ELITE by Rachel Van Dyken

 In Book Reviews, New Adult

Elite BookELITE (Eagle Elite #1)

Author: Rachel Van Dyken
Rating: 3 out of 5 
Genre: YA/NA
Format: ARC
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 17


Contains No Spoilers

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OVERALL THOUGHTS: A New Adult book, with the feel of an upper YA that is a quick read with tons of plot. Not all of them work, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The problem – an unbelievable storyline that is not only improbable, but a little over-the-top ridiculous. The saving grace – Nixon. Great for a quickie summer beach read, but if you are looking for steamy new adult fiction, this one is squeaky clean. Not even a measly curse word.

[note color=”#ebe9f2″]SYNOPSIS:For Tracey Rooks, life with her grandparents on a Wyoming farm has always been simple. But after her grandmother’s death, Tracey is all her grandfather has. So when Eagle Elite University announces its annual scholarship lottery, Tracey jumps at the opportunity to secure their future and enters. She isn’t expecting much-but then she wins. And life as she knows it will never be same . . .

The students at Eagle Elite are unlike any she’s ever met . . . and they refuse to make things easy for her. There’s Nixon, gorgeous, irresistible, and leader of a group that everyone fears: The Elect. Their rules are simple. 1. Do not touch The Elect. 2. Do not look at The Elect. 3. Do not speak to The Elect. No matter how hard she tries to stay away, The Elect are always around her and it isn’t long until she finds out the reason why they keep their friends close and their enemies even closer. She just didn’t realize she was the enemy — until it was too late. [/note]

THE LOWDOWN: This book starts out with a bang. I loved the first 50 pages with all my heart. I thought the pace was great, the story fun and the narrative witty and smart. Then the plot thickens and the story becomes so unbelievable, I actually rolled my eyes. That being, I do give the author credit for taking a chance and thinking outside the box. It wasn’t that the story was weak, it was just ridiculous.

Most new adult books are full of formula and although I have grown a little tired of it, it’s still fun to see what spin, if any, the author will throw into the story. Elite is listed as new adult, but it doesn’t have any of the telltale markings. It isn’t mature, there are no steamy/hot sex scenes, no “adult” language and the antics were rather youthful (until the second half, but more on that later). Actually, the only “adult” part of this story was that it takes place in college and not in high school. The protagonist Trace, travels to Chicago from Wyoming to go to a school for the uber rich named Eagle Elite (Dumbest name ever), where Trace finds herself facing off with the elite of the school, who are gang of silver spoon jerk-offs who call themselves the “Elect”. It doesn’t take long for her to learn those big city lessons, which she discovers the hard way. Luckily, she has thick skin and a smart mouth that gets her in loads of fun to read trouble. Her character was great. She cried a lot, but with what she goes through… it was warranted. She is taunted, beat up, tricked, and teased for a great majority of this book, but I loved it. It made the probable payback worthwhile. Whether it happens, you’ll have to read it to find out. The one downside to her personality was her inconsistent behavior. She comes to this school as a virgin in all senses of the word and by the end of the book (only a couple months later – if that) she is a desensitized hardass. It wasn’t a good move on the authors part, because it made the character arch disjointed and I didn’t like it.

The downside to this review is that I can’t give away any spoilers, so I need to tread lightly and unfortunately some of my least favorite parts of the book come after the midway reveal. Just know that the secrets and deception are not only obvious by act two, but they are as utterly preposterous. But there are some safe zones for me to explore. First, I couldn’t get over the use of the word “anyways.” This isn’t a word, yet this skilled and acclaimed author repeats this misspelling over and over. Luckily, it was in dialog, but come on… not one of these college students knows there isn’t an “s” at the end of that word? The other killer for me was the rationale of the Elect leader Nixon, (also the love interest) who explains his deplorable behavior as a tactic used to divert negative attention from Trace. I didn’t get how branding a new student a “cow” or “slut” would deflect taunting. Not to mention all the crazy explanations made the story, at some points, completely convoluted. Yes, sometimes there can actually be too much plot. Lastly, it was a bit difficult to believe that no one in college cursed and when you read this novel and figure out what the secret is, you will definitely see the lack of cursing as inorganic to the characters… trust me on this – more than a couple of f-bombs would drop from this group. I know this is a minor issue, but I don’t understand the need for throwing in all the “gosh’s” and “golly’s”, especially when the word “whore” and “slut” take up a third of this book.

The narration was great in the beginning, okay in the middle and absurd by the end, but only because the events and behaviors were wholly implausible. As I mentioned before I didn’t mind the protagonist, but by the end she became less attractive. I found her decisions odd and her reactions silly and without Nixon, who by the way, cleans up nicely, I would have thrown the book against the wall out of sheer annoyance.

FINAL THOUGHTS: So if you are looking for a days read while basking in the sun (with sunscreen!) I would definitely recommend this. You aren’t going to get a brilliant book with delicate and heady prose; you aren’t even going to get a great New Adult, but you will have fun reading this wacky story.

Sara O'Connor
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