The One is the final installment in the Selection series which sees Prince Maxon Schreave finally chose his princess from the remaining four girls, Elise, Kriss, Celeste and America, collectively known as the Elite. This novel has two story lines; the Elite and the final choosing of the princess, and the civil war with the Southern rebels.
Attacks on the palace by the Southern rebels continue while America is now thoroughly in King Clarkson's bad books for her statement on the Report. Maxon tells America that they need to make her the people's favourite.
The Elite share how far they've each gotten with Maxon and discover that all of them are about the same in their relationship status when it comes to physical affections. When Maxon learns of this he is upset at America for triggering such a discussion.
The next day, Maxon and America are summoned to meet to rebels from the Northern camp who are interested in forming an alliance with the King and especially Prince Maxon. They introduce themselves as August Illea, a direct descendent of the ruling Illea family and Georgia Whitaker, his finance. August is a direct descendent of Gregory Illea, his grandfather was Spencer Illea who was thought to have died. Instead, Spencer fled to the north where he had a family. August tells Maxon that they would swear allegiance to him, promise never to attack the palace and do their best to stop the Southern rebels if he will give them some indication that he will allow the people of Illea to determine their own lives. They also tell Maxon that if the Southern rebels win, things will be worse. August asks Maxon to choose America as his wife because they know from her statement on the Report that she too wants to abolish Illea's caste system. Maxon agrees to an alliance but tells August he cannot arm them and take the risk that they might turn on him.
Gradually the four young women grow closer together as they wait for Maxon to make his choice. Meanwhile Maxon and America's relationship grows increasingly tense; Maxon is waiting for America to tell him she loves him but America feels Maxon should reveal how he feels. Maxon tells America "Because half the time I've been sure you loved someone else and the other half I've doubted you could love me at all,..." America tells him that he should spend more time with the other girls to see if he really does love her .
The rebels begin to step up their attacks by announcing that they will be attacking the castes of the Elites, levels 2, 3, 4 and 5 unless the four remaining girls withdraw from the Selection. The King tells them that guards will be provided for their families. Maxon tells America he wants to find out how bad the death toll is from these attacks. America decides that she will enlist Aspen's help and he manages to arrange for her and Maxon to sneak out of the palace one night and travel to meet August and Georgia. Although they learn that the loss of life for now is low, their mission take a turn for the worse when America is injured in an attack.
The final test the Elites must undergo is The Convicting ceremony where each girl must demonstrate her willingness to submit to the laws of Illea. When America is faced with an impossible situation she finds an innovative solution that angers King Clarkson.
Three days before Christmas, King Clarkson gives America an ultimatum: if she wants to stay she needs to read a message telling the castes to accept their lot in life. This is something America cannot do. All this is put on hold when tragedy strikes.
The One is an entirely predictable story with a disappointingly predictable ending that is likely to thrill many readers. Cass attempts to stave off the inevitable predictable ending with several contrived twists, but events transpire exactly as the reader expects. "The Bachelor" aspect is the strong point of this novel as Cass expertly draws out the romantic tension and personality clashes between Maxon and America. It's a story that focuses exclusively on the relationship between Maxon and America, the girl whose ability to break the rules and do the unexpected rule the entire Selection.
My biggest disappointment was the way the storyline between Aspen and America simply wound down, again to a very predictable conclusion. America told him she would always love him and yet, the glamour and wealth of the palace and Maxon's status simply overwhelmed her and changed her forever.It was all very contrived and unoriginal.
Young readers who want a girl-becomes princess-and-lives-happily-ever-after story will enjoy this series and especially the final novel. As expected, the third book also has an appealing cover of a beautiful woman wearing a deliciously gorgeous wedding gown.
Here's the book trailer from HarperTeen:
The One by Kiera Cass
New York: HarperTeen 2014