Blargh, it’s been almost two weeks since I posted one of these! I had to finish some review books before the library overdue fines crept up too high.*
After the wild ride of last time (in which Eadlyn ascended to the throne and we learn relational truths about Ean and Hale), one can only hope that this segment will be somewhat less filled with surprise reveals, mic drops and general disbelief. Don’t hold your breath, though, because you might pass out and I will not be held legally responsible for any injuries incurred because of this book. First time? Here’s all the fun we’ve had thus far!
The entirety of this chapter takes place as they take lots of boring posed photos following the coronation. -10 points for most stifling setting ever, but the hidden benefit is that it allows every character to be rotated in to see Eadlyn in turn.
During Kile’s family’s turn, his mom comes up with the brilliant plan to have ultra-whiny younger sister Josie shadow Eadlyn like she’s some high school student trying out career fields. Personally, I’m not sure how Marlee has missed the supremely obvious animosity between these girls. Cramming them together is sure to go spectacularly.
The Boys all have their little moment with Queen Eady. Fox – boring. Ean – grateful that she’s letting him out without outing him. Kile – cute and funny. Hale – sweet. Henri – produces his most eloquent (though still grammatically incorrect) sentence yet. They’re all in and out within a few sentences, but Erik? Oh ho, he gets a full two pages! Snaaaaap!
Plus Marid, who sneaks in at the last second and gets half a page and a picture with Her Majesty. Can’t forget about the Man of the People.
The alcohol is flowing freely in a standard display of a rockin’ party. Ahren sidles up to Eadlyn, saying he has to catch a flight but wanted to say goodbye. Bro, didn’t you recently become the prince of France? Shouldn’t there be some swank private jet that runs on your schedule? The idea of flying from France to Los Angeles and back within three days (at best) sounds horrific. That’s an ocean and an entire continent’s worth of distance, though they probably get more than the square foot of seat space boasted by most commercial flights today.
Eadlyn gets pulled into a dance with Ean, and we find out that he has liked Hale “‘From the moment [they] were getting prepared to meet [Eadlyn].'” So…for all of these two books. Excuse me while I give a head shake of disbelief, but it is very hard to reconcile the completely unromantic Ean we’ve come to know with this new secret identity.
Man-of-the-People Marid flags down Eadlyn to join in an interview, because if the media isn’t recording it, it might as well not be happening. He continues to play himself off as the “could have been” suitor for the queen, if only that silly little Selection hadn’t gotten in the way. Except this time, Eadlyn calls him out and demands that he lay off encouraging the gossip. HALLELUJAH! WE’RE TAKING A STAND ON SOMETHING!
And with that, the plot thickens like flour and water in a garbage disposal. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t try it just to find out. Not a good idea.
Marid throws his cards on the table, and boy does he have a doozy of a hand: he wants to marry Eadlyn, presumably as an avenue to seizing power for himself. Houston, we have a problem. Marid actually has quite a few things working in his favor. The people (and media!) love him, he knows how to speak to sway a crowd, and apparently he receives scads of fan mail. Plus, he’s actually out and about with the common man, instead of living in the palace’s gilded cage. Those not enamored with the Schreaves appear more than willing to get behind the Illéa family, ignoring that they were the original founders of the monarchy and its detested caste system. What a fickle beast memory is.
Eadlyn tells him to stick it where the sun don’t shine. You go girl! But then she falls into an immediate well of despair, fearing everyone around her is as deceptive as Marid. But before the darkness can close in completely, Erik swoops in to rescue her. They swan off to an empty room and have a heart-to-heart that is 1000 times angsty. They are totes in love but unable to do anything about it, or so they claim.
I would have thought that one of the benefits of being queen would be the ability to do things like cancel your own Selection and tell all opposers to stuff it where Marid’s proposal went. Eadlyn’s obsession with the public’s opinion is crippling her. If you’re going to have a monarchy, then you’d better make darn sure you’ve got someone at the helm who can hold it together, and Eadlyn is not looking like a prime candidate at this point. Strong-willed or not, you can’t rule effectively if you’re going to buckle every time someone writes a snippy news story.
She and Erik plan to meet in secret the next night, a last hurrah before she has to get engaged to one of The Boys. Don’t fear for your sensibilities, though. This is the Selection series, not a Harlequin romance; virtue and morality will assuredly remain intact.
In the self-sacrificial gesture of the century, Eadlyn gets up to work on Sunday morning instead of sleeping again. *slow clap* Just as they’re about to dive into the mess that is Marid, peppy perky Josie bounces in, ready to shadow the queen! Letting the blabbermouth teen in on a private meeting between the queen and Lady Brice to discuss matters of state seems like such a stellar idea.
Stripe on your warpaint, because they’re outlining the battle plan! First and foremost, ignore Marid. I can’t see that blowing up in your face. Then it’s pedal to the metal, we’re wrapping up this Selection in the next two weeks! Following staged exits by Ean and Hale, they’ll knock Fox out and go to the final live broadcast, where she’ll pick Kile over Henri for obvious reasons. Josie is notably subdued at seeing this process, including her brother, reduced to cold calculations behind closed doors. When Eadlyn asks if she’s had enough, Josie predictably withdraws from the shadowing experience, having learned that her princess fantasy didn’t quite match up with reality.
Eadlyn and Erik scuttle off to the below-ground safe room we saw quite a bit of during the rebel attacks in the first three Selection books. As far as spots to go where they won’t be discovered are concerned, I have to admit this is pretty good. They talk about their parents’ relationships, and Eadlyn continues to be baffled by the fact that her mom and dad’s Selection was not the fairy tale she imagined. All the stories we know about Maxon and America arguing, America nearly going home, etc. have apparently been lost to history in the twenty-ish years that have passed. It seems like this information would have been best delivered up front, so as to let their extremely apprehensive daughter know that her own Selection didn’t have to be all sunshine and roses.
We learn that Erik’s full name is Eikko Petteri Koskinen. “He shrugged. ‘I only changed it because I thought it was too strange.’ ‘No,’ [Eadlyn] insisted. ‘It’s not strange.'” And comparatively, it’s not. In this series of Osten-Ostrich, Ahren, Eadlyn, and on and on, Eikko is very not-strange. For further proof, I direct you to the publisher’s video addressing this very issue!
And now that they’re finally acknowledging that they’re in love, we come to Erik’s request: to not contact him after they part ways and she marries someone else. This is actually one of the most admirable, selfless acts we’ve seen in this series. He’s giving up his love and refusing to let Eadlyn put herself in a situation where she might be tempted to break her marriage vows. You’re a good guy, Erik. But then, because this is YA, tender promises dissolve into a frenzy of kissing. *shields eyes*
Check back soon for Chapters 26-30!
*$1.50 is about where I cap out before paying them off, accrued at 10 cents/day. I love my local library too much to let 60 or 70 cents keep me from checking out another stack of books, but eventually I start to feel bad and cough up some spare change.