Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: Harper Collins
Released: April 24th 2012
Pages: 327 (Paperback)
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.
I've been hearing about this book a lot over the past couple of months, reviews both good and bad, and I wanted to find out for myself what it was about. It took me about a day to read; I found it so addictive. But right now, I am about to have a massive rant, and it will contain spoilers - you have been warned.
This novel is set in a dystopian future America, where a caste system has been set up again (with Ones, who are mostly royalty, and Eights who are left to pretty much starve to death). America Singer, the main character, is a Five, and is therefore involved in the music industry, by playing at parties and the like. However, one day her family get a letter in the post, saying that she is eligible to participate in The Selection, where thirty-five girls from all over the country are chosen to compete for Prince Maxon's heart, with the winner ending in being his wife. However, America is different from the others girls; she enters because her lover, Aspen (who is a Six) asks her to, because if she doesn't he will feel like he is holding her back. And obviously, they break up and she gets chosen. A cliche, I know.
Now, I was only made aware of the differing reviews for this book the other day, and I have yet to look into it. So this whole review, like always, is from my point of view, and is only my unbiased feelings towards it. I have to say that I was hesitant to begin with, and since I was kind of expecting it to be bad, I did find the first few chapters quite boring - I mean, it was obvious she was going to be chosen to be in The Selection, why did we have to spend so much time on the lead-up? I think it would have been better if Cass had done what DeStefano did for Wither - have a chapter just briefly explaining what happened to get her into her current situation, and then immediately having the first chapter with her being in the palace - it would have left room for much more to happen.
Another thing that bugged me: it was so addictive. Each chapter was pretty amazing, and I literally felt as if I couldn't put it down - I constantly wanted to know what happened next. Including at the end. I like cliffhangers - they make me excited for the next novel. But this cliffhanger is so torturous that I hate it a lot. I thought that by the end of this novel, Maxon would have chosen a girl - preferably America. But he's only narrowed it down to six, including a girl who is actually pretty crazy, a girl who is hiding a secret, and America who is still making out with her stupid ex-boyfriend. I just know that Maxon will catch her and Aspen and it'll all go wrong, and if it isn't obvious, I am Team Maxon, for sure. I suppose the cliffhanger is good - I mean, it makes people want to buy it, right? But it has made me have a bit of a grudge against it - I want to know who wins now. Actually no; I want to slap America and tell her it will all backfire in her face.
I did have a bit of a problem with the characters. Maxon was pretty much perfect - you'd think he'd be annoying, but he was actually lovely; Cass characterized him so well, and I can't wait to read more about him. However, America? I didn't like her so much. I did like her feisty attitude, and how despite living like a One, she never forgot about her maids or anything of the like. But I really disliked the fact that she "didn't know" how beautiful she was, when it was obvious she was perfect. I complain about perfect main characters a lot - it makes it less realistic for me, and it's really annoying. She goes on and on about her not being as beautiful as everyone says she is, when it's obvious that she is. It was literally like Bella Swan all over again, which is an immediate turn-off. It's bad enough having one of them alive (if you can call it that) - do not make another one! And lastly, Aspen? I just wish he'd been left back at her home to whine about being a Six. She worked really hard to make him a lovely dinner, and he completely freaks out on her? Jeez, be grateful, jerk! And then when he comes running back to her, and she actually takes him back? No. Just no. Go away.
Overall, I did really enjoy this novel. It's basically dystopian future meets reality TV, a concept I really like. I suppose you could say it's kind of like The Hunger Games in the TV broadcasting aspect - but for me, that's where it stopped. Yes, The Hunger Games has a bit of a love triangle going on, but the main story is about much more than that - it's about literal survival, and change and a revolution. The Selection is literally just a love triangle, and not a great one either, and I think that was the beginning of its downfall. Cass could have improved on it so much, and I hope that for the sequel to this, she will take in any public criticism and work on it, to make the second novel everything the first one should have been. But if you do like dystopian novels that revolve around love and choice, then I do recommend it. But if you're looking for a deeper storyline? This is not for you.
(And as an afterthought - the cover is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. It is so eye-catching and beautiful. I hope for the sequel they use the same cover artist.)