In true binge-reading fashion, I ordered The One overnight upon finishing The Elite and finished it in two days. And in true …me (?) fashion, I feel the same way about it that I did about the previous two books in The Selection series (reviews here and here). It was not, by any means, the most groundbreaking literature I’ll ever read, but was definitely entertaining, even addictively so.
Again, not a whole lot “happens” for the majority of The One that hasn’t occurred in the previous novels. At this point, the competition has been narrowed down to four girls who, in between loitering aimlessly in the Women’s Room and enduring perpetual rebel attacks (am I the only one a little baffled by just HOW shitty the security is in the Royal Palace?) – also undergo what feels like ten new “challenges” of sorts. It’s probably not actually ten (maybe more like two, I can’t be bothered to fact check), but each presents some sort of test of each girls’ ability to
blindly do whatever King Clarkson wants be a leader. Miraculously, America finds a way to defy each challenge, due to her innate and unwavering sense of honor. This results in simultaneously angering the king, pushing Maxon away, and winning the hearts of restless public. Not exactly new territory here.
Moving on, one thing that I really, truly, enjoyed is the warmth and camaraderie that’s developed between girls who were tearing each others’ hair out two books ago. During the moments where the girls finally start to get along and do funny girly bonding stuff that girls do, I felt the veneer of my cynical guard momentarily crack and actually found myself smiling real smiles for them. The day America says is her best day in the palace is also my favorite part of the book, and one of the most genuine moments of the whole series. The growing friendships between the girls teaches readers the importance of forgiveness, and that everyone, regardless of their privilege, also has their own pain. They’re still in competition with each other, but they also know that the others are all they have – the only people in the world who can truly understand what they’re going through. It warmed my crotchedy old heart. Love of the romantic sort usually ends up being a little different than you read about in books. Friendship, that’s easier. Whoa, did I just write real words about feeling real feels from this series? Now THAT is girl power!
As for the ending, well, there’s no way I can begin to go into that without giving something away. I will say there was a pretty wild plot twist near the end that I guess I SHOULD have seen coming but instead caught me way off guard, to the point of actually feeling shock. Then there were some other things resolved that Cass had been alluding to since early on – those of which I did see coming (which I want to brag about foreseeing but won’t). The ending feels a bit abrupt after the twists that occur and I feel like in general, the characters are all just a liiiiiiiiiitle too cavalier about certain events that should really be given more deference in real life. But all in all, this was a really good, really satisfying ending to America’s narrative in the series. I’m looking forward to reading The Heir at some point, but I may give myself a little breather and try to re-grow some braincells on another book first.
Have you read The One? What did you think?