They say the third time’s the charm, but I’m not really sure what for. For this book to get even a fraction more believable? For a believable line of dialogue from The Boys? For my eyes to finally get stuck in the rolling position? Only time will tell. If you’re just joining us, feel free to indulge in Chapters 1-5 and 6-10 before forging ahead.
The wave of elation Eadlyn felt upon hearing torrents of morale-boosting praise from The Boys comes crashing down when they enter the dining room and she realizes her family is all elsewhere. In a move that actually promotes some equality between them, Eadlyn invites The Boys to join her at the head table. Not bad, Eady. I mention this because it allows Kiera Cass to slip in another description of Erik’s eyes. And by slip in, I mean punch us in the face:
“I turned to find myself inches away from his concerned eyes. There was something calming about them, a detail I remembered from after the fight in the kitchen. I’d looked into them then and felt like I had seen right through to his soul. Even now, with so many people around, just seeing his crystal-clear blue eyes search mine swept away my sadness.”
So many sentences, I had to use the block quote feature. SO. MANY. SENTENCES. I couldn’t even begin to tell you what the other Boys look like, but dang it if we aren’t all going to fall in love with Erik by virtue of his swoony ocean eyes. #WeNeedEqualOpportunityEyeDescriptions
They toast Eadlyn’s awesomeness, and she is literally unable to give voice to the words “thank you.” Rude!
Eadlyn, Neena and Lady Brice agonize over the latest headlines, which seems to be their only method of determining the state of the country. Everything still gloom and doom, and Eadlyn is floundering like a fish: “‘I’m just not sure I can focus on what I’m capable of accomplishing until I get public opinion under control.'” I’d like to point out that one of the remarkable things about opinions is that they shouldn’t be controlled by anyone other than the person having them. If you paid half as much attention to your princessing as you did what people think of you, maybe the opinions would sort themselves out.
Their tactics are failing at every turn, and yet they persist in bludgeoning the proverbial horse to Hades and back. Secure in the assumption that Eadlyn choosing a husband will fix everything, they begin to pick apart the remaining Boys, whittling away the fact that these are real, actual people until we’re left with their “vital stats,” i.e. what they can offer that will convince an entire continent to fall in love with their unlovable princess.
- Kile: She feels a “connection” with him, which is my single least favorite word for describing a relationship.
- Hale: Perpetually happy, and “yet to fail.” While this looks good at first glance, allow me to hit you with a harsh reality check, Eady: sooner or later, he will fail you. And you will fail him. Going into a marriage – and any interpersonal relationship, really – not knowing this is dooming it to failure.
- Fox: He’s hot, apparently. I wouldn’t know, since the only thing I can remember ever being described are Erik’s eyes.
- Henri: A “beacon of joy” with an ocean of affection for Eadlyn. Still – HE CANNOT SPEAK ENGLISH. HE NEEDS TO BE GONE. Except then Erik would also be gone, along with his swoony retinas.
- Ean: Eadlyn describes him as being a little trickier, but important. What she isn’t telling them is that Ean is her plan B: failing love with one of the other Boys, he’s promised her a platonic marriage in which he will basically stay out of her way. Eady, if you so desperately want to find real love, may I suggest you get rid of the safety net that is Ean? You know you won’t love him, and if you think the all-important public opinion won’t pick up on that as well, you’re deluding yourself.
They have a Finnish lesson, in which she gets up close and personal with Henri, almost falling into make-out mode as he helps position her lips to make the correct pronunciation. How dreamy. Personally, I’d bite a knuckle off anyone who grabbed my face like that. Grrr.
Desperate to get her beached-whale mentality back in the ocean, Eadlyn calls up Man-of-the-People Marid. He suggests having a town hall session to “show how well the palace listens to its people.” Eadlyn is, and I quote, “stunned” at the idea. Imagine that: showing how well you listen by actually listening. Who’dathunk?
Eadlyn plays chess with Hale, which automatically makes me loose interest because chess is on my list of most hated games, right along with Monopoly and Risk. Amidst the boring small talk, we learn he has a girl-who-is-a-best-friend-but-not-girlfriend back home. Because, of course, we can’t believe that The Boys could possibly be interested in anyone other than Eadlyn, even if it was before the Selection ever started. That would detract from her status as Most Eligible Bachelorette.
They then move on to discussing Hale’s place in the standings. Upon learning that he is doing better than “somewhere in the middle,” (which isn’t exactly hard when there’s only 5 Boys left), he is slightly disconcerted by the massive amount of responsibility that is within his grasp. Eadlyn goes completely overboard and takes his reticence as a predictor for wanting to leave: “‘Did I miss something? You’ve always been so enthusiastic, to the point that I’ve wondered about your sanity. What’s with the sudden cold feet?'”
Back it up, princess. Like I said before, being a perpetual ball of happiness is completely unsustainable, and if you can’t handle Hale having a single emotion outside of that, you need to seriously examine your criteria for choosing a husband. It is perfectly okay for a commoner Boy to be overwhelmed at the prospect of becoming a prince. Frankly, I’d be worried it he wasn’t.
Da da duummm!!! Sound the trumpets, it’s the day of the big town hall meeting! Man-of-the-People Marid has gathered a diverse swath of people from different parts of the countries and socioeconomic statuses. All good so far. But then the meeting starts, and Eadlyn chooses to open with this stellar number: “‘Since we’ve never done this before, we don’t really have an outline to follow. Does anyone have any questions?'”
HOLD THE PHONE.
There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t even know where to start.
First: WHY HAVE YOU NEVER DONE THIS?!? The royals use public opinion as their guiding North Star, but they don’t even bother to talk to the public? They just blindly enact policies and pray that tomorrow’s headlines will be better? If this is how they’ve been operating for generations – a monarch and his highfalutin advisers living in a palatial bubble – then I have some news for Eadlyn: people call you distant and unapproachable because you are actually distant and unapproachable.
Second: I cannot think of a worse way to start a town hall. I work in PR, but it doesn’t take a professional to realize that you want to have some sort of guidelines in place to keep things from dissolving into anarchy. Even small civic groups like city councils and boards of education have a set procedure for how public comments are received.
Eadlyn definitely should’ve opened with some kind of prepared statement, the kind of “blah blah glad you’re here blah blah these are the things I’d like to discuss blah blah” that she seems to be so good at giving on The Report. But no. She just opens the floor to chaos, and that’s exactly what ensues. Nobody in Illéa knows how to take turns, and the visitors all start shouting at each other.
Swoop! In comes Marid to chastise the squabbling peons and restore order! After his benevolent intercession, things calm down. And in order to make us feel like something productive happened, Eadlyn agrees to look into instituting some kind of local vote for people to have a say in…things. Not sure what. A political science textbook, this is not.
The one piece of sound thinking to come out of this is Eadlyn saying, in regards to discrimination based on the defunct caste system, “Whatever laws I pass won’t do much unless each of you takes it upon yourself to show kindness to your fellow citizens.” Fair enough. A single point to Eadlyn; it was good, but not that good. She begins to question whether Illéa should remain a monarchy in the face of her impassioned opposition, but Marid convinces her to maintain central control, assuring her that she is more than capable of ruling. Hmm…whatever floats your boat. I suppose if you’re going to stay a monarchy, then you need to have the guts to step up and be a real monarch.
They adjourn to have wine, because apparently the former United States abandoned its 21+ drinking age when the continent united.
Eadlyn, Marid, Maxon and America mend fences between the feuding Shreave and Illéa families. Eadlyn extends an open invitation for Marid to continue helping her not be an aloof, imperious princess. That’ll do wonders to squelch the circling rumors of their rekindled friendship/missed connection romance.
I’m not really sure how to place the next scene, since it’s pretty disjointed from the main plot. Eadlyn runs into Aspen (now General Leger) and talk turns to Aspen and Lucy’s inability to have children. This is one of the heaviest themes broached in this entire series, but it receives relatively little attention. In one of the most poignant, tender moves she’s ever made, Eadlyn reminds Aspen of how both he and Lucy have been like parents to all the children raised in the palace. I think this inclusion serves two purposes: a) to show Eadlyn how a solid marriage can withstand adversity, and b) to humanize Eadlyn and show that there is, in fact, at least a single sympathetic bone in her body. Well, it works.
Don’t get too excited, though. Just as we think things might be looking up in terms of realism, the poop completely hits the fan. Fresh in the face of Aspen’s whole-hearted, self-sacrificial love for Lucy, Eadlyn decides to do something that will allow Maxon and America to enjoy their love for each other more fully.
And that something is…
wait for it…
Ascend to the throne early.
Back it up. Back it up several dozen…dozen paces. Then add another dozen, just to be safe. One more. One. Okay. You’re safe.
Here’s the thought process: Maxon and America have enjoyed their time alone during America’s recovery, time free of the pressure and responsibility of ruling. Eadlyn offers to step up as the full-on queen so they can keep enjoying one-on-one time as a plain couple rather than the reigning monarchs. They could travel. They could rest. Heck, they can have the coronation THIS WEEK!
And Maxon AGREES WITHOUT BLINKING.
Let’s remove ourselves from getting caught up in the emotion of this grand, sweeping gesture and look at what’s actually happening. According to the internet, Maxon is currently 39 and America is 37. That’s awfully early to retire by anyone’s standards, especially when your successor is all of 18 years old and your country is in turmoil. They want to travel? Fine. Eadlyn’s already acting as Regent, just extend that a little further. Have mom and pop take a sabbatical for a month. Six months. A year, I don’t care, but ultimately they should come back and own up to their responsibilities.
We have officially broken light speed on the ridiculousometer. But that’s how these books roll, so hey! Stay tuned for a coronation!