I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY (YA romance) - I have been anxiously awaiting the release of The One and was pleased to find that Kiera Cass decided to give us something to placate us in the meantime. This book is two separate novellas that give the viewpoints of Maxon and Aspen. If you've been following The Selection series, you will know it's about a competition between 35 young girls wishing to become the wife of Prince Maxon. The main character, America, is in the competition but still has feelings for her old BF Aspen, who is a guard at the palace and watching the competition unfold. It's the ultimate love triangle, not to mention all the tension between the competitors. (Do you watch The Bachelor on TV?)
This book is enjoyable, but there's really nothing new that happens. It's basically the same story as The Selection and The Elite, but it tells where the guys were and what they were doing/thinking when events occurred. You will hear how nervous Maxon was about the competition and how he accidentally met America before it started and liked her immediately. Aspen's perspective is basically about his devotion to "Mare" (nickname for America) and his dislike for Prince Maxon.
If you love this series as I do, you might want to hear these short novellas but, as I said, the story doesn't really progress from the ending of the last book. There's a preview of The One at the end but, again, nothing really new happens.
PERFORMANCE - The stories of Maxon and Aspen each have a different narrator. They both do good jobs, though I think they pronounce the name of the country differently than Amy Rubinate. Amy is back to narrate the preview at the end.
OVERALL - If you are thinking about listening to this series, don't start here. Start with The Selection and then hear The Elite. The series is easy listening, romantic and thoroughly enjoyable. There is no sex and only a little mild violence, so it's recommended for all ages. Not a book for guys.
STORY - My husband and friends would probably tease me for listening to this book. The characters are teenaged girls, and the story is a combination of the TV show The Bachelor and the Cinderella fairy tale -- girls competing for a prince. It's chick lit all the way!
In this second book, The Selection has now become "The Elite," with only six competitors left from the larger original number. There are rivalries between the girls, as you might imagine. The main character, America, is not sure she's over the relationship with her old BF, who is now a guard at the palace where the competition is taking place. So there's a love triangle going on during the competition, plus the kingdom is experiencing political unrest and is under attack.
It may be teenaged chick lit, but there's a lot that's going on in the story that I find totally enjoyable. It's a light, easy listen, with lots of young, innocent romance thrown in. I might be stupid at my age for enjoying this series, but I do. I can't wait for the third and final book to come out to see how everything ends up. (These books must be listened to in order, as each one leads into the next).
NARRATION - The reader has an unusual way of reading which I can't quite describe. It sort of bothered me for maybe an hour into the first book, but after that I thought she was perfect for the rest of that book and this one as well.
OVERALL - For females about 15 and up. There's no inapproprite language or situations. It might be too immature for some listeners, but not this one.
STORY - As a rule I don't like sad books or movies, but I decided to take a chance on this one for the sake of variety and also the very high ratings. I was not disappointed. The only reason I didn't rate this book a 5 is because it was -- well, predictably sad. The story is about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who both have cancer and fall in love. They are both very smart, mature for their years and have healthy attitudes about their illness. The story doesn't dwell on tear-jerking descriptions of their symptoms and suffering. It is more about how they struggle to just be normal teenagers and try to do what other kids their age do. That is what's so sad, the fact that they just accept amputations, tubes and treatments as normal, often joking about their own shortcomings.
Despite the sadness, it is a beautifully written story and I couldn't stop listening. Hazel and Gus are loveable teenaged characters and their story seems very real. The truth that serious illnesses affect children is something we don't like to think about, but sometimes we need to be reminded.
NARRATION - The reading of this story is good, but there is nothing special about the performance.
OVERALL - If you don't mind a good cry, I would definitely recommend this book.