Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: The Heir

I read the Selection series by Kiera Cass when it first came out, so I was really excited to see that she had come out with a spin-off series. The first book in the new series is called The Heir, and is about the daughter of King Mason and Queen America, who are the main characters from the original book. Eadlyn - the daughter - has to have her own Selection (where 35 young men enter to possibly woo the princess into marrying one of them...basically The Bachelorette for royalty) in order to distract the public from their growing discontent. I was glad there was a larger purpose to this Selection, but it soon became clear that that wouldn't be the main focus of the book.
It is unclear what Cass was wanting to achieve in this book; to try and get the message of the public's growing anger with the monarchy, or Eadlyn's anger about the selection. While at first it seemed like Cass would really focus on how angry the public was about the hard financial times the country seemed to be facing, she seemed more concerned with showing how bratty Eadlyn was, and how poorly she treated those around her. The first Selection series was about Mason and America - both very down to earth characters who I did not think could create a child like Eadlyn. She treats her maid, whom she claims to be very good friends with, horribly, and is very unhappy with having to go through the selection, even though it is to distract the public long enough for her poor father to find a way to help out his struggling subjects.
Cass seems to use Eadlyn's feminist mind set to excuse her poor behavior, and public shaming of the men in her selection, but it just ends up being way too forced. I totally support strong female leads in books fighting for women rights, but Eadlyn is simply portrayed as being a snobby princess used to getting her way, yet complaining about how hard her life is. She is a fraternal twin with her brother, Ahren, whom was born seven minutes after her. The laws of her country dictated that even though she was technically older, Ahren was to be king due to his gender. Because their parents were so revolutionary, and America was a big advocate of women's rights, they made it so the eldest child was to be the ruler, regardless of gender. Go them, right? Well, according to Eadlyn, very, very wrong. There is not a moment in the book when she isn't complaining about how she'll have to be queen one day, or how she is expected to get married soon. I get it, no one should be forced to marry young, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't make the best of her situation, and find a man she is actually happy with, and not some random person she's betrothed to. She has the choice between thirty-five different men who she never would have met, had the selection never happened. She could at least try and look on the bright side that she gets a choice - something that not all the royals before her had.
I love that Kiera Cass is trying to make feminism a big theme of the book. I think more and more support for women is needed, but I do not like how it was executed in this book. Instead of Eadlyn portraying a strong woman, she is petty and cruel to those around her, especially the young men partaking in the selection. I wanted so badly to root for her and her feminist ideals, but I just ending up staring at the book like this a lot:
 She questions why the public hates her, yet she gives them absolutely no reason for them to like her (i.e. at least having some sort of conscience). She insults the boys at every turn, and looks down upon people with "lower" statuses than herself. I found it hard to root for her at all, and instead was rejoicing when her brother tells her off at one point. I had such high hopes for this book since the first series had a strong woman lead, but I was deeply disappointed with this one. Eadlyn is not empathetic at all, and it was so hard to relate to her. Cass made it seem like women have to be completely rude and controlling in order to get anywhere in life. While we women have to be firm in many situations, we can also be human in order to be successful. I'm hoping Cass made us readers feel this way about Eadlyn for a reason, and maybe we will be able to see a drastic change in her for the next book, but for now I am simply disappointed. Feminism should not be portrayed as needing to be so independent to the point where women have to be cruel to anyone who tries to be remotely nice or helpful to them
All of the romance in the book is shadowed by Eadlyn's attitude towards the whole selection. She treats the selected horribly, which in turn makes the public dislike her even more. There is also the "issue" she has with literally anyone seeing the real her, or trying to get close to her. I didn't understand what the big deal was with people even asking her how her day was going, especially when she raves about how great and close her family is. The whole book was just a little bit off and forced to me, and it made me really sad. I had such higher expectations and I was definitely let down.
I hate giving bad reviews to books and movies, but honestly The Heir was not the greatest book in my opinion. It did have it's moments, and for those I just might read the next book, if only to keep up with America and Mason. But by the end of the book, I was definitely questioning why I ever picked it up in the first place. It was very disappointing that this book was a let down, because the first series was really great, and I believe Kiera Cass really is a good writer. Hopefully the next one is better!

Have you read this book? What have you been reading lately?

Thank you so much for reading, and have a wonderful day! :)

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