Author: Kiera Cass
Release date: April 24th 2012
Genre: YA; dystopian
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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.My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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.
***DISCLAIMER: I don't like to support bad author behavior, but when I bought The Selection, I had not heard of the author/blogger drama surrounding Kiera Cass. Having bought a copy already, I did read it, and I am reviewing it because, well, I like reviewing. This in no way means that I approve the author's or agent's actions, but I didn't let any of that affect my opinion on the book.***
The Selection sounded lika love-it-or-hate-it kind of book - I'd heard some say it's terrible and some say it's awesome. I wanted to read it for myself to see which party I'd agree with. Surprisingly, I still cannot decide - this book, somehow, is both terrible and awesome!
Let's start with the world-building, which definitely falls in the 'terrible' category. I can totally see why some people hated The Selection - judging by the world-building, it's one of the worst books I've ever read. The social system in The Selection is nothing new, very predictable - it basically just takes a little from all those dystopian classics and the recent dystopian bestsellers. We don't get a lot of information about the outside world, and what we do know doesn't always make sense. I have no idea how this world works, what's going on with the rebels. Maybe it'll get better later on in the series, but the world The Selection is set in is horribly underdeveloped.
The characters aren't exactly well-written, either. America Singer, you are the stupidest person I've read about in a long time, and that's saying something. Her decisions make no sense whatsoever. What bugged me most about America was the whole she-doesn't-know-how-beautiful-she-is thing - it always makes me want to rip my hair out when a character goes on and on about she's nothing special while everyone around her is gushing about her "natural beauty," blah, blah, blah. Add to that the ridiculous name, and you've got yourself a very frustrating protagonist.
The secondary characters aren't much better - the members of America's family and the rest of the girls in the Selection are all very flat characters. They each fall into a category like sweet and bubbly, shy, or bitchy, and that's it - nothing more than those cliches to their personalities. The whole set-up of the first romance, between America and Aspen, is incredibly stupid. It's the typical forbidden-romance storyline, just without any logic backing it up. America's and Aspen's families are friends, and there's only a one-caste difference between them. Still, they keep their relationship a secret because America's family would not approve, apparently, and the social differences are so huge. Their feelings for one another are melodramatic and can be turned on and off within a page. That whole storyline just annoyed me.
But... despite all of the bad stuff, I kind of loved this book. Once I got over all of that, once I accepted that the boundaries of logic do not apply to a book like this, it was so easy to get lost in the story. Because The Selection is so. Much. Fun. The whole thing just put a huge smile on my face. There is delicious drama and all-around fun stuff going on in this book.
And Prince Maxon. I loooove Maxon. I'm not even sure why, since he's not exactly a well-developed character, but I thought the romance was awesome. The way Maxon and America interact is hilarious! I guess I'm just a sucker for any pining-for-your-best-friend storyline, and Maxon and America are kind of like that. Usually, with love triangles, I either can't decide or like the back-home guy, which would be Aspen in this case. But in The Selection, I am Team Maxon all the way. I just want Aspen to go away so America can live her perfect life with her perfect prince. (Yes, I'm aware that's a totally superficial way of seeing things. But The Selection is the type of book to bring out your superficial, yay-she's-gonna-be-a-princess side out.)
Really, the comparisons lots of people have made, saying The Selection is like reality TV, sum up my feelings perfectly. If you think about it too much, both are ridiculous, and just plain bad - you can't really admit to liking them. But if you just manage to turn off your brain for a while, if you get used to the idea that things don't need to make sense, this kind of stuff can be awesome, and so much fun. The Selection is perfect feel-good, guilty-pleasure reading, and fun is what it comes down to in the end - even though The Selection was all kinds of terrible, I know I'll be reading the rest of the series. (Well, if it weren't for the author drama. I can't decide yet whether I can support that by buying the books. But still.)