The following article contains spoilers.
Please read at your own risk.
The One is the third book in The Selection Series and the last book in the main trilogy by Kiera Cass, preceded by The Elite, then The Selection. It was released on May 6, 2014. It is the last book in America's point of view.
The Selection changed America Singer's life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she's made her choice . . . and she's prepared to fight for the future she wants.
Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
The book begins with another rebel attack occurring, though it's very brief and non-violent. When America returns to her room, she finds a letter from her sister May informing her of the birth of their niece, Astra, Kenna and James's daughter.
Two leaders of the Northern rebels, a man and a woman, arrive at the palace, taking advantage of the King's absence for a business trip in France, and demands to speak secretly to Maxon and America. They introduce themselves as August Illéa and his fiancée Georgia Whitaker. America recognizes her as the girl who saw her hiding up in a tree in The Elite, and bowed to her, during a previous rebel attack. August is a direct descendant of Illéa's founder, Gregory Illéa, but he doesn't want the crown. He insists that the Northern rebels actually support the monarchy and especially Maxon. They only want nominated officials and an end to the castes. The Southerners, however, want to kill off the royal family, take over Illéa, and leave all of the people in the lower castes in the same place they are now, although making promises to change their lives.
When Maxon asks him what exactly they want from him, if not money, August says that they want him to choose America as his wife, as they admire her for every brave thing she has done. Maxon refuses to let them force him into this decision. America, although she supports their goals, is also angry that they want her as their pawn.
During The Report, the King announces publicly that the rebels are now attacking people by caste, the castes of the four Elites, starting from the Twos and working their way down to Fives. America encourages the people of Illéa to fight back the rebels.
During a date with Maxon, he takes her up to the roof of the palace, where they both get wet under the rain and share secrets with each other. Dancing under the rain, they kiss passionately. America realizes that she really loves Maxon, but doesn't admit it to him.
One morning, America finds Celeste crying alone in the library, because of the sudden popularity America gained after the last Report. Celeste admits that she is jealous of her and afraid of her own future, because her career as a model will finish when she grows older. She needs the crown's fame more than she needs Maxon's love. She apologizes to America for the bad things she has done during the Selection and they become friendlier with each other.
America asks the help of Aspen to get her and Maxon to meet August. That night, they both dress as Sixes. Aspen and Officer Avery take them to August and Georgia's home. August reveals that there are already three hundred Twos dead around the country by Southerners. He asks Maxon for weapons so that the Northerners can fight the Southerners, something that Maxon has to think carefully about. When they leave, they are attacked by a group of Southern rebels with guns. They all manage to escape and return to the palace, but America is shot in her right arm, a non-fatal wound, which Anne and Marlee help to clean and stitch up.
A tea party will be held and each of the Elite has to invite two guests. America shares with Maxon her plan about the tea party: she invites the Italian princess Nicoletta and Georgia. When they meet each other, Georgia explains to Nicoletta the goals of the Northern rebels and asks her to fund their weapons so they can fight the Southerners. After contemplating, Nicoletta finally accepts this request, as she wants her country to support the future of Illéa, a possible ally.
Maxon gives as a present to America a set of earrings and a matching bracelet. It's tradition for the prince to present the Elite with jewelry that they wear in the Convicting. In this event, the Elite must publicly and in front of the royal family condemn some criminals to jail, instead of whipping. The other Elite send the criminals to jail for some years, but when America faces a thief who is punished to jail for life, for only stealing some clothes for his children, she is unable to do this. She realizes that this was the King's plan, to make her appear either disobedient or merciless to the public. As an only solution, she offers her earrings, her bracelet, and her father's necklace to the man, to pay off his debt to the king, thus releasing him from jail.
King Clarkson angrily forces Maxon to kick America out of the Selection, but Maxon insists that she is now too popular to leave. The King calls America and Maxon some days later to his office and informs them that the Italian royal family has invited the King's family to Italy, also asking for America to accompany them. He asks her how she became so friendly with them and managed to make the two countries almost allies, something that Illéa hasn't managed for decades. Realizing that America is too valuable and popular, the King decides that she can stay.
On Christmas Day, Maxon shows America his room. She admires his photo collection, noticing hundreds photos of her on his wall. He asks her again about her feelings for him and he kisses her passionately to "force" her to finally admit her love. Before it happens though, a guard arrives, announcing to America about her father's death, due to a heart attack.
America returns to her home in Carolina for the funeral. America's mother dismisses May and Gerad from the room, and asks for Kenna, Kota, and America to stay. She then gives each of them a letter from their father that he wrote before his death. In America's letter, her father, among his loving words, informs her that when he went to the palace on Halloween, he had found Gregory Illéa's diaries in her room and informed others about this. He did this for her sake, however, and he tells her to "look unto the North Star." America combines these words with the way his signature looks like the North Star, the stars on Georgia's jacket, and many other memories and realizes that her father was a Northern rebel.
When America returns to the palace, she finds that all the Selected girls are there to celebrate the engagement of Maxon with one of the only two remaining Elite: Kriss and America. Maxon has decided to end the Selection and will announce his choice the next morning. America realizes that the necklace Kriss wears depicts the North Star, revealing that she is also a Northern rebel. America confronts Kriss about this and Kriss tells her that at first she was in the Selection because she was a rebel, but then adds that when Maxon and America were fighting after Marlee's caning, she saw a chance to get close to Maxon and she fell in love with him.
America, no longer in a celebrating mood, leaves the party and goes to her room. Later, Maxon comes to visit and tells her that he has chosen her to be his wife and future queen. They begin making out and they ultimately admit their love for each other. They get undressed, almost to their underwear, with America telling him that she loves his back scars, because they are a sign of his love for her. A sudden noise in the hallway though stops them from going any further. Maxon simply sleeps next to her, both of them feeling safe and loved.
The next morning, when Maxon begins tickling America and she screams because of this, Aspen barges into her room and catches them during this semi-intimate moment in their underwear. He leaves in a hurry and America feels ashamed. Maxon later leaves to get ready for the engagement announcement. America talks to Aspen about what he saw, putting her hands on his chest. At that moment, Maxon appears again with Kriss and they are both shocked. Maxon finally realizes that Aspen was the man America had in mind all these months. Completely heartbroken and hurt, Maxon tells her that he can't marry her after discovering this and orders Aspen to get out of his sight before he sends him to New Asia to die. America tries to explain the situation, but Maxon refuses to listen and leaves with Kriss.
During the engagement ceremony, America prepares herself to hear Maxon announce his choice of Kriss. A lot of people attend the event, including all the Selected girls, August, Georgia, and even some of the Northern rebels in secret. Suddenly, Southern rebels dressed as guards start shooting, killing Celeste and Anne among many people. A rebel attempts to shoot America, but Maxon leaps toward her to save her life and gets hit below his left shoulder. Close to death, he apologizes to America for almost not choosing her, saying that he loves her to his last breath and that his heart belongs to her, so she can "break it a thousand times if she likes." He orders Aspen to save America, not him, and Aspen obeys, taking her to a safe room with the intention of returning and saving the Prince too.
America tries to escape from the safe room with a gun she found by shooting at the door, but to no avail. She promises to herself that if Maxon survives, she will allow him to call her "my dear." August and Gavril, who is revealed to also be a Northern rebel, finally come to set her free. The Northerners managed to fight back the Southerners with the weapons Nicoletta and America had secretly given them. August and Gavril take America to the hospital where she reunites with Aspen, who is severely injured but alive. He informs her that Maxon is also alive and is now the king, as both his parents were killed by the rebels. Aspen confesses to America that he still cares a lot about her, but isn't in love with her anymore. Lucy comes in at that moment and she and Aspen kiss, with America finally realizing and approving of their relationship.
She visits Maxon in his room where he is recovering from his wound. He tells her his decision about dissolving the castes, starting with the Eights merging with the Sevens and so on. He then gives her a beautiful engagement ring, officially asking her to marry him. She happily accepts his proposal.
In the epilogue, America prepares for her wedding with Maxon, having Marlee as her only bridesmaid. Marlee and her husband Carter are restored to her castes, as the attendants of the royal couple. The coronation will also be part of the wedding, where Maxon and America will be crowned as the new King and Queen of Illéa. Aspen, who will soon get married to Lucy, walks America down the aisle and gives her to Maxon, the two men now respecting each other. Maxon calls America "my dear" and they both smile, ready to exchange their wedding vows.
In the bonus epilogue, 2 years have passed after their wedding. America organizes a party for Maxon's birthday. We learn that Marlee and Carter have a 1 year old son, Kile. May has adjusted to the royal life and has become the "media darling". During the party, Maxon and Aspen have a conversation about married life. Maxon admits that he and America still argue sometimes, although this has died down a lot. Aspen feels a bit overwhelmed to be married, so Maxon proposes that him and Lucy should find their own home outside of the palace, a gift from the royal couple. America has a private conversation with Maxon where she gives him his birthday present: she announces to him that she is expecting their baby. They are both in happy tears and they rush inside the palace to continue the celebration.
- America Singer
- Maxon Schreave
- Aspen Leger
- King Clarkson
- Queen Amberly
- August Illéa
- Georgia Whitaker
- Celeste Newsome
- Kriss Ambers
- Elise Whisks
- Marlee Woodwork
- Carter Woodwork
- The Selected girls
- Shalom Singer
- Magda Singer
- May Singer
- Gerad Singer
- Kota Singer
- Kenna Orders
- James Orders
- Astra Orders
- Jemmy Leger
- Gavril Fadaye
- Tessa Tamble
- Kirstie Summer
- "I apologize for being out of uniform, sir." — Aspen Leger to Maxon Schreave
- "Come out, Mer, it's Max." — Maxon Schreave
- I found myself admiring them, wondering at the courage it took to run toward danger for the sake of other people. — America Singer about the palace guards.
- There is a different kind of beauty that comes with humility and honesty. — America Singer
- I watched as the palace was transformed. Almost overnight, lush Christmas trees lined the hallways of the first floor, garlands were strung down the stairways, and all the floral arrangements were changed to include holly or mistletoe. — America Singer about the palace getting ready for Christmas.
- "No one will know. And seeing as you were with the prince, I won't ask questions. Whatever you did, I'll trust it was something important." — Anne to America Singer
- Love is stronger than war. — America Singer
- "I need your help." Without batting an eye, he responded, "Anything." — America Singer and Aspen Leger
- "I didn't stand a chance, did I?" — Celeste Newsome to America Singer
- "Are you scared?" he asked. "No." "Me neither." But I was pretty sure we were both lying. — Maxon Schreave and America Singer
- I felt our noses brush in the dark, and the urge to kiss him came unexpectedly fast. — America Singer
- "It makes me nervous to feel some of the things I do. But I want you to know, I'm still looking at you, too."
- His body was now up against mine, his hand low on my back, holding me to him. — America Singer
- Her eyes became sympathetic. "America, you are full of nothing but bad ideas. Great intentions, but awful ideas." — Marlee Woodwork to America Singer
- The best people all have some kind of scar. — America Singer
- We were friends who realized they didn't want to be without each other. We were the other's opposite in many ways but also so very similar. I couldn't call our relationship fate, but it did seem bigger than anything I'd known before. — America Singer
- "You're breaking a lot of rules, Miss Singer." "You're the prince. You can just pardon me." — Maxon Schreave and America Singer
- These small words were the most frightening thing to pass between us. Because once they were out there, we could never take them back.
- When I'm with him I feel like I'm America. I'm not a caste or a project. He's just him, and I'm just me. — America Singer about Maxon Schreave.
- "This isn't happily ever after. It's so much more than that." — America Singer (The last lines of The One)
- ''Break my heart. Break it a thousand times if you like. It was only ever yours to break anyways.'' — Maxon to America
- The first three chapters of The One can be read in The Selection Stories.
- The first two chapters of The One can be read in The Guard.
- The background music of the trailer of The One was written by Jack Paccione Jr. and can be downloaded at: http://www.epicreads.com/blog/download-the-song-from-the-one-trailer
- A bonus scene of The One was included in a Barnes & Noble edition sold only in the USA. It is in Lucy's POV and can be read here.
- The second epilogue and the bonus scene from Lucy's POV are bind up as a hardback in Happily Ever After, published in October 13, 2015.