The Selection by Kiera Cass
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.
The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor in this poorly written but entertaining young adult novel by Kiera Cass. Though The Selection will never win any awards, it was a fun and easy summer read.
The premise was interesting enough. In a (sort of) dystopian future America, the population has been divided into “castes” that determine what sort of jobs you can have and how much money you will make, but pretty much nothing else. America’s (the main character’s name is America) caste-climbing mother convinces her to enter in to the Selection, a Bachelor-style competition to determine who will marry the crown prince. Much to her surprise America is selected and whisked off to the palace to a life of beautiful clothes and delicious food. Though she is determined to hate Prince Maxon and her heart belongs to another, she finds that really he isn’t so bad after all, and maybe she could actually LIKE him, or something.
Where The Selection really fell short was in the details. Ilea, the America/Canada country, is uncannily similar to Panem in The Hunger Games, right down to a required viewing Capitol broadcast featuring a Caesar Flickerman character interviewing the contestants in spectacular ball gowns. But while Cass was clearly trying to get the destitution which pervaded The Hunger Games to come across in her novel, it was undermined by the character’s family enjoying luxuries like popcorn each week. Hard to believe someone is really starving when they can afford popcorn.
The dialogue was also weak, and didn’t get emotions across very well. Often characters would burst into laughter over things that weren’t funny, or start weeping over things that didn’t sound particularly sad. While the things said were believable enough, they lacked descriptions or tone giving any idea of what the characters were feeling, leaving the book a little flat. And the love triangle felt very contrived, especially when America’s hometown boyfriend suddenly and not so shockingly shows up at the palace as a drafted guard.
But as I said, it was a fun read. I found myself really enjoying it despite myself. I will definitely be reading the sequels to find out what happens. I recommend it to anyone who likes YA books and doesn’t mind a silly love triangle.