By Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen
on April 24, 2012
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.
This was on my TBR for some time, mostly because I really liked the book’s cover, and I finally borrowed a copy from the library.
I liked this book. I didn’t love it, and I was kind of annoyed that I was reading a book in another series (although that’s my fault, I suppose), but it was a fun, kind of fluffy read.
America lives in a country that is made up of different castes, and the caste you belong to influences things such as what you can do to make a living and who you marry (it’s definitely frowned upon to marry into a caste below you). America is a Five, and is secretly dating Aspen, who is a caste below her. Their secret relationship seems happy and it appears that Aspen is set to propose to America. However, things change and America ends up being chosen to be part of the Selection, in which 35 girls are chosen to live in the palace while Prince Maxon chooses one to marry. And it’s all being filmed.
I know, it sounds like a weird ‘The Bachelor’ inspired story, but it actually worked for me. As America got to know Maxon, I began to like him and wonder about his feelings about the Selection – dating for pretty much the first time in his life, being expected to find a bride among girls he’s never met, and doing it all in front of cameras, with everything broadcast out to the people of Illea.
I liked America, but at times found her actions frustrating. For example, on the first day, the girls are told that they are not to leave the palace unattended, without permission (there have apparently been attacks by rebels on the palace, so it’s sort of a safety thing). And what does America do that night? Tries to bust out of the palace into the garden. Sigh. However, being a Five, one of the lower castes, she treats the palace maids much better than many of the other girls and royal family do, and this certainly endeared her to me. I also liked the three maids that are assigned to America, and hope that they are featured more in the next book.
America bonds with a couple of the other Selected girls, but after a while, she is the only girl left from a lower caste. The rest are mostly Twos and Threes, and there is one girl in particular who seems to be America’s nemesis. I can’t wait to see more of that rivalry! There is definitely some catty fun in a couple of scenes, which made me think of the beginning of Beauty Queens.
There were some dystopian elements to this story (the caste system and the population having limited freedoms; talk of a past war and re-configuring of North America; some talk of rebels rising up against the royal family), and I hope to read more about that as the series goes on. There was one scene in particular that interested me, in which the Selected girls are having a history lesson, and America realizes that some girls know some of Illea’s history that the others don’t, and that their caste seems to have influenced what they have learned about Illea’s founder and history. I’d like to read more in that vein.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Hunger Games at times (the whole send off scene reminded me of Katniss’s send off, for example, and there is a man who interviews the girls and the royal family for The Selection on television, who of course reminded me of Ceasar from The Hunger Games) but there is definitely not that kind of action in this book. There are a couple of tense scenes involving rebel attacks, but America’s not out there beating people up and fighting for her life or anything.
I don’t usually love romance-heavy books, and I’m getting tired of love triangles, but I mostly enjoyed this book. If you’re looking for a light, fun read and you enjoy YA-romance, I recommend this one.