For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity 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, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she beings to realize that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
First published: 2012
This book’s a bit different than my usual (YA) reviews, since I don’t think I would’ve picked up The Selection if it weren’t for my dissertation. I’m not that big a fan of YA dystopian lit (although I loved The Hunger Games), so it’s not something that would’ve caught my eye very soon. Also, the very Bachelor-esque premise isn’t really my thing. Having said that, I did enjoy reading The Selection, although I read it in critical, feminist, dissertation mode.
I think what was most affected by this is my view of the characters. America is the main character, and while I liked her and her awareness of how idiotic the Selection is, she could be a bit frustrating and annoying at times. There was a bit too much angst for my taste, but overall she was a good protagonist.
What I didn’t like was how the rest of the girls in the Selection were portrayed. Maybe that gets better in the sequels, but they were very flat characters (in my opinion), who were all very stereotypical, either in the frail girls category or the huge bitch category. There wasn’t really that much of an inbetween, apart from America, and that bugged me.
Then there’s the guys: Aspen and Maxon. I didn’t like Aspen at all. He was much too proud and too caught up with having to take care of America, who didn’t need taking care of at all. Aspen was a perfect example of fragile masculinity, and I have a very low tolerance for that.
I liked Maxon much better – he was sweet and had his heart in the right place. He was also extremely oblivious to everything that was going around him, though, even though he’s supposed to be ruling that country one day. His habit of calling all of the girls “my dear” made me cringe as well, but luckily America called him out on that. One thing that made me like him a lot less was the fact he pulled rank on America in a conversation they were having as friends, saying that she’d better show some respect, since he was the prince after all. Not cool, man.
Of course, I cannot talk about this book without mentioning the dystopian setting. I thought the caste system was quite interesting, although it could’ve been worked out a bit more (I guess that’ll happen in the sequels). I’ve read somewhere that a lot of people think it’s a rip off of The Hunger Games, but I didn’t feel that way. Yes, there’s also a caste system, but that’s not something that Suzanne Collins invented or anything. I thought the Selection, though very reminiscent of The Bachelor, was original as well, especially when you consider the novel is a (loose) fairy tale retelling. And, as is the case with most dystopian novels, there was some nice social commentary here and there, which I can always appreciate.
Overall, I liked The Selection, but it didn’t blow my mind. I’m also not sure if I’m going to read the rest of the series, because I’m not all that invested in the characters, although I am kind of curious as to how that twisted competition will unfold. Either way, I first have to get that dissertation out of the way – we’ll see if I have any interest in this series after that!