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.
Skimming through the blurb of Elite, I was... quite taken with the plot. It seemed mysterious and sexy. Very what I wanted my next New Adult read to be like: with some of the tried-and-tested New Adult formula, Gossip Girl-style drama mixed a dash of mystery and action. But once I started reading the book, I was... just... so...
Rachel Van Dyken sets Elite in Eagle Elite College; the destination of the rich and privileged. It is like a kingdom on its own and a gateway to opportunity. This mini-kingdom is however highly regulated as everything, from the cliques, lunch hall passes to elevator rides, are controlled by The Elect; consisting of Nixon and his posse.
Tracey Rooks is a country girl who, after spending half her life in a farm, is swept into the exclusive world of Eagle Elite College. Of course, since she's on scholarship, she is automatically treated like vermin by the populace there and dubbed Farm Girl. When she refuses to be treated like dirt and rebels against the "system", she catches the eye of Nixon. What follows is a capitalisation of how Everything is Not As It Seems, senseless attacks and slut shaming, regular students who behave like uneducated flakes, a surface-level love triangle, some mafioso-style action and Revelations (with a capital R) connected to Tracey's repressed childhood and lineage.
I found nearly half of it highly improbable and the other half repulsive.
Why would things like the number of elevator rides a person is allowed per day or lunch room allocation be left to a group of students, however high up and powerful they are? What's with nearly. every. person. in the book having zero redeeming qualities?
Barring Chase and Nixon's sister, Monroe, every other character -however significant or insignificant their role in the scheme of things- was stereotypical and judgmental. They weren't beyond egg-ing the New Girl or depriving her of her lunch just because she was "poor", "farm girl" and -allegedly- a "slut". The drama had a pained and sickly edge to it, very unlike the deliciousness of scandals in Gossip Girl. The students of Elite were more a part of a mob than individuals, echoing each other at every turn in a way that made me want to tear my hair apart. What do they even teach them at this place?
Seventy five percent of the book is filled with such WTF moments that go WAY over your head. It is ridiculous. It is over the top. It is riddled with implausible extremities. Even the love story, which had its moments, was ninety percent garbage. I wonder if Nixon would've ever acted on his attraction for Tracey, or if it would've been more than a lust-filled affair, if he hadn't figured out who she really was. It's a pity as the writing is not half bad, Tracey's back story is laced with genuine charm and tragedy and there are some parts that have you swooning. Also, it's fair to say that the plot never dragged or felt dreary at any point.
Too bad most of it was downright ludicrous! Elite #1 almost ruined the whole lives-of-the-rich-and-privileged theme for me. I would definitely not want to attend Eagle Elite College... even for a day... nor am I curious about what's in store for these characters in the later books.