Review: Elite by Rachel Van Dyken
Elite (Eagle Elite #1)
by: Rachel Van Dyken
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-copy provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 322 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 2/5 stars
I honestly don't know where to start this review. This book was not at all what I was expecting. And I think that's why I absolutely could not put it down. Yet, as I read, I found myself wanting to throw my Nook across the room in disgust more times than I could count! The storyline was definitely intriguing. I don't think it was entirely believable, but I was entertained all the same. The one thing I could NOT get over however, was the treatment of the main character. It was wrong on so many levels and my heart broke for this poor girl.
Trace has won a scholarship to attend a private college and she is actually quite excited about it. After losing her grandmother, she now lives with her grandfather and she wants nothing more than to be able to take care of him. Attending a school such as this pretty much guarantees a solid future of opportunities. However, Trace never expected the type of people that went there. She isn't faced with over privileged, snobby rich people. She is confronted immediately by rude, outright degradation and shame. Seriously, my mouth dropped open at how vapid these people were. Her 'welcoming' committee is a group of guys, called the Elect, who basically tell her that she is less than nothing and that she will not survive if she doesn't follow their elitist rules. What. the. Hell.
"If an Elect talks to you, never make eye contact. Because, technically you don't exist. You're just a pathetic excuse for a human being, and at this school, you're a real tragedy. You see, while one of the Elect is out running for president and basically ruling the free world, you'll be lucky to be working for one of our companies. You follow the rules, and maybe we'll throw you a bone."
Trace doesn't go through some form of freshmen hazing- this is torture pure and simple. I've got to hand it to her- if this were me, I would have been on the first bus out of there. Yet, she remains and while she's breaking down inside, she does her best to hold it in and not show too much weakness. Things get marginally better when she meets her roommate, Monroe. Monroe happens to be the biggest asshole on the planet's sister. Yet, she is kind and understanding to Trace and tries to help her as much as she can.
I will be honest. I had a feeling biggest dickhole ever (Nixon) would be the love interest and I was literally shaking my head going, "No. There is NO way, I could ever warm up to this guy and like him after the things he said." And then I was left stupefied at how TRACE could ever feel anything romantic towards the guy who has publically humiliated her on more than one occasion and treated her as horribly as he did. I mean, REALLY?
"Trust me, Farm Girl. I don't care how much makeup you put on, or how expensive your clothes may be. I don't even give a rat's ass that half the student body likes you right now. You are charity. I wouldn't even screw you if you paid me. So, the answer is no. And next time you feel like showing up to one of my school's parties, at least have the decency to wear some new shoes."
Nixon's lackeys, Chase and Tex, weren't as bad as I originally thought. After Nixon made that statement, they were the ones, along with Monroe, who walked her back to her dorm. I was sick at this point. Trace felt confident and optimistic heading to that party, as Monroe had helped her get dressed and she was really proud of her shoes, as they were her grandmother's and they were funky vintage. Chase, at least, was sweet enough to buy her a new pair of boots and apologize for what happened the previous night. However, the one thing I learned from reading this is that no one is who they seem to be- betrayal and backstabbing is at every turn, and Chase, while seemingly a good guy, does make a stupid ass decision that had me pissed at him as well.
After being drugged by Phoenix, another Elect member, and carted off to a football player's dorm, Trace must do the walk of shame the next morning, earning her the title of whore and slut. (Thankfully, nothing happened with the football player) While Phoenix was the one who drugged her, Chase was the one who deposited her in the boys' dorm instead of her own. Nixon is furious at this, claiming he had no knowledge of this and that his friends had gone too far. Soon, Nixon becomes a bit more compassionate towards her, protecting her from the teasing and taunting that HE had initially started from that night at the party. After seeing the inscription on the back of her necklace, everything takes a 180. Suddenly, he is sweet and tender, treating her like a princess and that nothing is good enough for her.
This is where the book went in a different direction. I continued reading, not for the 'romance', but because I was genuinely curious about Nixon and his secretive background. Who has that kind of power at school? The Elect is in a league of their own, having their own lunch period, key cards, elevator access, you name it. Once you find out why this is, it's still not believable, but it was interesting to say the least. The story definitely took crazy twists and turns I never saw coming, but I just couldn't get past the horrible way Trace was treated and humiliated. Nixon doesn't even try to excuse his behavior. It's kind of an 'it is what it is' thing and I was seriously irritated. Sure, Chase may have been a dick and dropped her off at some random guy's dorm, which is bad, but not half as bad as verbally abusing and degrading her like Nixon did.
As interesting as the side story was, I don't think I'll be able to continue on with the series, because of my absolute disgust with the way a female was treated and how it seemed to be so easily dismissed, once Nixon discovered who she really was and what she meant to him.
This was my first book by Rachel Van Dyken, but I've heard some great things about some of her other books, so I think I'll give those a try instead.