Working my way through some H.P. Lovecraft and George Orwell recently, I decided to take a much needed break with a few lighter YA reading choices. I picked up The Selection, along with the next two audio books in the series, to give them a try.
A Little Background…
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.
Well, I’m not normally one to read books about princesses and kingdoms unless there’s some sort of evil dragons or crazy beasts around, so this was a bit different for me. The Selection Series takes place in a post World War IV world, where monarchies and a strict caste system have replaced democracy. The concept behind the societal structure and war-ridden history is interesting, but the explanations in the novel seem lacking and almost childish in their simplicity, which I found quite disappointing.
The story line mainly focuses on the love interests of America, a teenage musician who is unbelievably intelligent and well-informed despite being brought up in impoverished conditions. As is typical with most young adult fiction, our heroine finds herself caught in a love triangle with her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be in a lower caste and unsuitable for marriage in the eyes of many, and the prince, who seems to be hopelessly besotted with America even though she’s rude and ill-mannered in their first interactions (and not really over her ex). The other girls chosen for the selection range from unrealistically sweet and understanding to fiendishly and violently backstabbing. Overall the book is sort of like a teenage version of the show “The Bachelor.”
As you’ve probably already concluded, I had a lot of complaints about this book and the next two novels in the series, but overall I really enjoyed them, like, a lot! Although there are some plot holes and unrealistic discrepancies in character behavior, I was hooked. Partway through listening to the audio books, I borrowed my sister-in-law’s copies of the hardcover novels so I could finish them more quickly. Cass is a talented story teller who makes you fall in love with her world. Her characters are intriguing and the romantic plot twists leave you itching for more even as you cringe over what’s probably going to happen next. This was definitely one of the “guilty pleasure” types of series.
I give The Selection four out of five stars. The second two books in the series, The Elite and The One, were pretty redundant and predictable, watching America mull over her choices for the future and deciding where her love and loyalties lie, so I give those books each three out of five stars. I still enjoyed them, but they could have been shortened into one book.
This series probably isn’t for everyone, but I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a light, easy read. A great choice just in time for summer vacation!