Review: Elite by Rachel Van Dyken ★★★1/2

Elite by Rachel Van Dyken
Genre: NA Contemporary
Series: Eagle Elite #1
Publication Date: April 14th 2013
Page Count: 322
Rating: ★★★1/2
Review Copy: Own Purchase
Reviewed by: Janice
Buy Link: AMAZON
Synopsis:  When I won the annual Eagle Elite College Scholarship lottery, I was thrilled. After all, my grandma had just died and I wanted to take care of my aging grandpa -- he couldn't be a farmer in Wyoming forever. And graduating from Eagle Elite meant opportunity.

But I wasn't counting on meeting Nixon.

Nor was I counting on the rules of the Elect.

1. Do not touch The Elect.
2. Do not look at The Elect.
3. Do not speak to The Elect.

And worst of all? Don't discover the secret they hide, because in the end, you may just realize... it's about you.

*This is a New Adult Book, blood, violence, cursing, sexual references, and drug use. Not recommended for those under 17.*

REVIEW 


A Slightly Shaky, but Good Overall Series Start

"Welcome to Hell". That pretty much sums up Tracey Rooks' first day at the exclusive Eagle Elite school. As a Wyoming farm girl surrounded by the rich and spoiled, she is very much the odd girl out. That would be difficult enough, but when she becomes the target of the Elect, a small and tightly-knit group of fellow students who play by their own rules and seem to call all the shots on campus, she begins to fear the worst. Fortunately, she finds an unexpected friend and ally in her roommate, Monroe, who is the twin sister of the Elect's leader, Nixon Abandonato. With Monroe's help, Trace gets settled in, but thanks to Nixon and the other Elect, she's never fully comfortable. Turns out, the Elect control everything, from eating privileges, to the staff, to...well, everything. But why do a bunch of college kids have so much power, and why they are allowed to get away with what seems like murder? That's the big question. 

I really liked Trace as a heroine. She has one of those clear, engaging voices that is easy to connect with, and I thought she showed admirable spunk, refusing to kowtow to the Elect and become another mindless minion worshiping at their feet. In almost every case, if they shot at her, she returned fire. I also enjoyed her interactions with Nixon. She was attracted to him and repelled by him at the same time, and the author did a fine job conveying the emotional push/pull Trace experienced. 

As for Nixon himself, well, he was a tougher case for me. My initial reaction to him was, "What a douchenozzle!" He's gorgeous, of course, and certainly charismatic, but he blew so hot and cold in the first part of the book that it took me a while to accept him as a viable love interest. Maybe I would have felt differently if I'd been able to get inside Nixon's head, but with the book being written exclusively from Trace's POV, I was stuck unraveling the Nixon mystery at the same time Trace was. That's not a bad thing, it just meant I didn't warm up to Nixon until later in the book. I also thought Nixon was a bit young to be....responsible for certain things (and yes, I know how vague that statement is, but I don't want to spoil anything!). It seemed far-fetched to me. I have to give Nixon credit, though. He did win me over eventually ;) 

Supporting cast-wise, I adored Monroe, Trace's granddad was kickass, and Chase (Nixon's cousin and best friend) really grew on me. And of course there are the "other guys", the ones I can't really talk about because it would spoil some of the book's best surprises - but they're important! Like, REALLY important. 

I can't lie. Elite does require some pretty big suspensions of disbelief, and that may be a problem for pickier readers. However, the writing is solid, the romance plays out well (even if it does happen a little fast), and....I don't know to describe it, except to say something about this story and these characters got under my skin. I'm too intrigued by all the "what if" possibilities to walk away. I simply must know what happens next!

3.5 Stars ★★★1/2

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