reader can get behind and identify with, someone that the reader wants to know their story and their thoughts and feelings, and that really didn’t happen with Eadlyn.

She was self-centred, spoiled, insulting to everyone, manipulative and plain awful. I was hoping that she would experience some sort of growth and character arc and that by the end of the novel we might begin to see a change, to see how she could begin to grow as a person throughout the next book, but sadly that didn’t occur. She spends the entire book being downright awful to people, feeling sorry for herself whenever anyone calls her out on it and going on about how she is the Queen and there is no-one more powerful than her. I dearly wanted someone, anyone to give her a slap.

She has a serious power complex and a lot of control issues. I am all for independent women and Eadlyn not needing a man to help her rule, but actually her response wasn’t anything related to that. She was convinced she was god’s gift to the masses, and as a result was utterly awful to everyone. She goes on and on about all the work that she has to do but we never see her doing anything other than complaining, sketching and reading newspapers. I mean if her and her father rely on the newspapers to get their information then it’s no wonder the entire country is going downhill.

There was no logic to this. Maxon and America got rid of the castes but didn’t put anything in place to deal with the inevitable problems?! They don’t have advisors and, oh I don’t know, some sort of council and information from somewhere other than their newspapers?!?!? I mean you can see the state I’m in just thinking about it, overuse of punctuation and the italics function…

So there are all of the gaping holes in the country structure and running, the fact that Eadlyn is terrible and unlikeable and manipulative and then we have the boys…

Whilst in The Selection trilogy we got to see America and the girls take on tasks and lessons to help prepare them for the role of future Queen, the boys seem to end up doing nothing at all. I know Eadlyn doesn’t want to end up with any of them and wants to get rid of them as quickly as possible at the start, but it seems a little implausible that the boys wouldn’t have to go through any sort of training. Then we have the obligatory awful boys. I mean there were some pretty awful girls in America’s selection but nothing on the scale of this. It felt unrealistic when more and more ended up being awful. And we don’t really get to know any of the boys, there are a couple of vaguely stand out ones that I can just about recall their names, but on the whole they just blur into one big mush of terrible.

So it’s a bit like watching a train wreck. And yet. There it is again, that against my better judgement that I want to know what happens – and no that isn’t because of that awful cliffhanger. The series is like crack. Terrible characters, awful plot, so full of problems it should sink. But I want to know what happens. Admittedly a peering through my fingers and wincing kind of want to know, but there you have it. If you fancy a quick read that you really need to not think too hard about when you’re reading, then it will definitely pass away an afternoon in the sunshine, but don’t expect anything too much or look too hard at it, your brain will just start to hurt.

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