by Kiera Cass
Book One in the Selection series
In the kingdom of Illéa, the future queen is selected through a random lottery. Thirty-five girls are chosen from different districts throughout the land, and they compete in a Bachelor-style reality TV show for the chance to become the wife of the prince. At seventeen, America Singer is the perfect age to be entered into the Selection for Prince Maxon, the only son of the king and queen and heir to the throne of Illéa. The problem is that America is already madly in love with a boy from her hometown. Inclusion in the Selection will bring upward mobility for the Singer family, and with the strict numbered caste system in place, America can't turn her back on the opportunity. After all, even if she IS chosen, what chance does she have with thirty-four other girls, nearly all of whom come from higher castes?
The Selection is like the Hunger Games if the violence was removed and replaced with the glimmering gowns and splendor of the Capitol. Instead of tributes fighting to the death, we have pretty girls trying to seduce a prince. Both competitions are broadcast to the general population in the ultimate reality TV.
I love this book for the guilty pleasure that it is. It's as addictive as chocolate, and really captures the drama and energy that makes it so difficult to turn away from reality TV shows. The descriptions of the luxuries of palace life contrasted with America's humble origins makes me eager for the inevitable movie adaptation. There are a few forehead-slapping moments when I want to shake the characters for saying or doing something stupid, but in the world of reality TV this is all part of the entertainment, so I find myself far more forgiving of America's bone-headed moments.
Prince Maxon is every inch the perfect, sensitive, well-meaning royal searching for true love from girls who desire him for the money or fame his position brings. I can't help but pity the poor guy; he's under tremendous pressure PLUS his love life is on display for all the world? How humiliating. I kept waiting for some darker aspect of his personality to surface, but other than a few haughty moments that I would expect from a boy from such a privileged, sheltered background he's pretty much a perfect gentleman.
I don't quite know what to make of America, our heroine. She's an interesting young woman. Initially, she enters the Selection because both her mother and her boyfriend think she should for the potential prestige, but no expects her to be a serious contender. By being honest with Prince Maxon about her wishes for the competition and offering him an alliance of friendship instead of romance, America manages to secure her position in the Selection. It's very cleverly managed. But a pretty young woman in a YA novel inevitably ends up in a love triangle, and America's moping over her sweetheart Aspen and her burgeoning feelings for the Prince are quite predictable.
The world-building is a bit vague, but if further developed it could be quite intriguing. Illéa, built in the ashes of a fallen America, is at war with New Asia. The country is also imploding, with rebels attacking the palace with a frequency quite disturbing to contestants in the Selection.
I ripped through this book with rare speed, and immediately started hankering for my next fix in The Elite. I don't pretend this is great literature, but it is delightful and entertaining, the perfect antidote to the more serious novels with important messages that I must read for work.
4.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about The Selection, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
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2014: Book Store Stories: Watch Your Placement
2013: Tides by Betsy Cornwell
2012: Fashionista Piranha is on a break until August 14th...
2011: Tales of the Tudors Book Giveaway
2010: News: Press “Pause” on Fashionista Piranha
2009: Ashland 2009: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
2008: Discussion Question: Explain Your Screen Name!