Author’s note: This review contains spoilers.
Quarantine has given me all the time to read. In fact, I feel like I am in middle school again, reading young adult, coming-of-age novels with a tinge of romance, comedy and ideas that could never happen in real life.
One of my favorite authors from back in the day is Kiera Cass: the #1 New York Times bestselling author of “The Selection” series, as every front cover of her novels, claim. Her most recent release was about a month ago — “The Betrothed” — and I have finally gotten my hands on a copy.
Only to be truly disappointed.
The plot — if there is even one to begin with — follows the main character, Hollis Brite. She is a lady of the court, eagerly waiting to capture the attention of the king of Coroa: King Jameson. And she has.
Though Jameson is supposedly notorious for his unstable nature around women, he falls for Hollis and is eager to gain her hand in marriage to make her the most prestigious woman in the country, and that is because of one fact and one fact only: Hollis’ pretty persona makes him laugh — a completely absurd reason to marry someone, especially as it is the only one.
But, Hollis is determined to prove to the king she is more than a pretty smile and is given the chance when a cruel king from a neighboring country visits, and she must deal with him.
In short, journey entails that she would realize the crown was not something she wanted; instead, she wanted a life with a blue-eyed, foreign boy — Silas — because he saw her for more than she was; they were supposed “soulmates” as they experienced “love at first sight.”
The entire plot was choppy, to say the least. The flow of it barely made sense, and Cass was definitely not using her characters to their full potential. The beginning scenes were slow, building up to the revealing of King Jameson’s proposal to Hollis, but with barely any scenes between Hollis and Silas — her main love interest. In fact, the chemistry between Hollis and Silas was near-absent and they shared very few moments together.
Simply put, their entire relationship consisted of them falling in love with each other at first sight, having about two conservations before engaging in physical activities, then professing their love for each other the next time they met. From my observations, such a relationship is built off infatuation rather than love. Afterall, Hollis mentions Silas’s strikingly blue eyes more than enough times.
The characters themselves have no depth to them. Hollis is portrayed as a bubbly girl who is very much wrapped inside her own small little world. It is evident that she is little more than a pretty face, in addition to her kind and understanding heart, of course; she says so herself she lacks in the brains. Although she experiences some minor growth by the end of the book, she remains largely the same. She ends up making shallow, spontaneous decisions.
In contrast, her best friend, Delia Grace, had a bit more personality — albeit not in a positive way. From early on, it was clear that Delia was the toxic-type: she was constantly ridiculing Hollis and evidently angry at the world because she was always second to Hollis. Additionally, Hollis was outrageously dependent on Delia; she always needed her by her side for meals, talking with the king, etc. We get more than enough information about Delia, which is strange considering she is not the main character.
At the end of the book, Hollis ends up rejecting King Jameson’s proposal and running away with Silas to get married. Initially, it seems terribly romantic; however, it is actually completely unrealistic and too abrupt. By this point in time, there were only about four to five major interactions between Hollis and Silas. Silas himself cannot even be considered a main character considering how little scenes we get with him, especially as he dies before he can get any more character development.
Overall, “The Betrothed” can be described with one word and one word only: bland. It is only the first book in a series, according to Entertainment Weekly, and while it was certainly not the best start, as a fan of Kiera Cass, I will most likely read the second book.
But one thing is for certain: Cass’s new novel is no match for her iconic “The Selection” series.
I encourage new readers of Cass’s work to start with her older books before reading her newer publications. Otherwise, disappointment will be the only impression you have of her work — if I am being brutally honest.