Kiera Cass's The Heir Kicks Off Sequel to The Selection Trilogy

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The Heir Kiera Cass The Selection Trilogy Critical Blast

*WARNING: This review has spoilers for THE SELECTION trilogy. It will NOT spoil the newest book, THE HEIR. *

As someone who absolutely loved Kiera Cass’s THE SELECTION trilogy, I was so excited when she announced a follow-up book, THE HEIR. However, I was also a bit nervous; spin-offs can be a hit or miss, and since the trilogy ended very nicely, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one.

I am happy to report that I just finished THE HEIR, and it did not let me down.

If you haven’t read THE SELECTION trilogy yet (do it!), it’s a dystopian romance series that is advertised as THE HUNGER GAMES meets The Bachelor in a future America that is run by a monarchy. America Singer is a lower class girl who begrudgingly enters into The Selection, a Bachelor-esque dating competition to win the young prince’s heart and hand in marriage. America only enters to appease her mother, as her heart is set on her childhood sweetheart Aspen. She doesn’t expect to fall for the moody Prince Maxon, but she does, and thus the plot of the trilogy; will Maxon pick America as his bride? And is America willing to give up Aspen to become the princess?

Spoiler: Yes, and yes. THE HEIR takes place twenty years later. King Maxon and Queen America’s daughter, Princess Eadlyn, is coaxed (also begrudgingly) into hosting her own Selection. But for the first time ever, the one doing the selecting is the girl, and she will pick from a pool of male suitors. The boys are just as diverse in manner as you’d expect: some are sweet, some are arrogant, some are shy, some are belligerent, some are nice, some are creepy, some are loud, and one doesn’t even speak English!

First, my gripes. I didn’t have a lot.

My biggest complaint about THE HEIR was the lack of action and action-filled subplots. In THE SELECTION, there were castes (and subsequent caste related drama), as well as two rebel groups who regularly attacked the palace, and Maxon’s awful father, King Clarkson, who had it out for America since day one. While the competition and the romance / love triangle were the main plot points, there was also a really cool dystopian society for a backdrop (I mean, dystopian with royals?? Yes please!) as well as plenty of action.

However, as I said above, THE SELECTION trilogy ends…nicely. King Clarkson is conveniently murdered, so he’s no longer a threat to anyone’s happiness. Maxon becomes king and dissolves the caste system, therefore eliminating a lot of the drama. One rebel group becomes an ally, while the other is defeated. Maxon is a kindhearted king who is not corrupt. Aspen finds another girl (also in the palace) and everyone lives happily ever after.

As you might guess, this doesn’t leave much action for the follow-up books. Therefore, I felt like a lot of the big-picture drama in THE HEIR felt a little forced. We have people still (20 years after they’re dissolved) harping on the caste system and refusing to hire people outside their former caste. In fact, it’s this drama that gets King Maxon and Queen America to persuade Eadlyn into the Selection in the first place – as a public distraction. These disgruntled civilians do things like chuck rotten food at Eadlyn during a parade, and say nasty things about her, but that’s the extent of the conflict. While THE SELECTION was more of a dystopian romance, THE HEIR has more of an upbeat Bachelorette feel; the dystopian undertones are much more subdued.

Most of this book focuses on Eadlyn’s Selection, and her interactions with the boys in it. She does not, I repeat, does NOT have any interest in ever getting married someday, let alone dating now, and therefore has a goal to make life as miserable as possible for these male suitors. She wants to wait out the three months (the time frame she promised her dad) and then send them all packing. The problem? They aren’t as bad as she’d expected, and, surprise surprise, she starts to develop feelings for them.

One thing I loved most about this book is how unapologetically feminist it is. Eadlyn knows she is more than capable of running the country herself without a man. She doesn’t let anyone push her around, and calls out sexism when she sees it. When some of the male suitors exhibit unhealthy relationship behaviors like possessiveness, stalking, touching her without her consent, and not understanding the word “no,” she immediately calls them on it, and sends them home disgraced. These behaviors are shamed, rather than romanticized. YAY.

One of the most varying and subjective opinions I’ve noticed in reviews is the opinion of Eadlyn. I’ve seen several reviews bashing Eadlyn’s character due to some of her qualities: she’s moody, self-centered, and doesn’t want to open up. I completely agree, she is, and embodies, all of these things. However, I actually liked those qualities in her. She wasn’t perfect, and throughout the book, she starts to realize and change. She doesn’t change overnight. Her character development felt natural and realistic to me.

Eadlyn also has many positive qualities, like intelligence, drive, independence, and a strong connection with her parents and brothers – especially her twin brother, Ahren. I think Eadlyn is an intriguing character, and also a good role model for teen girls.

Side note – I’m really happy to see a YA book where the parents have a strong relationship with each other, and a great relationship with their kids. I love villainized parents as much as the next reader, but sometimes I feel like I can’t find a YA book these days where family dysfunction isn’t a main plot point. (But don’t let that fool you – expect lots of teenage angst and parent-daughter disagreements!)

I think fans of THE SELECTION will enjoy this book, both as a continuation of the series, and as its own story. Fans of the original trilogy will recognize several familiar faces, and might, like me, enjoy seeing where the characters ended up twenty years after the series ended. While they aren’t main characters in THE HEIR, we see America and Maxon (AKA Mom and Dad), Aspen and Lucy, [Aunt] May, and [Lady] Marlee pretty regularly. There are several references to the original trilogy in THE HEIR, but I believe it will still be easy to follow for readers who haven’t read THE SELECTION.

The romance is toned down a bit in THE HEIR, as Eadlyn spends the first 2/3 of the book extremely closed off and not interested in getting to know the boys. But there are still several swoon-worthy and intriguing suitors (and of course some bad eggs) in the mix, not to mention a few twists among the candidates that I won’t spoil.

Fair warning: it ends on a cliffhanger, and if you’re a fan of the original trilogy, you won’t be happy with the aforementioned cliffhanger. But fear not, I think the sequel is set to come out next year.

I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews, but personally I loved this book, and breezed through it within two days. I highly recommend it!