by Kiera Cass
Genre: Dystopian, Young Adult
Pages: 327 (hardback)
Publication: April 2012
Goodreads Summary: 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.
Review: Following the fourth World War, the United States no longer exists. Formed in its place is a new country called Illea. The post-war world has undergone a radical change. Society is divided into castes, each having specific professions and status assigned to it. Gone is the democratic vote to elect a president; Illea is ruled from the throne by a King and Queen. The sons of the Royal couple remain in Illea to rule, their daughters are married off to the leaders of other countries so that this young nation can form political alliances. This is the setting of Kiera Cass’ debut novel, The Selection.
Enter Prince Maxon, son of the King and Queen of Illea... and a young man of an age to need a wife. The plot of this story is the quest to obtain a princess. How is that done? In Illea, the Princess is to be a ‘true daughter’ of the country; therefore a lottery-type drawing is held. One young woman is chosen from each of the 35 provinces to compete to win the heart of the Prince and become the Princess.
America Singer is a 16-year-old girl whose family are Fives, artists; America is a musician. She and her family struggle to make ends meet, especially during the winter months. They have enough to survive, but just barely, and there are rarely extras. Agreeing to submit the application because it will allow her to save money for her future, America never dreams she’ll be Selected. She has plans for her life which don’t include wearing a crown; she’s in love with a neighbor boy, Aspen. The only problem is that Aspen is a Six, a servant, and marrying him would be a step down... and America will have to fight to convince both Aspen and her mother to accept this change in her status.
But when she is Selected and goes away to Angeles to compete for the crown, she sees a world the likes of which she has never dreamed. Not just one of expensive gowns, jewels and limitless food, but a world in which she could make a difference... if she were the one at Prince Maxon’s side.
Maxon is all that a young royal should be... handsome, intelligent and caring. He’s also incredibly isolated by the lifestyle of the Royals and the threats to the Royal family. He finds a friend in America, an unlikely companion and counselor, and he quickly comes to care for the unique young woman who truly doesn’t want his crown.
The Selection was a fun, quick read. For all that the story is set in post-war, the writing is never dark and focuses mostly on what it’s like to be one of the young women competing for the crown. I liked both America and Maxon, though I felt their voices were a little more mature than the teenagers who have been running through my house for the last ten years. *laughs* I liked the secondary characters that we were given insight into, and was amused at the interplay of all the girls personalities. I enjoyed reading the brief exchanges that showed the true political machinations at work in this young country.
BtCers, you know I have a serious love affair with dystopian books. *owns it* But I have to say that while this book is billed as dystopian, it really never seemed to be one to me. There was no true world building. Aside from telling us that there was a fourth World War, we are never shown any of the repercussions. We don’t see much of the world, at all. The book is confined almost entirely to the Illean palace. I would have enjoyed ‘seeing’ more of this world, so that I could better appreciate the characters individual struggles. I also never really felt any true development of the love triangle between America, Maxon and Aspen... Aspen was almost a non-entity in the book, appearing really only at the end.
Overall, I enjoyed The Selection, and I am curious to learn more of this world... and to see what develops between America and Maxon.
Rating: 3 stars