I 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.