Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012 (paperback international edition)
Overall: 3.5 Stars
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.
I wasn't really all too sure what to expect with The Selection. To be honest, I was initially very put off by some of the controversy and drama surrounding the book in regards to the negative reviews it was receiving, but after also hearing very positive thoughts on the book, I felt very torn. In the end, the allure of the cheaper paperback international edition and the stunning book cover couldn't keep me away... and I'm glad I kept an open mind on The Selection, at least giving it a chance.
The Selection is probably one of the lighter dystopian books you can find on bookshelves right now, but there are hints of a darker future to come in the next two novels of the trilogy. Out of the ashes of the United States, the nation of Illéa has risen to take its place with a monarchy as its head of state after years of war. Every citizen belongs in a certain caste system, with One being the best and Eight the worst, which limits their income, level of education and the careers they're allowed to have. When it's announced that Prince Maxon has come of age to marry, it's the chance of a lifetime for thirty-five girls to be chosen in the Selection and be swept away to a luxurious world of excess.
Every girl in Illéa would do anything for a chance to be one of the Selected and compete for the heart of Prince Maxon, but not America Singer. Her heart secretly belongs to Aspen, a young man who's a caste below her, but nothing is what she expected it to be when she arrives at the royal palace... especially not Prince Maxon, himself. Because the more time she spends with the heir to the throne, the more indecisive her feelings become. While she never intended to take the competition seriously when she first arrived, Maxon's sweet and genuinely charming personality has taken a place in her heart she can't deny. Despite my annoyance at America for her frequent denials of being beautiful, especially in the the beginning of the novel, I still can't help admiring her for sticking to the sensible advice of just being yourself as The Selection progresses.
Is it cynical of me to think that I was hoping for more backstabbing between the girls in the book? While there are rules in the Selection to stop the girls from hurting one another, I was certainly still thinking more of them would try to work around them. There's definitely at least one mean girl you just want to give the evil eye to in the book, but you don't really get to know too many of the girls except their names. Instead, some of the more exciting moments were the rebel attacks on the castle... but I wish we could have actually seen more happen than the girls being shepherded into one big room together. I'm really hoping Kiera Cass throws America into more dangerous situations in the next book... and that we learn more about the rebels's objectives instead of the propaganda the King tells his people.
I may have wished for stronger world-building and character development to bring The Selection to the next level, but I still think Kiera Cass's debut novel was an enjoyable, quick read. I was addicted to discovering what would happen to America next and learning more about the dystopian society she lives in. After liking The Selection more than I originally thought I would, it has definitely increased my eagerness to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy!