We left off with a doozy of a chapter, that’s for sure. Hope you’ve sufficiently recovered from the crazy, because we’re only going to step on the throttle from here on out. If you’re just joining this acerbic read-through of The Crown, catch up here, then stretch your eyebrows of skepticism for round 4!

Chapter 16

It’s time for, you guessed it, The Report! Maxon, who has approximately a week left of being king, isn’t worried about how Eadlyn will do as queen. However, he is thoroughly worried about the public’s reaction to her ascending. Par for the course. Personally, I would be at least slightly concerned about handing over the entirety of North America to an 18-year-old girl. I could point you to a number of high school teachers who would vouch that many teenagers can’t be trusted with so much as a pencil, let alone a country.

The Boys are universally relieved that they don’t have to appear on camera tonight, and amidst them telling Eadlyn so, Erik asks if he needs to sit with Henri since The Boys won’t be talking. But the real reason this is included is because it’s been a whole 5 chapters since we got a description of Erik’s eyes: “His blue eyes caught the bright lights of the studio, brilliant and clear.” Check that one off the list!

Cue the start of The Report: blaze past America’s first appearance since her heart attack and go straight to Maxon’s big mic drop:

“‘With my wife’s recent health scare, I find myself unable to focus on moving our country forward, let alone maintaining what we currently have. As such, after much thought and discussion, our family has decided that my daughter, Princess Eadlyn Schreave, will ascend the throne.'”

Several issues: Yes, heart attacks are a terrible thing to suffer. If someone you know has suffered one, I’m truly sorry, but remember that this is a critique of a work of fiction, and the way it completely derails Maxon seems a little excessive. He can’t do anything, now or ever? He’s never returning to the job he was literally born to do? Really? Remember, they’re not even 40. Also, “much thought and discussion” is being awfully generous. Eadlyn comes up with the idea after the town hall from hell, tells Maxon the next day, and this can’t be more than a few days after that. And let’s be real – there was no discussion, just blind agreement by parents who are far too willing to foist their responsibilities off on their teenager.

They blab about coronation plans. Apparently putting together a coronation is no more complicated than making a diorama for elementary school, because this sucker is being pulled off within two weeks. Eadlyn clarifies for her riveted public that whoever wins the Selection will immediately become a prince consort rather than a plain ‘ol prince: “And while some, like Fox and Kile, seemed ecstatic, Hale was frowning. So the other night wasn’t just a fluke. He was having genuine doubts. What had happened? How had I lost him?”

Blaaarrrggghhh. Just because Hale has possibly changed his mind doesn’t mean either of them has done anything wrong! Not every boy is suited for every girl, princess or not. Get over yourself, Eady; you and Hale weren’t engaged so it’s not like he’s jilting you at the altar. Though why he’s changed his mind remains to be seen, since all he’s done is been exuberantly enthusiastic since day 1. This had better be good, because I am getting thoroughly tired of having to play relationship therapist.

Chapter 17

For the first time in the history of ever, there is a positive story about Eadlyn in the all-important media. Cue cheers and self-congratulations all around! She and The Boys scamper off to another Finnish lesson, where she assures Erik that she’ll miss him as much as the others when all but one of The Boys is gone. But off the record, we suspect that she will miss him way more, because one does not simply observe another’s eyes with the frequency and intensity that Eadlyn has Erik’s without being in loooove, even if she’s not admitting it to herself.

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Eadlyn was going to bury herself in work, but Lady Brice says she should spend some time one-on-one with The Boys. THANK YOU. FINALLY, somebody grasps the fact that picking a husband requires more than a brief group conversation once or twice a day. Marid’s coming to the coronation. Cool beans. Negatory for his parents. Whatevs.

Chapter 18

Ooo, time for a throw down with Hale! I mean, civil conversation about why he’s getting “cold feet” about potentially being her husband. I hope you’re sitting down, because this comes out of nowhere.

Hale is gay. And so is Ean. And they are seemingly in love with each other.

Wherever you stand on the We Need Diverse Books movement, it’s hard to argue with the fact that this came totally out of left field. Maybe you disagree, maybe I missed the signs, and if that’s the case feel free to sound off in the comments, because I am genuinely curious.

I will argue that this relationship seems dropped in and stereotypical at best. Hale’s super into fashion with a girl-best-friend-not-girlfriend and he’s gay? And he’s matched with the closed-off, emotionally-unavailable boy? Groan. If this is how it has to play out, I wish there had been some indication of it developing, instead of poof! Hale goes from being enamored with Eadlyn to maybe in love with Ean in about two seconds.

Eadlyn agrees to release them both from the Selection without revealing their secret, since the country returned to more conservative ideals and male head-of-household laws with the advent of the original Illéan monarchy. But before you congratulate Eadlyn for her kind understanding, think of how much better it would’ve been if she would’ve engaged her brain a little. If this kind of relationship is something she wants to support, wouldn’t a job as, I don’t know, queen be just the position from which to enact real change? And maybe she will; I don’t know. But right now the master plan is just to help them hide their love in the shadows.

Unconvincing portrayal of homosexuality aside, let’s consider what else this reveal does for us. We have 5 Boys left, and presumably none of them are going to do anything stupid enough to get dismissed for bad behavior. They need to be whittled down to one, but it’s not Kiera Cass’s style to leave us with an ending that anyone could possible disagree with. Whoever the “losers” are, we need to be happy that they’re gone or the vibe of these books will be completely thrown off. We have good reason for getting rid of Ean – he’s the safety net. But Hale? We have no reason to object to him. Eadlyn has liked him from the start, he’s been nothing but sweet to her…oh crap he’s perfect! Oh wait. He’s gay. We have entered the stage of the process in which Kiera Cass will begin constructing reasons to knock out competitors until we are left with the grand champion.

Good gravy, this chapter still isn’t done.

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Kile sneaks into Eadlyn’s room (which sounds creepier than it actally was) to share an idea with her. This is good, since he’s the only technical front-runner left. We know next to nada about Fox, Henri is…Henri, and we’re still supposed to think that’s she’s not going to totally throw it all out the window and go with Erik.

Kile, an aspiring architect, suggests remodeling a parlor “into a permanent throne room, where you could receive people, hear individual petition, and address them one-on-one.” Excuse me while I blink in disbelief, but why don’t they already have this? The concept of receiving halls and public audience times for the people to approach the ruler seems like a fairly basic principal, but like we already saw with the town hall disaster, the Schreave family appears to have left the common sense boat at the dock.

They relive humorous first kiss stories, which are cute enough, I suppose. Few things are as painfully adorable as awkward young love. He drops another sage Kile-ism, which has become one of the crowning quotes of this book: “Maybe it’s not the first kisses that are supposed to be special. Maybe it’s the last ones.” While this sounds nice, it’s also ridiculous. Yes, first kisses are generally not earth-shattering. But conversely, I’d say few people know when a kiss is actually the last kiss. You don’t expect relationships to end or for people to die, so…that’ll be hard to live out in real life. 10 points for poeticness, though.

Chapter 19

Humdrum coronation prep! Eadlyn puts on a dress that probably weighs half of what she does with a cape and layers and skirts and lots of other fashiony words that I don’t know. There is mild consternation over (gasp!) the color of Erik’s tie. He doesn’t want to match The Boys exactly, lest people be “confused,” like they don’t know who he is since he’s been here from 35 Boys down to 5 (Ean and Hale’s planned exits haven’t transpired yet).

Erik gives Eadlyn his great-great-grandmother’s wedding ring to wear for luck. Call me crazy, but this seems like a really, really bad idea. There are going to be approximately 8 million pictures taken of her today, and you think some busybody gossip magazine isn’t going to notice this ring and possibly pick up on its Swendish design? But she puts it on anyway, thanks Erik, and “looked into his blue eyes.” Only blue? That’s all the description we get? I’m disappointed.

But the following paragraphs do not fail us. Among other drippy-sweet sentiments of self-realization, we get this:

“I had felt it growing, this feeling that had been hiding beneath the surface for some time now. I had seen him, this person who never intended to be seen, and my faulty, silly, useless heart kept whispering his name.”

Ahhh, there we go. #ErikConfirmed! Now we just have to wade through the slogging drama as Eadlyn attempts to abide by the Selection until she inevitably chucks it all away to follow her heart, or something romantic-sounding like that.

Chapter 20

Pump up the party, it’s coronation day! We learn that Eadlyn has been avoiding eye contact with Erik, sparing us any angsty monologues about his retinas from the deep blue sea. Dah dah dah, everything is a whirl of activity, when BOOM! She sees Ahren, who has finally deigned to visit his family after eloping and hardly even bothering to call when his mother was barely clinging to life.

Then they’re off to the church, where she agrees to all the required oaths that are filled with the expected stuffy and highbrow language. Then…that’s it. Crown on the head, scepter in one hand, orb-thingy in the other, and everybody joins in a rousing cry of “God save the queen.”

Surprisingly, the coronation is one of the least dramatic things we’ve seen in this series. There’s been more drama at the breakfast table, but apparently becoming queen takes little more than a snap of the finger and a flick of the magic wand. Hmm.

Coming soon, Chapters 21-25!

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