I feel like I have read this before. And I can't figure out where. Maybe it is just my readings of Ester or a christian fiction that was based on Ester... But anyways. The addition of Aspen and her loving a lower class definitely makes it unique and puts America, the main character in a more precarious position. I understand completely her choosing to participate in the selection to help her family because while she isn't the lowest class, they do struggle for food. She also decides to do it because Aspen doesn't want to live with the guilt of holding her back. There was a lot of tension going into making this decision, and that was just the beginning of what kept me reading this book.
The other girls in the competition were fun to read about. Some, like Marlee made me smile. She was so open and I loved the budding friendship between her and America. Others, like Celeste--well, let me just say that she made a perfect character to hate. There are others that I wished I could get a peek inside their mind and their time with Maxon.
And oh, Maxon. At first, I thought much like America, that he was stuck up and unreachable. But as she got to know him, my heart melted and I was pulling for her to be able to leave Aspen in her past and chose him. Ms. Cass did a great job writing this and set this up, because I was all prepared to pull for first love and forbidden romance, but I loved the interactions between America and Maxon. How their friendship formed, and their bantering and open, vulnerable moments together.
The ending completely took my breath away, and I can't wait for The Elite so I can figure out where America goes next in her journey, and figure out more to make my decision as well as find out hers.
Bottom Line: Breath taking romance with an underdog main character that I was cheering for with all my heart.