Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass ~ 5/5 stars.
This book is a companion book to The Selection series, and it contains a series of novellas, scenes, and other little tidbits to go along with The Selection. I really enjoyed this book, as it gave a little glimpse into the heads of several of the main characters. It gave some backstory and helped to create a new perspective on The Selection series as a whole. I think that, rather than just talking about my feelings on the entire book, I am going to do a separate mini-review for each of the novellas and other sections of the book.
The Queen: This is a novella written from Amberly’s perspective, set during her Selection. I really enjoyed this story, because it gave more insight on why Amberly and Clarkson ended up together, despite the significant differences in their personalities that we see in The Selection. We get to see some of the flaws of Amberly’s character, and also some of the more human side of Clarkson – both essential elements of their relationship that are more hidden in the series. I also really enjoyed watching as Clarkson’s Selection shaped Amberly’s character. Amberly experienced many of the same situations and emotions that America went through during her Selection. Those situations, and the decisions that she was forced to make helped to mold Amberly into the strong and loving queen and mother that she becomes. It is overall a beautiful story.
The Prince: This is a novella written from Maxon’s perspective, starting on his birthday and continuing through the first few weeks of the Selection. There is so much in this story. I really like it, because it shows a lot of the story we have already seen in the first few weeks of the Selection, but it has a completely different feeling as told through Maxon’s eyes. From America’s perspective in The Selection, Maxon always seems calm and confident – but we see that he was actually terrified at the idea of bringing 35 strangers into his house, most of which were hand picked by his father. Speaking of King Clarkson, we also see Maxon’s perspective of just how demanding his father is. Every single action, move, and judgement Maxon makes is scrutinized and dictated by his father. However, in contrast to this, we see the sweet, loving relationship between Maxon and Queen Amberly. While Maxon receives love from his mother, he just feels pressure from his father – and there is not a loving relationship between his parents. One of the small plotlines of this story is Maxon’s first encounter with a girl, before the Selection begins. Daphne, a French princess, confesses that she loves and always has loved Maxon. When she doesn’t get the response from him that she wants, she begins to analyze and make judgements about Maxon’s ability to love. Her conclusion is this: “You have no idea how to express [love]. Your father can be as cold as ice, and your mother hides within yourself. You’ve never seen people love freely, so you don’t know how…”. While that is a rather harsh judgement, it is accurate in a way. And it is with those words in his mind that Maxon enters the Selection. It is a very engaging story, as we see Maxon’s perspective of several iconic scenes between him and America, and we are given a glimpse of the emotions Maxon experienced as he went through the process of choosing a wife
The Guard: This is a novella written from Aspen’s perspective, starting the day after Officer Woodwork and Marlee are discovered. One thing I enjoyed most about this story was the new perspective of the palace. We get to see the staff – maids and guards and even a stable hand – through the eyes of Aspen, who is one of their equals. The dynamic in the palace is so interesting, and Aspen discovers that he is much more comfortable in the company of the maids and servants than with the royals. I was kind of disappointed while reading this, because I thought it would shed some light on Aspen’s relationship with Lucy. We see the very beginning of something, but nothing is resolved and there really isn’t any completion. It is a good perspective, but it is not my favorite of the novellas.
The Favorite: This is a novella written from Marlee’s perspective. It is such a sweet novella, chronicling the story of Marlee falling in love with Carter Woodwork. It begins in a prison cell, after Marlee and Carter have been discovered. Marlee thinks that they are waiting there for a death sentence, and she remembers back to the beginnings of their relationship. The story stretches through until the very end of The One, describing Marlee and Carter’s struggles and happy memories. This story is one of my favorite parts of anything Selection related – It was just beautiful seeing Marlee and Carter grown in their pure, simple love.
The Maid: This is not really a novella, but more like a collection of scenes. And here is where I got the Aspen and Lucy love story that I was waiting for. It picks up right after Aspen reveals to Lucy that America was his first love. Lucy is devastated by this news, because she loves America like a sister, really. And now that she knows about America and Aspen, and their hidden love she thinks that Aspen must still be in love with America. This makes her very reluctant to be accepting towards him, even though she has fallen in love with him. This story reveals more about the lives of Aspen and Lucy, and I enjoyed reading it because these have been two of my favorite characters throughout the series. Yes, I have been and will always been loyal to Aspen, and I was so glad to see that he found a happy ending after all.
The rest of the book contains three scenes from the perspective of Celeste, which aren’t really any surprise. We see her confidence from the beginning that it was really no contest – that she would be queen. We see how lonely she became, fighting from the throne rather than for the prince, and there is a really incredible scene between her and Maxon right before she leaves the competition. The book also includes a small collection of scenes called After The One, and I am pretty sure you can guess the subject of those little scenes. The final section of the book is entitled Where are they now?, and sheds some light on where a few of the Selected girls ended up after they left the competition.
All in all, this was a fantastic read. I loved getting into the heads of all of the Selection characters, and there was just such a personal touch from Kiera Cass on every part of the book. I wish every author would do this, offer more backstory and insight on some of our favorite characters. If you are a fan of The Selection series, you will love Happily Every After.