The Crown – Kiera Cass

This is the fifth and (supposedly) final book in The Selection series, which started way back, 20 years ago, with America Singer competing for the hand (and the heart) of Prince Maxon, and as such is also our last chance for those royal pretty dresses. No fear, though – Cass has also got gorgeous dresses on the covers of other books (or at least one other book) so hopefully there will be more examples of this to come in the future.

In terms of actual story, well, The Heir left us on quite a cliffhanger. I don’t know if I ever actually reviewed it, but let me just say that I didn’t like it at all. According to GoodReads, I gave it two stars, and I recall being disgusted with a) Eadlyn as a person, b) the predictability of her suitors and their behaviour and c) the cliffhanger it ended on – it just felt like needless drama and making people wait around and buy another book. The Heir was 342 pages, so not exactly a behemoth of a book, and really, it felt like a cheap trick to stretch the story out into a second book, as there wasn’t that much of Eadlyn’s story left to tell.

So then, we were on to

The Crown – Kiera Cass

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When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Eadlyn still isn’t sure she’ll find the fairytale ending her parents did twenty years ago. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and soon Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more impossible—and more important—than she ever imagined.

In terms of my three concerns, two of them were actually alleviated. I enjoyed The Crown more than I thought I would – a whole lot more, in fact. I only read it because I wanted to be sure that I had finished out the story, but I thought I could have predicted it relatively easily, and I was going into the book with low expectations and decidedly uncharitable feelings towards it.

However! I was pleasantly surprised, in terms of both characterisation and plot. Not in terms of length, because not a whole lot happened – at less than 300 pages, The Crown is really very short, and with some good editing, the two books could well have been melded seamlessly into one (like it was originally supposed to be). But I guess that’s the way things work these days – they have to be split, because of reasons (money???).

This book is in no way a standalone. It cannot support itself. It’s very much the conclusion of The Heir, and I really don’t think it needed to be a book on its own. Rather, if it were the second half of a slightly longer The Heir, I would have thought it was really quite good.

Taken as a whole, between The Heir and The Crown, I actually ended up quite liking Eadlyn’s story. She was, in the beginning, a spoiled princess (literally!), but by the end of the books, she comes across as a much more likeable, well-rounded, and sympathetic person. I was really quite surprised, and pleased, by this development, as it had previously seemed like she was really quite stuck in her ways.

Similarly, the romance in the books (or should I say romances!), which seemed so cut-and-dried at the beginning, really turned out to be more nuanced than I expected, and a pleasant surprise at the end, as Eadlyn chose her suitor.

I can’t say too much more about the plot, as really it’s all very spoilery, for both The Heir and The Crown, but I was really pleased with how The Crown turned out, and surprised by how pleased I was – I thought The Selection (trilogy) was very mediocre, and was bitterly disappointed by The Heir, but The Crown did a lot for clawing back credibility and goodwill, and I would actually, in the end, recommend the two books together. I still think they could easily have been a single book, of course, but I suppose everything has its flaws.

 

Four Stars
****

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