The slut-shaming in this book was turned down to one maybe two scenes. Literally just two scenes had slut-shaming, whereas in the last book I counted a billion instances with it, along with the whole 'i'm not like other girls!' shit. So that made me happy.
Plus, there were Asians and Italians in this book. The first non-white people in the series. I was so angry with the whitewashing in the last book, and it was one of the reasons I really wasn't interested in this, and thought it would suck- but it didn't. The whitewashing stopped. Within the first ten pages one of the last six girls in the selection was revealed to be Asian. They didn't say she was white in the last book- they just didn't say she wasn't white. Which, obviously, means she was white. White until proven otherwise- that's the rule. We also got to meet her family, not in detail but still. Then halfway through the book we met a big group of loud, festive Italian women who partied at the palace during a peace-making attempt, and that was a pretty fun scene.
The writing in this was better than it was in the selection, too. Whereas in the last book a line might have been 'I was angry, and I told him to leave.' It was instead something like 'I was shaking with anger, and I slammed the door in his face.' So, yeah, more editing. It was noticeable, and it was nice. The writing and prose weren't anything spectacular, but they were better, and I was pretty invested.
We got a more in-depth look at the royal family, and it was interesting. Aspen was still as annoying as fuck for the entire book, but I can already sense how this love triangle is going to turn out so I'm not worried about him. America flipped out a bunch of times, not like a lot, but enough for me to be annoyed with her. Then, near the end she threw a huge fit and made a really shitty decision that I think may reveal itself in the next book to have been a good decision, but I was still pissed at how she was acting, and how she acted towards Maxon. Although, at the same time, if I had been seeing things from her perspective, and not as a mildly aloof reader, I would have acted the same way. I mean, after reading that diary she was in a pretty scary fucking situation, and I had to admit for a minute I was right on the same page as her, afraid as hell of Maxon. America's freak out led the novel into the height of it's arc, or the main conflict if you will. Shit went down, I gasped a couple times at how it played out, it was interesting. There was a great chance to kill off a main character- add some suspense and everything- but again Cass didn't take it. Silly author. Maxon is still my favorite character. Marlee is a close second, and I really liked what happened to her in this book. It was the one scene- oh that infamous caning scene- that had me literally squeal in excitement/horror while it happened. It was the one time in the novel where I loved America, and was like "YEAH- GO BITCH GO!" Really dramatic.
Overall I think the final book is going to be even better than this one, and I'm glad Cass is shaping up as an author. The first book wasn't bad- it just wasn't good. A few of the probloms I had with it were fixed here, and I'm grateful. I can honestly say I'm looking forward to the final book.
I really hope it isn't horrible.