Book Review – The Heir by Kiera Cass

the heir - book coverI wasn’t blown away by The Elite or The One from the Selection Series so I came into The Heir with reservations similar to those I had when starting the series and was pleased to find that in many ways, The Heir has renewed my interest in the series. Now I’ve reached the end of the series’ published books and must wait for the next to be published later this year.

Twenty years after America married Maxon, The Heir is told from the perspective of their oldest child, Eadlyn. The first female heir in the monarchy’s history, she grew up in a very different, caste-less Illéa than the one readers came to know in the first three books. But the dissolution of the castes hasn’t been as smooth as her parents hoped and the Selection has been resurrected to buy them all some time to figure out how to handle the growing unrest in their post-caste country. But with Eadlyn at the center of the Selection and thirty-five young men staying at the palace, it’s a Selection unlike any before.

The twenty year jump from The One to The Heir and shift in narrator—it’s still told in first person which is still a bit annoying but it’s Eadlyn’s perspective instead of America’s so it’s a welcome change at this point—mean the reader gets to see many favorite characters return but from a new and very different point of view. America and Maxon are parents to Eadlyn and her three brothers. Aspen, Lucy, Marlee, and May are all back too but in such different capacities.

The world building issues that were so bothersome in The Elite and The One cease to be an issue with The Heir because the themes at the heart of this novel are less dependent on the fictional world of Illéa. Eadlyn has to deal with the fact that she’s a woman in a position of power, a role where the double standards are everywhere and she must come to understand what it is she wants and needs in a partner—if she wants one. Her interactions with the Selected are so relevant to young women in today’s world—the ways they’re intimidated by her and how that translates to the watching public versus where she’s coming from and what her intent is speaks volumes about the experience of growing up, dating, and working while female. Everything she notices—the way her decisiveness is seen as harsh, the way showing affection gets her called loose while remaining reserved gets her called cold—all ring so true.

There are several tried-and-true tropes at work in The Heir but they’re not as heavy-handed as some of the earlier books in the series, in part because the feminist themes form such a strong supporting structure for the narrative. While it was completely obvious how America’s romantic affairs would ultimately turn out from the very beginning of The Selection, there are several viable options Eadlyn could choose.

So where I was only continuing with the series from habit going into this book, I’m actively waiting for the next book to see how it resolves—and I really hope this storyline isn’t stretched beyond one more book; I feel that it’s stronger to begin with than the original trio of books but that could be severely weakened if that winds up being the case.


6 thoughts on “Book Review – The Heir by Kiera Cass

  1. ajoobacats says:

    I was put of reading this one because the conclusion was to come in the next book in the series. Still considering reading it after the next one is out too. I hate waiting.

    • Lauryn E. Nosek says:

      I wasn’t sure if it was going to be the last one or not and after The Elite and The One I didn’t think I’d care. Now I kind of wish I had waited at least another month or two before reading it so the wait wouldn’t be quite as long but *shrugs* I’ll find plenty to read in the meantime and try to work on managing my expectations for the next one.

  2. WeAreThePoisonedYouth (BookLoverFob) says:

    Great review! I’m glad to hear that this book restored your interest in the series. What did you think of Eadlyn as a character?

    • Lauryn E. Nosek says:

      I find her a bit spoiled and short-sighted but she’s not as annoying as she might be. I’m loving her struggle to figure out how to be herself while trying to find the words and explain just how difficult that is to the men/boys in her life, that the flaws she shows to the world will be scrutinized and called into question 1000 times more than anything her male ancestors did before her simply because she’s female. If she comes off to the reader as difficult at times, it’s in a completely understandable and relatable way. And so far the pacing has been spectacular. I really hope it holds up in the next book (that’s my biggest fear).

      • WeAreThePoisonedYouth (BookLoverFob) says:

        To be honest, I really didn’t like her. She was cruel to the boys, and didn’t care about anyone else if it came before her own well-being. She even complained that her parents changed the anti-feminist rule to let her become queen! Also, when she had her first date with Hale, she freezed up as soon as he asked her anything about herself. America honestly cared about her nation, and wanted to improve it. I believe that Eadlyn lacks that motivation.

        I’m sure the next book will be just as good/better.

        • Lauryn E. Nosek says:

          See, that’s exactly how she is meant to be perceived and part of where that common judgment comes from is the fact that she’s female. Of course she froze up when asked personal stuff – she’s been trained from birth to keep herself guarded around strangers (the press, foreign officials, etc.). Information is power and she has been told from birth that she is – or will be – the most powerful. She doesn’t know how to let her guard down. It’s the way America first perceived Maxon before getting to know him in the first book – spoiled, out of touch, etc. Like Maxon, I think Eadlyn cares about her nation greatly but she doesn’t know about it the way someone who grew up outside the palace would – Maxon needed America to help show him that and the Selection is working to make Eadlyn more aware of that too (it’s a process). And she complains about the rule they changed not because she doesn’t want to be queen or she thinks it was a bad move but because it puts so much responsibility on her shoulders. She is and has been under a lot of pressure her entire life and from time to time, that’s going to seem unfair – especially to a teenager and especially when she has to work while her siblings get to play.

          As for being cruel to the boys, she says it herself – some of that is the fact that she’s a girl and girls are expected to be soft and gentle with everything but especially with other people’s feelings. It doesn’t make her cruel to demonstrate her authority or decisiveness the way she did – it’s just unexpected and judged harsher when it comes from a woman because it’s considered unfeminine. She’s terrified her authority in both her present and future will be undermined and with good reason – it happens to women all the time. Look at her with her brothers, her parents, those she’s comfortable with like family friends or her maid and she’s muchwarmer and relaxed. She’s still naive and says the wrong thing from time to time, but she’s genuine in a way that she can’t be forced into being under other circumstances.

          If a male heir had eliminated female Selected in the manner she did, the scrutiny would have fallen on those girls. The media would have analyzed their actions, words, and appearance in an effort to figure out what they’d done for him to dismiss them in that way. When Eadlyn does it she is blamed and called cruel. It’s how men and women are treated differently in the same situations and I love that this is being highlighted in a narrative like this. It isn’t up to her to share personal details if she isn’t comfortable doing so and yeah, it’s understandable that Hale would be frustrated/confused/feel exposed or vulnerable when she doesn’t reciprocate, but she isn’t obligated to reciprocate.

          Sorry if this sounds like a rant. This book and the points this character makes just align so perfectly with feminism and the double standards between the genders and how femininity and masculinity are defined.

          And as someone who was encouraged by friends to give a guy another chance when I knew with my entire being I didn’t like him, want to be with him, care about him, etc. simply because they thought “he’s a nice guy,” Eadlyn’s reaction/behavior to some of these dates is so relatable.

          If it isn’t right for one of the parties involved, then it is over for both. End of story. If one person decides a relationship is over, it is. If the other person fights it or denies it or whatever, it can so easily escalate to stalking or worse and in most of those situations when there is violence involved, women are the ones who end up hurt or dead. It is not women’s job to protect the male ego; it is men’s job to recognize that women are individuals whose lives and bodies are their own and no one else’s.

          Again, sorry if this got a bit preachy. It isn’t really directed at anyone or anything in particular but is more of a character analysis of Eadlyn. The longer and harder I think about it, the more I like her even if 1st person narratives drive me nuts.

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