America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending. Quoted from Goodreads
What this book probably did the most was give us a real, concrete villain. I admit, it only really happens at the end, but instead of just a girl's love story and some strange people who attack the palace for some unknown reason, we get someone in this book who we can actually hate (and hopefully defeat in the third one). While I realize that a lot of times evil doesn't have a face or a concrete villain, I'm glad they created one in this book.
Other things I loved . . . Maxon. He's not perfect, just like America isn't, and while sometimes they grew closer together, other things pushed them apart. I like that he isn't 100% devoted to her at this point. I know it sounds funny, but with her running around with Aspen, he deserves to explore other relationships. Plus, before the Selection, he didn't really know many girls and hadn't had any relationships before. With him caring for other girls, it makes it better when he and America finally do get together in the third book. (Yes, I'm pretty sure that's where this is headed. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'll be really disappointed if I am. I am absolutely done with Aspen. He feels like he's thrown in there to add a bit more conflict, give America a choice, etc. but he doesn't really come across as a serious contender. Just another reason for America to be confused about what she really wants. Sorry, but that's just my opinion.)
This book we do get a bit more sorely needed world building. We learn a bit more about who created the caste system and why, plus what (maybe) the rebels are after. Okay so the rebels still need work, but I'm hoping we learn a lot more in the third book. Plus, we get a few ---well, I hesitate to say fun because they aren't necessarily pleasant, more interesting than fun side stories with other characters (like Marlee). I really liked Marlee's story in this book. The one character I'm most disappointed in, though, is Celeste. She wasn't half as mean or vindictive in this book---besides one specific scene I won't spoil for you.
Anyway, this book is a nice 3.5 stars for me. There were things that bugged me, but other things I enjoyed. All in all, it's a nice, standard second book. It doesn't really slump, but it doesn't bring the story to the next level. It mostly just kept going right where The Selection ended. Still, it made me excited for the final book. Honestly, there's probably not a lot of mystery about how this will play out, but I'm excited to get there.