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the one The One by Kiera Cass | Rating: ★★★★★

"You are not the world, but you are everything that makes the world good."

Okay, guys. I have a lot of feelings on this one — a lot, a lot, a lot. Way more than I’d ever planned when it came down to this trilogy; while The One had moments that seemed rushed and had its fair share of weaknesses, it is by far the best in the trilogy. And the perfect end to America’s story.

I’m going to warn you now that my review will not be spoiler free. I’ve given it a bit of time since its release date to review it and if you have not yet had the pleasure of reading it, I suggest you turn around now. I will leave you with some words that will give you the general idea of what this novel contains: tears — happy and sad, swoons, laughs and more tears.

Did I mention tears? ‘Cos there’s a lot of tears. Just thought I’d clarify.

Kiera Cass has managed to make me a full time fan and believer through the course of her trilogy. There were times in the first book that, while I didn’t hate it, I thought I may not continue the trilogy. And then I picked up my copy of The Elite and everything changed for me when it came to my feelings towards this story.

In the course of these three novels, she has managed to build her world and make the story more and more intriguing. It’s soapy and sweet and funny and romantic. The series, as a whole, just kept getting better and better as it went on. The One manages to complete the series with several twists, turns, confessions, redemption and resolutions.

It’s shocking and saddening in some ways, and your heart warms in many others. I have to admit, saying goodbye to these characters — whether that be the end of their story as we know it or through death. Yes, death — I just hate to say goodbye to so many of them.

And in spite of this, Kiera Cass provides us with a new kind of happy ending for many of the characters and while the Selection ends in the way we all knew it was going to there is a shocking end to how we get there. Boy, do I mean shocking. My jaw dropped. My heart broke — it all happens so quickly; but I’ll get to that in a minute.

First things first…

We pick up where we left off in the previous book and follow America’s story as she goes through her remainder of the time. Competition is dwindling down. Tension is still rather high between the four remaining girls as well as that between America and Maxon’s piece of work father. We see America and Maxon build a relationship with two rebels as they try and work with one another to better the world they live in.

Which is great — and we also see the help of the Italian princess. Alliances are formed not only in these ways, but also as the girls begin to bond in the way that Queen Amberly had hoped. Celeste is, surprisingly, the one who all but leads them into the sisterhood that Amberly had said would form — and although there were times in the other two novels when I hated Celeste, she manages to redeem herself and truly shines in this novel.

In fact, the friendship she and America strike up is just so lovely. I particularly enjoyed the scenes in which the girls spent some time together in something that seemed like a sleepover. And then their little dress up with Queen Amberly — a great bonding experience that finally brings each of the girls together. It was beautiful.

Who would have thought that Celeste would grow so much in this final installment; that she would become America’s closest friend in the competitions final days.

The One is quite a bit more action packed than the other books in the series. When America and Maxon sneak from the castle, to speak with their new potential friends, the dangerous sorts of rebels attack and America is shot. It isn’t all that serious — but it did provide us more insight on how dangerous things had gotten outside of the castle; once again we see America show us that she is selfless when she brings a girl back to the castle with them who desperately needed their help.

She also shows this during a conviction — and it makes her stand out in two different ways. One, this naturally makes the king very very angry and two, it makes the people see her in the light that makes her more and more popular amongst them. It becomes more and more obvious in her actions as well as Maxon’s that it is she who will win the competition.

And yet, there is still Kriss.

We also see one of America’s maids, Anne, show an interest in Aspen. Which is quite cute.

During December, as everything is dwindling down in the competition, America’s father passes away. Thankfully, it isn’t due to a rebel attack — but this crushes her nonetheless. He leaves each of his children a note and I promise you, you will be in tears as you read his final words to her. It is very touching and shows just how deep their bond was. I always loved their relationship and I think it was a great way for her to get closure.

I was very shocked when he reveals, through this letter, that it was he who betrayed her when it came down to the journals. Her father is/was a rebel; I hadn’t expected that — but I’m glad he came clean about this and that America wasn’t too angry.

(We also find out a few other surprising rebels as the story progresses!)

There is a bit of family tension thanks to her brother, Kota, who is a piece of work. As we already knew. And in this moment, America’s mother finds out of her past relationship with Aspen and Kota threatens to blackmail her. America, being the smart girl that she is, decides she must tell Maxon on her own.

She is summoned back to the castle under mysterious circumstances and it is revealed that the competition has fallen down to just two girls. Maxon will be announcing his choice and engagement rather quickly and Celeste lets America know that it is more than likely her. This is confirmed rather quickly as Maxon and America share a moment and a night together (no sex, guys!).

On the day of the engagement announcement, Aspen walks into America’s room and sees the two together. Upon Maxon leaving, America tries to explain to Aspen what has been happening and predictable, Maxon over hears this and feels betrayed. They have it out and Maxon makes it clear that she will be eliminated and that they are over.

But we all know better than that.

Things become icy and explosive at the little party. What starts off normal quickly turns dark as it is revealed the southern rebels have taken over the castle — shots are fired and lives are loss. We’re unsure who all is lost in these moments, but the first that America sees is a shot straight through Celeste’s head — which upset me far more than I’d thought it originally would.

In these moments, things become blurry and America is saved by Maxon. They share a moment and believe they are going to lose each other, but even so they proclaim their love for one another. Maxon has been shot and seems to be losing his life right in America’s arms — Aspen is given orders to make sure she is kept safe and she unwillingly leaves Maxon with his injuries.

We see some pretty big bad ass moments from America in the pages that follow — she shoots a rebel who is about to shoot at her and Aspen. And that’s just the beginning.

Thinking she’s lost Maxon and knowing Celeste has died, she feels the loss and the potential loss of everybody who’d been in the castle. It’s unclear just how many lives were lost during this, even by novels end we only get a confirmation on a few such casualties such as Celeste, the King and unfortunately Queen Amberly. Luckily, Maxon is alive — as are a few others including Marlee, Lucy and Aspen.

In a sudden change of events, Lucy and Aspen embrace each other and have apparently fallen in love with one another. Which is great in the way that it ties things up and the love triangle ends on good terms. When we flash forward to Maxon and America’s wedding day, we see them in happier times as they head towards their life together — as king and queen.

Although the loss of lives still hangs freely in their minds, those who survived are able to receive a happy ending of their own. We see glimpses of a happier ending for many, many characters that we’ve met along the way.

The One is a new kind of happily ever after. And I couldn’t be happier with the way it ended.

Side notes…

As for a real complaint: I am so damned sad about the deaths of Queen Amberly, Anne and Celeste. You have no idea! And of course America’s dad. But I think the death that caught me off guard in particular were the suddenness of Celeste’s — I honestly wasn’t expecting it. My jaw dropped straight to the floor and I think I will always be bitter of this one. She had so much development in this novel and ugh, it was just unfair.

I’m also a little disappointed we didn’t see the aftermath of these deaths — we feel the sadness in America briefly on her big day; thinking of how happy Amberly would have been to have a daughter, how Celeste’s sarcasm would be missed during the wedding. I just think that the grief should have been explored further and I would have liked to know the fate of more of those who’d been in the castle, you know?

Anyways, BRB, I’m going to go ball my eyes out over the deaths and the happiness from this story.

Thanks, Kiera Cass.

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