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 avoided reading Kiera Cass’ The Selection for a long time. A cover with a pretty girl in a pretty dress and a love triangle? Ehhhhh. But some of the students in my class are reading The Selection for their book club project, and I ended up reading a little of it with them and well… I decided to keep reading
Think dystopian society meets the Bachelor, but mostly the Bachelor. Or at least what I have gleaned that the Bachelor is about based on articles I have read talking about how scripted and fake everything on the show is because I have never actually watched it. A bunch of girls compete to win the hand of the prince of what roughly used to be North America (?). All of them move to the palace and wear pretty dresses. Our main character, America Singer, is *unique* because she doesn’t actually want to be there and she couldn’t care less about marrying the prince. Fortunately for America, the “I just want to be friends” tactic has almost a 100% success rate in romance stories, especially if you tell the love interest this the first time you meet them. Then enters the love triangle. Which actually, wasn’t much of a triangle? America seemed pretty confident in her choice. At least in this book and then the sequel happens and we get thrown into drama on drama.
The world building was not the strongest part of this book. It’s set in future America after World War Four and has a caste system. I liked the inclusion of the caste system, because when I went to explain to my students that this is based off a real thing in India, my students said they already knew because they had been studying the caste system in Social Studies. It was awesome that they had already made that connection (and maybe readers who haven’t heard about the Indian caste system will learn more after getting interested through this book). Some of the world building problems get explained a little in the sequel, but it’s all still a little fuzzy. America (the country not the character) got into a war with China and it did not go well. This is seeming more plausible now that the Orange Menace is going to be president and can’t stop tweeting insulting things to China.
We are treated to many descriptions of wonderful food and gorgeous dresses. The banter between Maxon and America isn’t half bad, and I found myself rooting for them. This book was the reading equivalent of eating cotton candy. Not very substantive, but I might eat seven of them instead of hanging out in the pool at the sixth grade end of year pool party. It was great to have free cotton candy for the first four or five, but by the end I was just eating because I was bored. This has gone off the rails a bit (but is also an apt metaphor for how my enjoyment of the series is going downhill as I keep reading). Basically, the book is enjoyable as long as you accept it for what it is. And what that is a bunch of girls in pretty dresses fighting over a prince.
Want to give The Selection by Kiera Cass a try? Check your local bookstore or online here (because these books will be checked out of the library, I know I tried that).