The Selection is written by Kiera Cass. It was published in 2012 by HarperCollins. It is the first in a trilogy. Cass’s website can be found here.
“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 place that is constantly threatened by violence 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.”
What I Liked:
So, this is basically The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, without the profundity of the former and the drama of the latter. I can see glimmers of an interesting world peeking through, though, and the love triangle is sort of interesting, in a “I hope this isn’t as obvious as it appears” way.
I have to say, once America got to the palace it was very tough for me to put the book down. There’s something in those middle pages that kept wanting me to read more. Perhaps it was Maxon, who had some interesting and often amusing scenes with America. He’s probably my favorite character.
What I Didn’t Like:
This is an unabashed Hunger Games rip-off, plain and simple. You don’t even have to squint to see the similarities. And unfortunately, it doesn’t have the strength of The Hunger Games to carry it through the rough patches. The worldbuilding is incredibly expositional and info-dumpy, instead of woven in and developed more tightly. We’re just given a bunch of information about how the world got this way; basically, we’re told about it rather than shown it, if that makes sense.
I know we’re supposed to feel something for Aspen, since he’s America’s love or whatever, but he’s really just a flat character. Maxon is way more interesting than he is. I hope we learn more about Aspen, because I want him to actually be a dynamic character. Love triangles are bad enough, but to have a static character in there just makes the whole thing lopsided.
I was hoping that America would actually have to work to gain Maxon’s affections, but all she really has to do is yell at him and do things that people normally wouldn’t do around him and bam, he’s done. It’s the typical way this sort of romance is portrayed, but I wish people were a bit more inventive.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
I wondered if any of the other girls were sad today. I imagined that everyone except for me was celebrating. And I at least needed to look like I was too, because everyone would be watching.
I braced myself for all that was coming, and I made myself be brave. As for everything I was leaving behind, I decided I’d do just that: leave him behind. The palace would be my sanctuary. I‘d never think or say his name again. He wasn’t allowed to come with me there—my own rule for this little adventure.
“Could you please stop poking around and complete an entire thought?”
Maxon sighed. “Fine. What I was thinking was that you and I could have a sign or something, some way of communicating that we need to speak to each other that no one else would catch onto. Perhaps rubbing our noses?” Maxon ran a finger back and forth just above his lips.
The overall presentation was below average; there was so much mediocrity, clichés, and unoriginal thinking in the characters and the world. But something had me hooked in the middle section of the book, and because of that I’m curious to finish the series and see what happens.
You can buy this here: The Selection