Published by HarperTeen on April 24, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
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.
I debated whether or not I wanted to read The Selection by Kiera Cass for a couple years, and I finally decided to give it a try after finishing a book that took me three weeks to read. I needed some book candy. In other words, I wanted to read something that I knew wouldn’t be the best book out there, but would allow me to indulge in something sweet. The Selection definitely fits that description.
I’ve heard this book described as The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games, and I agree with that categorization. In this book we follow teenager America Singer. She lives in a country called Illéa, which is geographically located in North America, post the Fourth World War. America comes from a poor family, and receives the opportunity to enter a competition in which one girl from every province in Illéa will vie for the chance to marry the prince. Of course, America enters the competition at the suggestion of her mom and secret boyfriend, and the story unfolds from there.
I really loved how fast-paced and fun The Selection is. I read this book in a 24-hour period, and really enjoyed the storyline. While the book is extremely predictable and a bit derivative of The Hunger Games, I had a fun reading experience. I absolutely love reading about books where a competition is at the forefront. There is just something about a good game that really excites me, and The Selection is no exception.
Unfortunately, I do have a lot of troublesome thoughts about this book. I recognize that this is a dystopian world, and it is purposefully written to be a world in which we would not want to live. However, I worry that a lot of young girls will read this novel and not take that into account. For example, women are subordinate to men in Illéa, and are required to conform to certain standards of beauty at all times. Chastity is extremely valued, and it is against the law to have premarital sex. Even more troublesome is the fact that all romantic relationships in Illéa are heterosexual. There is never a mention of anything but a relationship between a man and a woman.
As an adult reading this book, I can see this is a fictional world. A younger reader might associate Illéa’s customs with a guide on how to act, especially since women in America today are still struggling for equality. I mean, it would be a ton of fun to live in a palace and have beautiful clothes and amazing food. Wouldn’t it be fun to marry a prince, even if that meant being his submissive wife? If this was an adult novel, I wouldn’t have these same hesitations, but in a book aimed towards young people, I think it might do more harm than good.
Moreover, the writing in The Selection was a bit lacking for me. There are a plethora of sentences that end in prepositions, and while I recognize that a teenager is the narrator, I wish such improper grammar was limited to dialogue if it truly had to be included. There are also comma rule issues, which I know is a small detail, but one that I expect to be perfected throughout the editing stages of every published novel.
Nevertheless, I did really enjoy the characters in this novel. America is a very likable protagonist, and I was rooting for her from page one. She does have that cliché personality where she is different from all the other girls, but I think that works in this book. I also love Prince Maxon. He is a bit of a mystery, but always goes above and beyond to be a kind and caring person. I would love to read from his perspective at some point in the short stories that accompany this book series.
Overall, The Selection is the book candy I was looking for, and I immediately am continuing on with this series. Perhaps I am taking the book a bit too seriously when I look below the surface and see what effect it could have on society, but I am interested in hearing your thoughts if you’ve read it as well. I do recommend it if you’re looking for a fun and fast-paced read, especially if you love a good competition story as much as I do. Make sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on the other books in this series very soon!
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