The Elite by Kiera Cass

Caution: This review contains spoilers from book one, The Selection.

One aspect of this book that I liked is that it follows the first book, The Selection, almost seamlessly. When reading a sequel, I usually find that it takes me several pages or chapters to “get back into” the story, and I appreciated that The Elite begins more or less where The Selection ends.

America Singer is left with a position as one of 6 remaining Selected girls (known as the Elite), and a choice between her dearest Aspen and the charming prince Maxon.

I found this book to be darker than The Selection, with an expansion on the situation with the rebel attacks on the castle, Illéa’s history, and the conflict created by the caste system. As tension rises within the dwindling group of Elite, as the danger of the rebels becomes far more apparent, and as America discovers more about the founding of Illéa, the Selection no longer seems like a frivolous game.

I was a bit disappointed in the shift in America and Maxon’s friendship, though it might have been expected given the need for conflict in the story. The understanding and casual words that passed between the two of them in The Selection morph into a complicated, less transparent relationship as America’s feelings for Maxon become more apparent.

Because of her growing desire for Maxon’s heart, America grows mistrustful of him and the other girls, and she begins to make decisions that seem less measured than those she made before. I liked how America was kind and helpful to the girls in the beginning of the Selection, but in this book, as her feelings for Maxon grow, she begins to see them more as opponents. Though she maintains her courageous and strong character, America allows herself to be pulled further in to the competition, meaning more uncertainty and distrust.

Additionally, I did feel like some of the conflict between Maxon and America might have been unrealistic; if they truly loved each other, wouldn’t they trust each other more and be able to express their thoughts to each other? Nevertheless, I realize that America and Maxon are both filled with doubt and worry about the decisions set before them (for instance, America debates between Maxon and Aspen: princess or Six?), and are no doubt unsure of many things–even each other.

What I admired about The Elite as well as The Selection was that Maxon did not appear like some two-dimensional character. Despite his privileged position, he is still influenced and pressured by his father, and he feels great responsibility in his choice for a princess–he feels he must not only consider his own happiness, but that of his future people and his father as well.

If you enjoyed The Selection and are eager to follow America’s story further, this is the perfect book! Additionally, it leaves off with 4 Elite … Maxon’s decision draws closer with the close of the second book.

– Mia T.

The Elite by Kiera Cass is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

 

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire is set two years after the end of World War II in New Orleans. The play follows the lives of two differentiating sisters: Stella Kowalski and Blanche Dubois. 

Stella chose to leave their home in Belle Reves to marry Stanley Kowalski and explore the reality of the world. Meanwhile, Blanche held on to the fake riches and luxury of Belle Reves until all her loved ones died. 

Blanche brings the daydreams and illusions of her Southern Belle persona to visit her sister. While she lives in the cramped flat with Stella and Stanley, Blanche builds a fake personality to charm everyone and hide her dark past. Eventually, Stanley reveals Blanche’s secrets to Stella and uncovers what truly drove her to insanity – desire.

 Thus, the play focuses on the theme of illusion versus reality. Williams shows the audience of the terrible consequences that come from not owning up to your own actions. He emphasizes the ideal “Romantic” era in contrast to the cruel reality of World War II’s effect. 

The play’s symbols, irony, and allusions tie in beautifully in order to make the reader understand the underlying tragedy. However, this classic book is recommended for analytical individuals or for those who want to reach out of their comfort zone. I loved reading this dramatic literature as I am sure others would too.

-Zohal N. 

Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Another Country by James Baldwin

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This novel explores all aspects of maturity, including homosexuality, marriage, death and friendship. Of course at first this book sounded somewhat uncomfortable to me and I really didn’t want to read it. But because over the course of the period I have became the biggest of the James Baldwin I eventually decided to read it at last.

Initially, Rufus Scott is definitely a character that me, or almost everyone can relate with. At one point during our lives, we wonder what really is the point of life or why should we exist on this earth? I get tired of constantly changing faces and hiding my real self as if happiness was only mask on my face, I only peel it off when I go into my room and throw it in the trashcan. Only with Rufus Scott, he goes to the extreme and directly suicides. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s got a family there to support him, or at least half of the family.

Moving on the marriage between Cass and Richard pretty much presents a typical style of American life. One person has an affair, and the marriage breaks. Both people are not excellent parents but they still love their kids in my opinion. This also reflects how parents in real life tend to neglect the real needs of their kids due to their own stress or jobs.

-Coreen C.

Another Country by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

In a Perfect World By Laura Kasischke

inaperfectworld_laurakasischkeIn a Perfect World, by Laura Kasischke is about a flight attendant, Jiselle, getting proposed to by Mark Dorn, the captain of the plane she works on. At first, she is overjoyed. All the other flight attendants dreamed of marrying Captain Dorn and Jiselle can finally quit her job which she never truly enjoyed. She also cannot wait to meet her three stepchildren. Camilla, Sara, and Sam.

However, after a few months, Jiselle is not quite as excited as she first was about her choice to marry Captain Dorn. Her stepdaughters, especially Sara hate her and try to make her experience as Mark’s wife as miserable as possible. Ever since the outbreak of the Phoenix flu, a fictional disease, which originated in the US and is spreading quickly, Mark’s job as a pilot is becoming riskier and he is gone longer and longer hours. Jiselle often finds herself alone in the house looking at old photos and realizing that she could never replace Mark’s ex-wife, Joy who died trying to protect Sam.

One day, everything takes a turn for the worse when Mark calls Jiselle and tells her that he is being held in quarantine. Left alone to take care of he stepchildren, Jiselle must make the best of this situation even though everything in her life is slowly falling apart.

I enjoyed this book very much. It never had a dull moment and had a fantastic ending. It captivated me and before I knew it, I was on the last page. I would definitely rate this book a 10/10 and recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

-Matthew R.

In a Perfect World is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library