The One by Kiera Cass is the final book in the Selection trilogy which tells the story of America Singer and her participation in the Bachelor type contest to win the heart and hand of Prince Maxon. I absolutely ADORED this book and would have happily read it had it been three times as long. Cass continued to develop the things I loved about the earlier books and my minor gripes about the series were all resolved.
Before I start I would like to reecho the comment I made in an earlier post about the Selection Collection – the ebook compendium that includes all three novels plus the two novellas, The Guard and The Prince. I honestly don’t know what the editor who put it together was thinking: they have the two novellas following on after The One which makes zero sense. The Prince is set before The Selection and The Guard is set between The Elite and The One. If you read them in the order presented in the compendium you’re going to end up frustrated because all of the great character development of the later books is reset.
What I liked
The blend. In The One, Cass has achieved a wonderful balance between romance, politics, worldbuilding and character development. It all fitted together perfectly and made a gripping story.
Character development. All three of the main characters seemed to gain a great deal of maturity in this book. This is particularly true in the case of Aspen, a character whom I’d actively disliked in earlier books. Not only did I end up liking him a lot more, but I could also respect him which is saying a lot. In general, too, I felt America handled her romantic situation in more of an adult fashion in this book, although she did have flashes of immaturity to keep her endearing. I liked that characters who’d seemed a little two dimensional such as Celeste became a lot more human as America’s growing maturity gave her a more understanding perspective of them. This was an aspect of the book that I felt was particularly beautifully written. I noted in my review of The Elite that at times it seemed that America wouldn’t necessarily be the best candidate to take on the role of princess. By the end of The One, Cass has convinced me that she can handle it.
The triangle. This was one aspect which had really irritated me about the earlier books, but I felt it was exceptionally well handled here. I appreciated that America finally resolved her feelings for the two men in her life after a date in which they had an open and honest conversation. It also helped that that date in the rain was super adorable! That’s not to say that things were plain sailing after that – she still made mistakes but that kept her human.
That scene at the winner announcement. Holy crap. It’s not often that I have to back up and reread a few paragraphs thinking bloody hell, did that just happen? But in this case I did. It caught me completely off guard. After the fact though, it’s obvious that Cass has done her work well. All the signs and foreshadowing were there if I’d been paying attention.
The narration. I’d not been too fond of Amy Rubinate’s narration of The Selection and The Elite. Perhaps it was because I enjoyed her narration of Rebel Belle so much that I did enjoy the narration of The One much more.
What I didn’t like
Aborted plotlines. There were at least one or two plotlines which really intrigued me and then seemed to disappear. One of these in particular I felt could have led to some really interesting conflict, but was resolved rather easily.
This is a very minor gripe, so do I really have to say that I gave The One five stars out of five? So far it’s one of my favourite books of the year, up there with Cress. Go read it. Now.