The Selection (The Selection #1)
by Kiera Cass
Summary: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
Source: I purchased a paperback
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I have avoided this series for a long time now. I was afraid it would be another book with a pretty cover and a useless story. I've seen so many people end up disappointed by the book and I'd been warned it's just about has shallow as you'd expect from a story that resembles The Bachelor. Still, some of my friends rave about it. The people I follow on Instagram rave about it, too. Curiosity got the best of me, especially when I had a coupon at Barnes and Noble expiring and they placed it so nicely right by the checkout.
I really liked The Selection. However, I get why it has such mixed reviews. It's ALL about expectations. If you were expecting The Hunger Games or something similar with an interesting world and you wanted to explore a dystopian and figure it out, you would likely be disappointed. While The Selection is dystopian and futuristic, it isn't the focus of the plot. Perhaps it will be later on, perhaps not. It's rightly titled.. it's about the Selection. It's about a small slice of the world and the main character isn't an all knowing being who would immediately be skeptical or question anything. It's not that kind of story.
America and her family were lower caste people. They struggled to make ends meet. America was secretly in love with a boy from a lower caste than herself. In her world, girls didn't get to marry down. They married up and it elevated the family, like the old days of marriage. Her relationship with Aspen would surely never go anywhere, but like any teenage girl, she hoped that her family would want her to be happy. The royal family had a son, the prince, who was of age to get married. The girls in royal families married outside of the country to form foreign alliances. The boys, however, get to marry someone in the country. To give everyone a fair shot and to meet people he'd otherwise never see, they created the Selection. Every eligible girl (between certain ages) could volunteer to be a part of the selection. It wasn't mandatory, but girls were excited. Not only was it a chance to marry a prince, but also to go to the palace and experience everything that came along with it. The family of the selected girls would collect a stipend and the girl, even if not selected, would be elevated to a higher caste. America didn't want to volunteer, but her family and her secret love urged her to apply. Of course, since she's the main character, she was selected.
I'm pretty sure there's a lot about the world that we don't know and based on the small bits of information about what the society knows about history, I'm guessing there might be something wrong. But The Selection really didn't dwell on that very much. Instead, it featured America and her experiences at the palace as part of the selection.
I am not a big fan of The Bachelor or the idea that women should be competing for one guy's love, but I realized that it was basically the plot, so I was expecting a lot of shallow stuff, catty girls, fights, betrayal, girls setting each other up for failure, and girls falling all over themselves for the prince. However, it wasn't really like that. The Selection focused on the events in the palace, but in a tasteful way. There were some girls who were cattier than others, but most of them respected each other. America didn't get all stupid over the prince. They formed a friendship and she was rude to him, but also honest with him, which I loved. She didn't try hard to be something she wasn't. She rooted for her friends that she made along the way. Also, the prince wasn't a douche. He was quite likable.
I liked America a lot. She was passionate about a lot of things. She was a genuinely good person. I enjoyed her perspective. While parts of the book were things I expected, like the feelings she developed for the prince or the conflict of picking between him and what was at home, the book had plenty of opportunities to be shallow and full of tropes and it never quite stooped that low.
The Selection isn't the jaw dropping dystopian action novel that some readers expected, but it's also not the juvenile, catty, and shallow dystopian version of reality television, either. I think it's disappointing if you have the wrong expectations, but if you just want a good YA series that is different, it's worth reading. I'm anxious to read the sequel and I'm curious as to what may happen. America proved to me multiple times that she was not too stupid to live, so the first book was a hit!
Labels: Dystopian, Review, YA