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The One (The Selection #3), by Kiera Cass
So now, after about a year of waiting, we get to see whether Maxon thinks that he and the woman he decided on in the earliest weeks of The Selection really are compatible. The jury's still out, so far as I'm concerned. I'm still flatly against America ending up with Aspen, though. Not that that will be a problem, I don't think..
Also, there's still no map in this book.
Much of the plot of "The One" is based around the developing relationships among the characters. As the book opens, things get tense among the remaining four members of the Elite. The King tells America that the other girls are giving Maxon more sexually than she is, so she sets out to seduce Maxon. Maxon is tempted, but he knows that this behavior is not true to America, and so he refuses. After this, the Elite trade stories about how far they've gone with Maxon and the relationship among the women begins a tentative turnaround.
The Queen tells America that the other girls of the Elite will be the ones that the winner will rely on to help them during her early days as Princess, and, sure enough, during the following weeks, the four young women grow closer together. We already know that America and Kriss want Maxon for himself, and as the book progresses we find out what is motivating Celeste and Elise, as well.
The things that America does that rock the boat actually begin to endear her to the people of Illéa and she pulls into first place in the popularity polls. This upsets the King, who tries to sway public opinion against her.
I knew that some things had to happen in "The One." I believed that there were two secrets that had to be revealed, and that America would have to leave the Palace compound to find out what the rebels wanted. I figured that America would be kidnapped by either the Northern or Southern rebels because that seemed to be not only the most direct way for America to find out what the rebels wanted, but also would ratchet up the drama. I kind of dreaded it, because I thought that a kidnapping would stall the forward momentum of the emotional arc but it truly seemed to be the most efficient way to do it. I won't say whether America does get kidnapped, or what the two secrets that I suspected had to come out were (because those would be spoilers), but I will say that the things that I predicted did come to pass without harming the emotional arc of the story.
In fact, I liked nearly everything about this book. One of the scenes of the book seemed kind of reminiscent to me of a scene in a similar position in a book in a different series but it didn't seem derivative, just kind of odd. Other than that, the emotional content seemed to move forward at the appropriate pace and, though "love" was definitely important, the thing that saved the day was the characters telling the damn truth, and that was refreshing.
I do have one thing that bothers me, so bear with me while I get up on my soapbox for a moment. I'll try to make it fast. At one point, America is told that eliminating the Twos and Threes would ruin the lives of the rest of the castes. The example given is taking out the pop stars and how that would leave backing musicians, studio technicians, and so forth without a job. This sounds an awful like that "makers and takers"/"job creators" nonsense that has dominated public discourse for the last few years. The fact is that all levels are interdependent. The workers, well, work. Let's take a bag of carrots. First there are the farmers, who grow and harvest the carrots. Then someone has to put the carrots in the bag. Someone else has to carry the carrots to the stores where they will be sold. And still someone else has to do the work of selling the carrots. The workers level also drives the economic wheel from the consumers side as well. The people who bagged and transported and sold the carrots also likely will be among the people who will buy the carrots from the store The store provides value as well. Maybe the people who shop at the store would be able to get carrots without the store, but the store definitely makes it easier and more economical for the consumers to acquire the carrots without having to call all of the local farmers who grow carrots in hopes that one will still have some in stock and then take the time out to travel to the farmer (or the local farmer's market) and buy the carrots. All the consumer has to do is drive to the store and the carrots will be there waiting. The store helps the people, and the people help the store. Both sides would be poorer without the other.
320 words. Not as short as I'd hoped, but still fairly concise, I think.
On the "this book needs a map" front, I figured out that "Angeles" must be Los Angeles, rather than Port Angeles. During the events of "The One," America experiences her first rainfall since she arrived in Angeles. Port Angeles is in the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest. Since this series takes place in the autumn and winter, if Angeles were Port Angeles, it would be rainy nearly all of the time. Also, America actually uses the term "town" to refer to Carolina, so it is likely that Carolina is not the name of her province, or is the name of both the town and the province. Other than that, I'm still lost, as it were.