Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Format: Hardcover, 327 pages
Publisher: April 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Series: Book 1 in The Selection series
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 the palace and compete for the heart of the 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.
If you love The Bachelor, you will probably like this book: it’s The Bachelor set in the future. After the fourth World War, the United States became Illéa, where everything comes down to the caste system. Based on what your ancestors were proficient at (singing, cooking, painting, farming, etc.), they were assigned a caste, to which you were born into. The prince of Illéa can’t get out to meet women, so the kingdom holds a Selection. 35 women live in the castle with the royal family while the prince whittles the group down to his one true love. Then he gives out the final rose… no wait, that’s not it. Sorry, I was thinking about something else.
I enjoyed America’s character, she was nice and funny and kind. She was a Five, just about smack dab in the middle of the caste system, but she didn’t care too much about the system and didn’t feel the need to treat anybody any different. She cared about her family, especially her little sister, and did what she could to help them. She started off a touch on the weak side, but her character grew and became stronger, which was nice to watch. Her parents weren’t very full characters, but they didn’t play a very large part. I questioned her mother’s obsession with getting America in the Selection, but I guess she saw that as a way out of their relative poverty. Prince Maxon was a sweetheart. At first, America thought he was a snob who was too full of himself to find his own mate, but of course, she soon learned that he was trapped in a an unfortunate situation so had to resort to the Selection to find someone he could love. I thought he was sweet and patient and funny. We don’t learn as much about Aspen as I would have liked, which made it difficult for me to care too much about him.
The other girls mostly remained one-dimensional, though America was able to get to know a few of them a little more than the others. There were the requisite clichés: the backstabbing bitch, the shy and sweet one, the loud gossip… We even learned a bit about her maids (each Selected girl was given 3!).
The dialogue included some new terms: we had to figure out the caste system, some unusual names (America, Aspen, Marlee, Gavril, Kota etc.) and the made up wars and countries. Nothing too difficult to get, however. There was a smattering of sexy hotness, but in a world where premarital sex is against the law, it was of the chaste variety. There were several moments of sweetness that just made me smile. I really liked how Maxon and America started off as real friends, with no flirting or conniving. Their relationship was honest and gradual, which I enjoyed.
The ending was a letdown. I understand the point of a cliffhanger, but this one didn’t sit well with me. I can’t say much without spoiling the ending, but I was really disappointed with it.
I’m curious to see how this plays out in the television show, and I must say, although I’m on Team Maxon, I’m very excited about William Moseley playing Aspen. I adore him and his floppy hair.
This book is pure fluff, no doubt about it, but it’s also fun and entertaining.