I went into this book with high expectations, probably too high of expectations. I would rank Kiera Cass’ The Selection series in my top five favorite series. Even though The Betrothed is the first of a new duology, I was anticipating an exciting, suspenseful, heart wrenching tale. I didn’t really find that the be the experience of this book until approximately the last 50 pages.
Dislikes: I hated the main character, Hollis. I found her to be weak and frankly annoying. While I liked that she was different from the other girls at court, she was still a priss. Throughout the book it is brought up that Hollis wants to have her own thoughts and not just be an ornament for the King. But honestly, she had shallow hopes for most of her life. She was okay with having others serve her, even allowing her best friend to dress her and do her hair. I also felt that there was not enough buildup in this novel, and not enough intensity until just before it was over. Kiera Cass is a master at tearing your heart to shreds through tangled love stories. But I honestly couldn’t care less about Hollis and her drama. I was not surprised when Delia Grace revealed that she wanted the king for herself. It only further annoyed me that Hollis was indifferent to the situation. Granted she did not love the king but your supposed best friend just walked all over you to serve her own purpose and your response is essentially ‘oh well, I understand’. Hollis continually states that she is free thinking, but her revelations always come from other people. Her best friend had to tell her she betrayed her, Valentina had to explain how awful being queen would be which she didn’t really seem to notice in the beginning, she always sheepishly did what her parents ordered, and Silas told her to stay with him so she did. Additionally, Silas made a political statement with his choice not to wear colors at the sword fight, and Hollis uses this idea to wear the colors of the other kingdom when giving the presents to the Kings to show alliances between the nations, but this wasn’t even her idea. The girl didn’t grow a back-bone until the very end. Even then, she almost did what Lady Eastoffe instructed her to do, even if it meant seeing the last of her family ride off into danger. I felt extremely frustrated with her choices and meekness.
The only character I found to be remotely interesting was Silas. So naturally he had to die. I’m a fan of silly YA tropes such as instalove and the girl torn between two guys, but the instalove was a little much. I was glad when Hollis ran away with Silas, but to instantly decide to get married within two weeks? That just seems too far fetched. Then conveniently within minutes of marriage he is murdered. We didn’t even get to see them grow as a couple. Their entire relationship was just a few stolen kisses over weeks, a few pages of them running away together and planning a wedding, then bam he’s dead and a lot less interesting now.
Hollis was supposedly torn between two guys, King Jameson who was offering her everything to be his queen at the expense of her future children, or Silas a refugee from a tyrannical country. But Hollis never loved the King, she was just in love with the attention. King Jameson claimed to love her and that she was a sun, but was willing to use her future children as political pawns and was never willing to even fight for her. The day Hollis left, Delia Grace took up the empty position at the side of the King and he didn’t even seem to care that Hollis was gone, just cared about the embarrassment he was now facing as a result of her leaving. Then there’s Silas, who likely did care about Hollis, but barely knew her. Hollis felt this bond between the two of them since they first met but didn’t know what that bond even was. They rushed into marriage so fast that I don’t even know if it was love or maybe another connection between the two of them. So in the end it was a story of a boring girl, stuck between a King who apparently was semi-evil only towards the end, and a strange boy who rushed into a marriage and wound up dead within minutes.
What I liked: Kings, queens, and castles. The last 50 pages. The cover. I really liked the Darkest Knights that played a role in the end of the book. They were briefly mentioned previously but I wish they had been worked into more of the story. They are terrifying people who execute anyone who is a threat to the royal bloodline of the neighboring kingdom. As Silas and his brothers were distant descendants to the throne they were murdered by the Darkest Knights at Hollis and Silas’ wedding. This is where the book finally got interesting.
I know I was a bit harsh in this review, I honestly think Kiera Cass is an outstanding author! This book just wasn’t what I had been hoping it would be, and that is okay. What were your thoughts on The Betrothed? What tropes are you a fan of?