The Selection by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen on March 26, 2013
Series: The Selection #1
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 327 pages Source: Borders
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For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, 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, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.
Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
I think that The Selection should bother me a lot more than it does.
First of all, there’s the story of how the author and her agent made a reviewer feel unsafe after a less than favorable review. Then there’s the fact that this book is correctly pitched as a dystopian, YA version of The Bachelor. And it is. And I don’t like The Bachelor. So by my usual standards, The Selection should really be a generous three star read.
But I enjoy it enough? I’m going to try to explain why.
The Selection doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s a super cheesy love triangle romance, with a peppering of catty girls and macho boys and general silliness. It’s not a masterpiece by any means. But at the same time, The Selection manages to be entertaining. This series is the closest I get to a fluffy beach read. It’s tacky and in this first book, at least, there are zero surprises. You have your basic tropes – the protagonist who sees herself as plain and uninteresting, the snobby girl who thinks she’s better than everyone, the prince who’s this really chill guy… there’s no originality in the writing. But kudos to Kiera Cass for being the first person who thought it may be fun to turn a dystopia with a royal family into a dating show.
It’s brilliant, actually. People love reality shows. I’m honestly surprised we haven’t seen more crossover ideas like this, trying in the reality aspect. Off the topic of my head, I can only come up with Nice Try, Jane Sinner and Spin the Dawn and they’re both recent. Even though (I think) it’s pretty obvious from the get-go who is going to win, it’s still fun to watch the girls interact.
And the “Women’s Room” and the interactions between the girls, or between America and her maid… those are the best parts of the book. Despite the fact that these women are constantly trying to undermine one another, Marlee and America’s friendship is one of my favorite female friendships in YA. I’m still not going to turn around and say that this book is pure brilliance, but I simply can’t deny that it’s fun.
The boys are sort of truly awful though. Maxon is bad – cheesy, awkward, generally eye-roll-worthy. Aspen is six times worse because of his pride that comes off an awful lot like sexism and the way he kinda sorta treats America like a possession? Yeah, not a fan of the boys, at least in book one. And even though there’s a story behind it, America’s name is sort of awful to me. Not to be completely unpatriotic… but come on.
I do have to spend a moment on the cover. The covers for The Selection, The Elite, and The One are my favorite ever. I will never be as skinny or as glamorous as the model on the cover, but dang a girl can dream of pretty dresses.
All in all, I rolled my eyes a lot, but I am still entirely entertained by The Selection. I think it’s one that will still appeal to young women of high school age, and even mature middle school readers. It’s not rich and profound, but it sure keeps your attention. And it’s a nice, quick read.
The Selection stays in my library!
To be perfectly honest, I have the first three books in this series, so I don’t think I would boot The Selection until I’d read through the others and assured myself that the series was completely dead to me. But I’ve read this book several times now, and even though there are no real surprises in the first book, the others I haven’t read so often and… yeah. It’s just entering. Plus the cover. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a cover buy in the first place.