This book started off terribly but got progressively better in the middle, and then went spiraling downhill again in the end. In fact, up until reading the very last chapters, I was ready to give this book four stars–it was even better than The Elite–and I hadn’t been expecting that–but then Kiera Cass had to ruin it with a loosely tied plot.
The Writing: The writing was just as good as the other two books, except that in The One, it was a lot less predictable and a lot more entertaining than in The Elite and in The Selection. Once again, Kiera Cass had me turning every page for more, and with every page she had me falling more in love with America and Maxon and the use of description was minimal yet convincing enough that I could see it all happening as I read on.
However, there were several tropes here that simply did not set well with me. I should make it clear that I am not one of those people who gives a book bad ratings just because the writer used one or two cliché–with me, it depends on the writing; I have given five stars to many books whose writers were skilled enough to make even the most used tropes sound interesting and not painfully unoriginal.
In The One, Kiera Cass unfortunately failed to do that but she gets a star from me for her consistency in her writing style.
The Characters: Although I wanted to throw this book in America’s face in the very first chapter, my love and respect for her grew as I read on. I loved her character arc here, and even though she was often portrayed as the damsel in distress, I loved how even in the most hopeless situations she found a way to do what she believed in. She sends a strong message in this book than in the other two books, and once scene in particular really moved me–when she had to stand up to the king in front of all of Illea to save an innocent man from being unjustly punished.
Maxon’s character too had an interesting arc but it did not impress me as much as America did. While reading The One, I couldn’t help but think several times that America didn’t really need either Maxon or Aspen–she was just fine on her own. That being said, I loved her and Maxon’s teamwork, and I thought it really showed how equal they stand next to each other even though one was born a royalty and the other was just a impoverished nobody.
The other characters (with the exception of Aspen who was all but pushed into the sidelines) played a bigger role in this story than they did and the previous two books, and I really liked the change in their relationships with America. Admittedly I’d seen it coming from a mile away (I’d actually predicted it while reading the The Selection) but it was written so beautifully that I have no complaints.
The Plot: Between The Elite and The One (I’m not counting The Selection because I still feel it had no plot), the latter had a much better and more interesting plot than the former. The One focuses extensively on the rebels, on the castes, and explores the extent of oppression in Illea. And while some of the events were unrealistic, I still loved it. It had a lot more action and a lot more politics than in The Elite, and although I can’t call the plot airtight, it’s good enough for me to give this book an extra star.
The Ending: This is where this book failed me. While I did get the ending I was hoping for, I sure didn’t like the way it came about. Since I refuse to give away spoilers, I’ll just say that the happy ending in this book was purely accidental–had certain events been different, we would have been reading a very different ending. In fact, this series ended the way it did simply because that was how the writer wanted it to end–and not because the characters did something to get it. After all the buildup of suspense and action during the last quarter of the book I was extremely disappointed to see this book end in such a sudden and fate-solved-everything kind of way.
I also hated the way Maxon and America’s relationship turned out in this book. I am not a big fan of soul mates in any story (unless it’s L. J Smith’s Night World series)–I like stories where couples learn to love each other and be happy with each other. I was hoping that in The One we would get to see Maxon and America develop their relationship and learn to trust each other more, but that didn’t happen unfortunately.
Another thing I hated about the ending was the way Aspen’s story ended here. I honestly didn’t see it coming, and usually, I like that. I like the element of surprise in a book. I think its necessary sometimes. But there’s also this important thing called foreshadowing that every writer needs to use so that their “surprise element” doesn’t make the reader feel like they’d just been hit by a truck.
Now that I have finished the entire series, I find myself having mixed feelings. Normally when I finish a series my first reaction is something along the lines of this–
I guess, for me, The Selection series was a once-read only.
This is not part of the review, but whether or not you like this series, you must watch this amazing fanmade video by xXBelleMarieXx here