Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Description: 327 pages, Young Adult Fiction
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.
The Chance of a Lifetime
The premise of The Selection is admittedly foreign to me. I honestly didn’t care much for the story at first, and would have put the books back right on the shelf where I got them, if not for the eye-catching ball gowns and the fact that America Singer looked stunning on the covers. Publishers Weekly expressed what is arguably the most accurate statement regarding this book, in saying that it’s “a cross between The Hunger Games (minus the blood sport) and The Bachelor (minus the blood sport)”. I wasn’t buying that, because I like action in my books, and having next to none of that didn’t exactly suit my fancies. I’m a fan of The Hunger Games because of the blood sport, and though I don’t give a fork when it comes to The Bachelor, I was head over heels in love with the bachelor, Prince Maxon. He was more than half the reason why I grew to appreciate this book, the other less-half because it was reminiscent of America’s Next Top Model (photoshoots, fancy dresses, fancy palace, fancy food, fancy pretty much everything), and that show by the way has been my guilty pleasure since childhood. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Selection, and didn’t find it as petty as was expected. It wasn’t great, and I’m not exactly recommending it, and though I share a somewhat ‘love it hate it’ relationship with this book, I’m happy to tell you that I’m currently leaning towards the loving, as I look forward to the release of The One.
The American Dream
My main beef in this book was hands down, America. That wasn’t good, because she was the protagonist, and insofar as I have read through the minds of various others, she was by far the most excruciatingly annoying pain in the ass. She judged people too easily and begrudged Aspen his decisions, despite the rationale behind them, and the fact that he did them only to avoid hurting her feelings in the long run. Coupled with the fact that most of the first few chapters were declarations of her love for him and vice versa, the criticality with which she handled Aspen didn’t sit well with me at all. I also thought that she lacked character development in aspects not necessarily relating to Maxon—she, for example, transitioned way too easily and conveniently from hating The Selection to embracing it. I didn’t get why she singled herself out as the girl to beat right from the very beginning, which she, by the way, based on compliments she received from the general public, the same templated praise for practically everyone else. Before she (thankfully) adjusted to the palace and to the entire selection process, America was such an impudent weakling that it was hard for me to take her seriously. She needed constant saving from Maxon, which only served to enhance his swoon factor, as well as deplete her credibility by the same ratio. However, she grew progressively stronger from one chapter to the next, and by the end of it I realized that all her mistakes and imperfections only led me to genuinely appreciate her metamorphosis into a more independent and open-minded America. The annoying version of her was probably a strategic move on Kiera Cass’s part, and for once I was glad to know that someone else in that book was even more irritating and misogynistic.
Maxon Schreave, Prince Of Illea
Prince Maxon was more than America’s redemption. The entire idea of The Selection was sickening to me at first, but it started to make sense as the book went on. I didn’t think I’d love Maxon’s character as much as I did, mainly because he was entertaining thirty-five beautiful women all harrowing for his attention. However, Maxon made up for everything America lacked severely—and then some. I actually started liking the origin of Illea because of how he balanced his duties out with the selection process. I don’t usually favor characters given everything on a silver platter, but Maxon was a gentleman, thoughtful, smart, understanding, swoon-worthy, just downright amazing. I didn’t find myself bothered in the least by his relationship with the rest of the girls, because he tried to keep his distance instead of schedule them all for visits to his royal bed chambers. He sometimes had to play the player card, though that wasn’t his fault and I blamed none of that stupidity on him. He was by far my favorite character, though Aspen didn’t do too bad in the nice guy department either.
A Different Dystopia
I found that the preparation scenes in this book were girly enough to isolate part of an audience and alienate the rest, though this was, fortunately enough, just right up my alley (which brings me back to the ANTM problem. Forgive me). However, it wasn’t as dramatic or suspenseful as what I’m used to, and there were awkward dialogues in between attacks (which they never should have had the time or peace of mind for). I was mentally preparing myself for a less than mediocre action scene, and that was a mistake because there was essentially none of that. There were maybe some skirmishes and a few scratches to otherwise flawless skin here and there, but there was just nothing else that could have spurred my emotions into feeling afraid for any of them. I felt none of the urgency they did in terms of neutralizing rebel attacks. The Maxon-America scenes, which I guess replaced the missing action in some way, were thankfully things I learned to appreciate. They were sweet and understood what the other went through, and they tried to give each other time and space to sort out their feelings. I loved the delicious, creeping deliberation with which their relationship blossomed, and though Aspen was still in the picture, I was happy that America had someone to hold onto under duress.
In conclusion, I think this book is a worthy enough read, though is probably not the best choice for readers who like their books fast paced and straight to the point. In terms of amusement however, I think this book packs in a lot of that, so if you’re in to anything just for the kicks, I urge you to consider.
What do you think? Tell me in the comments below 🙂