As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

January 28, 2013

THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass, 2012

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. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Natalie Gorna

I admit: what attracted me to THE SELECTION was its front cover.  Yes, I know you shouldn’t judge any book by its cover, but those gorgeous, fluffy blue dresses intrigued me.  I kept wondering what kind of story hid behind such an unusual look.  It’s almost like “Cinderella.” But there’s a catch: the plot’s set in a dystopian society with a new division of the classes, and its heroine is no Cinderella.  

Set in a post-apocalyptic United States, renamed Illéa, America Singer is a musician working hard to support her family.  She also happens to be in love with a guy who’s beneath her “caste” level.  Then the event of a lifetime happens: the Selection, where thirty-five girls are chosen for a contest.  The prize: Prince Maxon and becoming Queen of Illéa.  America just wants to marry Aspen, but in a twist of fate, she is selected.  Now enduring a competition she never wanted to take part in, America discovers more than she ever dreamed possible.  Prince Maxon and Illéa are not all they seem on the surface, nor is the Selection.  And true love was never so hard to win as it is now.

I was rooting for America the moment I met her.  She is outspoken and strong, not to mention incredibly dedicated to her family.  And she is a wonderfully talented musician!  I didn’t really buy America's relationship with Aspen, but Kiera Cass had me hung over her words despite all the drama and love scenes between those two.  On the other hand, from the moment America has her first encounter with “stuffy” Prince Maxon, I couldn't help cheering for their friendship.  They have an awkward relationship at first, but the transition from less-than-eager friends to a solid friendship blossoming into romance was very sweet to experience, especially through America’s eyes.  The direct honesty between her and Maxon is rare in many romantic situations.  And honestly, Prince Maxon really is an adorable character, from his confusion over crying women to his gentleman-like manners and sincere courtesy.  He acts admirably toward all Selection girls, but his connection with America points toward the possibility of her being closer to winning the prize (and the ultimate romance) than she knows.  They make a great couple, and their dialogues are some of the most entertaining and tender in the entire novel.

It is interesting how “The Selection” so realistically creates a hypothetical scenario of what life could be like in the U.S.A. if the political world changed drastically in modern times.  Cass chooses a path from the crossroads of “cause and effect” and paints an almost surreal picture of how that old adage is so true: history always repeats itself.  America is the midst of a scene that is on the point of changing for better or worse, and I have a feeling she’ll be a major part of upcoming conflicts in Illéa.  I can’t wait until “The Elite” comes out next spring and America comes back to narrate more of her story with Prince Maxon!

Market: Young Adult fiction
Language: Mild
Sensuality: Moderate (touching and kissing, but no more than that)
Violence: Mild
Mature Themes: dystopian, revolution, identity, relationships, prejudice


Alice said...

This book sounds like one I'd like to read. Thanks for the review.

Anonymous said...

Keep doing what you're doing!

A Writer's Nakama