Wednesday, January 16, 2013

review: The Selection

Title by Author: The Selection by Kiera Cass
Series (if applicable): The Selection #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date:  April 2012
Page Count:  327
Source: library
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 a palace and compete for the heart of 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.

My Interest in this book is: Loved the cover!  I did see mixed reviews on this, but when I saw it at the library, I wanted to judge for myself.

My Review:
Cast of Major Characters
Aspen – boyfriend who’s a Six
Maxon – prince and not what he originally seemed.
May – younger sister and very excited for America
Marlee – best friend of America at the castle
America – lead character, musician and one of The Selected

It is after World War IV (you don’t find this little tidbit out until after the halfway point of the story) and the world is fractured and run by the Chinese (I think).  There is a caste system in place with eight different castes.  America Singer and her family are called Fives, as they are a part of the fifth caste which is comprised of artisans of varying types.  For instance, America and her mother are musicians while her father, younger sister and old siblings are artists.  There is also a monarchy that rules over the land (a map would have been very helpful; but, alas, it was non-existent) and the king and queen’s only son, Prince Maxon, should be married off.  The current queen was picked through The Selection, a gathering of 35 girls between the ages of 16 and 21 years old.  A girl is picked from each region, thus the number of 35, regardless of her caste.  It is supposed to be a lottery, by why do the girls have to go in and have their photo taken if it is by chance.

America happens to be in love with a Six – Aspen.  It is a forbidden love, especially since Aspen is from a lower caste, and America’s mother hopes for so much more for America, and from her!  Aspen barely has enough money to feed his family, so he is not quite ready to marry America.  However, he encourages her to put her name in for the lottery, because he doesn’t want a “What If” hanging over their relationship.  Little did either of them know that America would be picked from their district (sound a little Hunger Games to you, too?!)

America goes with a devil-may-care attitude and is only doing it for the money that it will bring to her family.  Little does she know that this attitude of hers would actually make the Prince turn to her even more, as she is not like the simpering wannabes in the bunch.  Like any good reality television show, girls are released back into the world and out of the Selection, but the one you want to hate is still there, along with America and a few other girls.

My first real problem with this story is that the world building seemed half-finished.  You get a sense that it is a possible future; but how did we get to that point?  You also kind of get that it is set in what we know as the good ole United States of America, but how can anyone tell.  Also, where is there a caste system?  Who determined the castes and how was the structure created?  Who exactly are the Rebels and what are they after (that is the on going mystery!)?  Too many questions left unanswered that could have made this book so much more enjoyable.

But, with that said, I have to admit that I stayed up late at night to read… finishing my chores quickly so that I could get back to the story.  I wanted to see what happened between Maxon and America.  What is Maxon really like?  Does he really like all of these other girls?  What about Aspen?  What is a girl to do?

The characters were drawn well-enough for me to invest myself in the story.  When I saw that there was a follow-on book, did I want to know what it was about before I finished The Selection?  I will read the follow up story, but I am in no great rush to do so.  It was an entertaining enough story, but not one that had me on the edge of my seat.  I do hope that there is more information in the next book to see how the world of The Selection was created.  It was a quick read with an interesting premise, but seemed to be pulled from so many different types of entertainment that it got a little stale.

Favorite Quotes:
That was the truth at the core of everything.  I didn’t know what I wanted yet, and I couldn’t let myself be swayed by what was easy or what someone else thought was right.  I had to give myself time to decide what was best for me.
When I finished this book, I felt: okay…. Glad I finished the story but not itching to get on to the next one.  The cover is still pretty!
Rating: 3 stars
Other books to read by this author or theme: I guess I would say The Hunger Games, but I still haven’t read that one yet!  (I know…I know…)
Tag: dystopia, teen, The Bachelor knock-off
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