Title: The Selection
Rating: 3.75/5 Corrupt Governments
WARNING: Contains Mild Spoilers
The Selection is book one in The Selection Series written by Kiera Cass.
This story follows a young girl named America living in a dystopian USA that has now been renamed Illea, after the founder of the country that was left after the war. She is a Five in the caste rankings that now govern the United States, making her family poor and only a few steps above those that have no money, food, or resources, and thus resort to crime. As a skilled musician, America is trying to earn money for both her family and for herself, for she has a secret life that her family is unaware of.
America Singer is in love with a Six named Aspen, a handsome and hardworking young man that is a caste rank below her. America and Aspen dream of getting married and starting their own family, but they keep their love a secret since not only would America’s family be shocked at her marrying below her status, but they also have to meet in private after curfew due to both of them working. And meeting after curfew is punishable by death.
Despite the rather dismal situation, there is one event that may be able to provide hope for America’s family’s money problems: the Selection signups have started.
The Selection is a competition that any eligible young woman are allowed to compete in for the hand of Illea’s prince, Maxon. (Think: a dystopian version of The Bachelor.) However, while competing in the Selection would compensate America’s family greatly, America does not want to signup. Not only does she think it shallow and immature, but she also thinks that she wouldn’t get chosen to compete anyways. Anyone can sign up, but there are plenty of other girls out there that America is sure would be more worthy of a chance at the Prince than her. Besides, she has Aspen, and competing in a competition for another man is the last thing she wants to do.
When Aspen encourages her to sign up just to prove that she has a chance, America reluctantly agrees, but only because Aspen has asked her to. She has no interest in doing it for her family, and she stands by her resolve that she doesn’t want to compete for an arrogant royal.
What America doesn’t account for is a fallout with Aspen when he tells her he’s realized he’ll never have enough money to make her happy, or that her family will never let him ask for her hand in marriage.
And if things couldn’t get any worse, America is chosen to compete with the other girls for Prince Maxon.
Now desperate to get away from Aspen and the heartbreak she never thought she’d have to deal with, America agrees to compete and is sent to the palace where she finds that Prince Maxon may be more charming than she thought. But she is one of many, many girls that are at the palace, and while America may want to play fair, most of the other girls want to play dirty and see her gone.
OKAY. So, 100% honesty here – my thoughts are kind of all over the place about this book, and I want to be sure I explain why in enough detail since my rating is so low.
First, this book is actually really good, guys. This is one of those rare moments where I gave it a low rating because it’s not a book I would normally read, and thus it took me awhile to get into it. There are lots of people out there who think The Selection Series is worth four or five stars, and if you’re one of those people, then great! Once I got further into the book, the story really did draw me in, and I devoured the last half. The first half is what I have the most issue with…
Note: The first half of The Selection is p-a-i-n-f-u-l to get through. You can definitely tell that Cass was a newer writer when she started this series. The first half of the book has really cringey and over dramatic, and even sometimes unrealistic, dialogue. Truthfully, there were plenty of moments during the first half where I snickered to myself or rolled my eyes at how Aspen and America were interacting with each other. Instead of truly seeming in love, which is how Cass describes it the entire first half, they definitely seem like they might as well be competing and saying the most awful, cheesiest things on an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. And this was the biggest reason why it took me so long to get invested in the story. I pride myself on writing realistic characters and making sure the dialogue is realistic, and it is one of my biggest pet peeves when characters are cheesy or unrealistic.
The second issue I had with this book is a really minor one, and I’m only mentioning it in case there are other people who feel the same way that aren’t sure about picking up this book. The Selection Series is a dystopian series, but it is a very lighthearted series. Yes, there’s danger and political intrigue and problems. But again, it’s literally like The Bachelor in a few hundred years. And when I think “Dystopian”, I think The Hunger Games and Divergent. I think corrupt governments and political secrets and lies and big twists and a crumbling society. Yes, Cass’ society in her book is crumbling in its own way and there are political secrets, but it’s all pretty unrealistic, in my opinion. Since I don’t really like the idea of unrealistic dystopian stories, that’s why I had a small issue with this book and why more portions of stars were taken off in my rating.
That being said, once I got through the ultra cheesiness factors, this book had me hooked. I’ve never watched The Bachelor because just… *shakes my head* If you want to see a level of pettiness between girls, look no further, right? But this book actually really intrigued me and now I’m tempted to watch an episode or two to see if I can stomach it (send help, ha!). While the book is lighthearted, the ideas Cass presented were fresh, and I really respect that. It’s hard to bring fresh ideas to a table when it seems like anything and everything is getting written about and published. The characters were also really likable (at least, once you get through the first half). America does grow on you and she definitely matures more over the course of the first book. I imagine she matures more over the rest of the series as well.
Will I read the rest of the series? To be honest, I haven’t decided yet. I do have it on a list of books I’d like to try to read this year, but I’d need to fall into one of those moods again where I don’t want to read something deep, and instead I want to read something that doesn’t make me think. I hear the rest of the series gets better as it goes along, which does intrigue me enough to strongly consider making my way through them. We’ll just have to see how my reading mood swings. 😉
Have you read The Selection Series? What were your thoughts on it?