"THE ONE: Book 3 of the Selection Series," by Kiera Cass, HarperTeen, $17.99, 323 pages (f) (ages 12 and up)
Fans of America Singer will not be disappointed in the final book in the Selection trilogy, titled "The One."
Author Kiera Cass has done a good job of keeping up the suspense almost to the very end as her heroine struggles to choose between her new love in the palace and her first love, who's followed her to the royal court, and between her basic instincts for justice and new demands on her integrity.
Cass has successfully transitioned America from the feisty girl with a chip on her shoulder who entered the contest for the prince's heart to a young woman who values the prince and the country he loves.
There is romantic conflict as America fights her long-term loyalty to Aspen Leger, the boy with whom she spent forbidden hours in a treehouse, and her attraction and respect for the future King of Illea, Prince Maxon.
Political conflict and danger are built into the story as rebel forces try to take down the monarchy, get rid of the caste system and restore what was once the United States, and America is drawn in as well.
Maxon has to be a man and stand up against his overbearing, driven father.
America has to face some tough decisions. She learns to love and depend on the girls in the final four who started out as her rivals in the competition that was set up to allow the prince to find a suitable wife — with some surprising twists.
This book is pretty absorbing while staying clean and relatively free of sex and violence. There's some gunfire, destruction of property and pain, but it's kept at a bearable distance.
The characters are fleshed out and the dialogue is real
America is an admirable person somewhat unaware of her own magnetism and charm. She clearly has the prince intrigued from the beginning but doesn't really understand that.
She moves along, making a difference with her choices while sweeping the reader into her story.
Cass masterfully weaves the story so the ending is not predictable, though it can seem rather conveniently tied up. It appears to be a simple "Team Maxon" vs. "Team Aspen" tale, but it's really more realistic and complicated than that.
"The One" is a satisfying conclusion, though readers may hope Cass will pen another book or two, and fans will probably demand more.
Sharon Haddock's personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.