I’ve been wanting to add a Book Review section to my blog for a while now, and the time has finally come! I’m an avid reader of fiction, especially young adult fiction, and I’m excited to share my thoughts on the books I read. I decided to just start with the book I just finished, and go from there. I often re-read books that I’ve enjoyed, so I plan to write reviews for them as I do so from now on.
The Heir is a brand new book by Kiera Cass, released on May 5, 2015. It’s actually the fourth book in what was originally written as a trilogy, The Selection Series. I’ve read the other three books, of course, and since it’s been a while, I plan to re-read them next. The books in the series are called The Selection, The Elite, The One, and The Heir, in that order. There will be a fifth and final book coming out next year, but it doesn’t have a title yet.
The series as a whole is about a future country called Illéa in which a monarchy reigns, and the main character in The Heir is the princess and future queen, Eadlyn. She is the first female heir to the throne. In the past, the princes of Illéa would hold a competition called the Selection as a way to find their mate, who would become queen and rule beside them one day. The process involved selecting 35 random girls of the proper age from around the country, and bringing them to the palace for a months-long competition for the prince’s and the country’s affection. In The Heir, the princess is asked by her parents to hold a selection of her own, as a way to win public approval in a time of political discontent. She reluctantly participates, and invites 35 young men to the palace to try to prove their worthiness.
I’ve enjoyed the entire series so far, but this book is interesting because it switches main characters from the original three books. The first three books are about a girl named America Singer, who is a contestant in the Selection for Prince Maxon, whereas this book is about the next heir to the throne, King Maxon’s and the Queen’s daughter. I found America to be a compelling character, flawed of course, but overall a kind and compassionate and a worthwhile person to root for. In The Heir, the main character is Princess Eadlyn, and from the start her character is a bit hard to like. She’s a princess through and through, and has been badly spoiled by her upbringing. She’s selfish, inconsiderate to others, and ungrateful for what she has. She complains about silly things, tends to be dramatic, and seems blind to the fact that the world is not actually revolving around her. Okay, so this description probably could fit many teenagers, but still—most protagonists, teenaged or not, have more redeeming qualities than Eadlyn seems to have. But interestingly enough, this is one of the reasons I enjoyed the book, because I believe that her character is going to evolve and improve drastically by the end of the series. In the course of this book, she already starts to show more concern for others and realize her flaws. Watching that change happen in such a believable way is one reason this book is very interesting to me.
One of the overarching themes in the book is the struggle of vulnerability in love. Is loving others worth the potential pain you would face if you lost them? Does love make us weaker or stronger? This question has a personal place in my heart, because I struggled with this fear early in my marriage when thinking about having children. It’s been said that having children is like choosing to have your heart walk around outside of your body—and it’s so true. Having a child can bring unimaginable joy and love to your life, but it also makes you incredibly vulnerable. If anything were to happen to that child, whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others or just some random tragedy, it would completely and utterly destroy you. Yikes! That’s a scary thought. In my case, I can only overcome this fear through my faith in God, and my complete trust in Him to protect my precious child.
Love can make us vulnerable in other ways too—when we love others, we give part of ourselves away to them, and they have the power to hurt us. Loving others also means that our lives are not completely our own. We are accountable to the ones we love. I know that for some people, this struggle can keep them from letting love into many areas of their lives, whether it’s romantic love, loving friendship, familial love, or even the love of God. This book addresses this struggle in a way that’s entertaining, fun to read, and yet still meaningful.
One of the most memorable quotes for me in the book is this: “I kept thinking that I couldn’t live my life for other people, that love was nothing but chains. And maybe it was, but so help me, I needed these chains… These things didn’t make me weaker; they held my soul to the earth.” Beautiful, am I right?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I am eager to read the next one.
In closing, here is a book-review checklist that I’ve made up to cover the basics.
Plot: Fairly compelling, but some events can feel forced or unnecessarily dramatic at times.
Characters: Definitely the driving force to the book, they are well-developed.
Compulsion to read: Fairly high, and no parts were “slow” or hard for me to get through.
Ending: Cliff-hanger, adding allure to the next book.
Quality of writing: Good, felt smooth and well-written, though not as mature or sophisticated as other books.
My rating: 8/10 stars