Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Selection, Kiera Cass

The Selection by Kiera Cass (Australian Cover)
Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass (author website)
Release Date: June 7th 2012 by Harper Collins Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian... Kind Of.
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

Part The Bachelor, part Next Top Model, but mainly Disney princess fairytale, The Selection delivers what it’s gorgeous cover offers: beautiful girls, beautiful dresses, and let’s not forget one very charming Prince Charming.

From Goodreads: 
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…

It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's love.

Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.

Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret — one which could throw the whole competition… and change her life forever.

The Verdict:

Poor, but very pretty, seventeen year old America Singer is chosen by 'lottery' to be one of thirty-five 'lucky' contestants to compete for Crown Prince Maxon's heart. Problem number one: America heart already belongs to her forbidden love—the gorgeous, penniless Aspen Leger. Problem number two: America is not the least bit interested in a stuffy, boring prince. But it was Aspen himself who forced her to enter the lottery, for the chance of a better life, and Aspen who broke her heart and his promises. She soon discovers stuffy and boring are what the prince is not. Swept up in a world of gorgeous dresses, fierce competition and a side of her world America never knew existed, she begins to realise this may just be a life worth fighting for...

My Thoughts

Say what you will about The Selection, it’s nothing if not compulsively readable. While Cass doesn’t boast the most elegant of prose, her bubbly, light tone, and America’s easy manners are instant draw cards. Silly names aside, America is likeable and sweet, if not a little naive at times. In a world where strict social classes dictate what and who you can be the rest of your life—right down to your career path—America, born into a lower middle-class family of struggling artists, has known hunger and want and need, yet she's an essentially optimistic person, and rather than aggravating, it’s contagious. It’s hard not to root for this girl.
But it’s this rigid caste system that may be one of The Selection’s biggest stumbling points with readers. Sound dystopian, right? Here’s the thing: It’s not. As other reviewers have commented, it would best be described as 'light dystopian', if at all.

Set in a post World War IV North America, the United States of the past has crumbled. But the current government is not unfair, or oppressive. In fact, the royal family are fair and friendly, if not a little aloof. Readers expecting an exciting dystopian thriller will be disappointed; abandoning expectations is key. The world of The Selection is still compelling and richly imagined, but far closer to a pre-democratic monarchy England than The Hunger Games. Think peasants, commoners, gentry, and ruling class, transported into a (marginally) fairer modern world. Action packed The Selection is not, but there is intrigue hidden just beneath its pretty, polished surface. While it is only hinted at, it is clear this will be explored in future installments.

OK, that’s the serious out of the way. Let’s move on to the meat of the story: the romance. The Selection presents us with two suitors... and thirty-five competitors. Leaving her home with a broken heart, America meets Prince Maxon, the man for whose affections she’s meant to compete; the man she’s already determined to dislike. Imagine that, when she discovers he’s a halfway decent bloke. Surprisingly kind, fair, and thoughtful, a friendship develops between America and Prince Maxon, and slowly, a tentative romance blossoms. The Selection not only presents a love triangle, and encourages team debate, it revels in it. But it’s doubtful many readers will fall for America’s first love, the selfless, intense and gorgeous Aspen, and it’s not merely because his competition is a Prince. As America’s finds room in her heart for Maxon, it’s difficult not to fall prey to his charms. Never smarmy, or ‘charming’, Maxon is unequivocally, well, good.

The Verdict:

Precisely like the serial television of which it is born, The Selection is easily digestible; the kind of book that’s easy to pick up and devour in a single, breathless sitting. Don't let the reality TV show comparisons put you off, though: The Selection, while light, has heart—not to mention a lack of bitchiness—these insipid shows lack. But it’s also a book which will delight or disappoint depending on expectations. Is it truly dystopian? Not really. Is it as intense as the cover suggests? No. What it is, is simple: light, fun, compelling and compulsively readable.

An enormous thank you to Harper Collins Australia for providing a review copy of The Selection

53 comments:

  1. I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed this book, Sarah. I've heard nothing but terrible things about it which is sad because I adore the cover . . . so it's good to see these rare positive reviews popping up now and then. Great review by the way! Eager to read it now!

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    1. I was the same. I'd seen ONE other positive review before I read it... I was a bit worried. But I really, REALLY liked it. It was just... so fun. Thanks, Erin!

      Delete
  2. Ah, I'm so excited to read this! Unlike Erin over there, I've only seen good reviews around! ;) Can't wait to sink my teeth into this romance. Wonder what I'll think... Should be interesting! Shame it isn't as dystopian-y as it sounds but I think I'll enjoy it anyway! Great review!

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    1. You knwo, I didn't actually miss the dytopian! I just worry that people expecting dystopian will be dissapointed? it's an immensely fun book. Light, sometimes fluffy, but fun :D
      Hope you like, Lisa! ♥

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a cute read! I think it would make a nice summer/beach/by the pool type of book. I don't know if it's QUITE my thing or not, but I'm really glad that you enjoyed it. And the prince sounds pretty awesome.

    -lauren

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    1. It's a SERIOUSLY fun read. Light and entertaining, and YES! It'd be a great summer read ;)

      Delete
  4. sounds fun and a fun light read
    why a pink cover
    whyyyyyy/ its its its pink

    aahhh/ this dude is melting

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    1. RIIIIGHT? I'm not a fan of the pink--I like the original, but seriously, it's such a fun book :D

      Delete
    2. I don't know - I kinda like the contrast between the blue and the pink! I think it definitely adds an extra 'girly' vibe (as if the boufy ball-gown dress hadn't clued you in already). I do think it's fascinating how what works for one person on a cover completely alienates another - and a third won't care either way!

      Delete
    3. It DEFINITELY ups the girly factor... don't get me wrong--I still think it's pretty, but I thought it was GORGEOUS before :D

      Delete
  5. Great review! I've been avoiding this book because of all the mixed opinions on it. People who hate it HATE it it's intimidating haha. It does sound like an addictive read though a lot of people are saying that in their reviews. It definitely sounds intriguing and i'm sure I'll try it eventually. I can't say no to any dystopia :)

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    1. VERY true... and after the whole... thing... I was really worried about reading and reviewing... I did really enjoy it, though :)

      Delete
  6. Fantastic review!! Everyone is going cray-cray over this book after an American network bought the rights. I don't think they picked up the pilot BUT it's still generating a lot of buzz.

    It's on my list, of course! And now I am super excited to read it!!

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    1. *hugs*
      The cover! The cover! I go crazy for the cover :P

      Yeah, I heard the CW are having them re-shoot? Shall see. I can lend you my copy next week, if you like xx

      Delete
  7. Great review Sarah! I really enjoyed The Selection and I can't wait for the next book :)

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  8. THANK YOU. I knew I couldn't be the only one to feel this way. And YOU DESCRIBE THIS BOOK SO WONDERFULLY. To the point where I find myself wanting to reread the book. It's compulsive, light, and romantic all with a girly factor to it. And thanks for mentioning my review <33

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    1. YESSSS! Asher, seriously, I just couldn't put it down. I DEVOURED IT. I DREAMT about it... and... EEEEEEE! Also: your review = perfection :)

      Delete
  9. I really don't see what favours labelling this book as a "dystopian" have done anyone. Everyone I know that's read it seems to find it AT MOST a very light dystopian and I can see where people that were misled were then disappointed.

    Oh well :) At least you liked it! I think this book sounds like the most fun and romantic thing... I can't wait to read it! And OHHHH, you have me swooning for Prince Maxon already <3

    How are you able to do this to me? *gives suspicious look* Are there some weird sort of potions that you Australians douse your reviews with? Something that makes me WANT so badly?

    Sonia

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    1. AGREED. I mean... though... it's kind of hard to categorise this one. Dystopian isn't right, but I guess publishers need to categorise, and the closest label it'd fit under is dystopian, but it's just... yeah. Kind of not?

      Delete
  10. I've only heard terrible things about this book and the author but it's good that you were able to put that aside and find some positive aspects!

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    1. Ugh, Mandee, YES.
      I've been SO torn. Honestly, the book is light and silly and fun, and... it has a certain amount of heart that it keeps it from being laughable... I REALLY enjoyed it... but the whole situation, and the girl involved, who I ADORE... yeah. Honestly, for that reason, this was a bloody hard review to write :(

      Delete
  11. Really enjoyed your review, I wanted this one because I'm a cover whore LOL but was determined not to support the unprofessional behaviour of agent and author ... disappointing for me but I'm so glad you liked it :)

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    1. I KNOW. THE COVER. RIGHT?

      I agree with you, Teddy... I was really torn writing this review, but *I* really enjoyed the book, the whole drama aside. I love and admire and respect the blogger immensely, and I actually agree with her review in many aspects. Such a shame about the author/agent behaviour :(

      Delete
  12. Sort of dystopian? LOL you're so funny sometimes (all the time), Sarah!!! x) I've wanted to read this book for the longest time but my copy got lost in the mail (boo) but I think I should be getting another copy from the library soon (yay?), and I can't wait! I've heard so many mixed things about this book and I guess it's kind of understandable, but I love seeing shining positivity in the mountain, especially coming from your beautiful words! :)

    Looooooove your review, Sarah-bara! I want to meet the non-stuffy, non-boring Prince Maxon ASAP! ;) <3

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    1. Awww, Mimi!!!! ♥
      Thanks for your comment. Ha! It's seriously hard to describe! Like, dystopian, but the focus isn't on the dystopian?

      Agreed with the mixed reviews. I don't think it'll appeal to everyone. But it *is* fun :)

      Delete
  13. Thanks for the review! Sometimes you just need something light and easy to read and fun, and I now know what to pick up next time I'm feeling that. xo

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  14. Im glad that you enjoyed this Sarah. The reason I kind of avoided this book is because of the "Bad Author behavior issue of Kiera Cass and her agent." but set that aside- it does sounds like an enjoyable read. especially reading your fab review! Thanks for sharing your amazing thoughts! x

    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴ƷFICBOOKREVIEWSƸ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

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    1. Agreed... it was really hard writing this review with that in mind, and everything's that's happened the last week... I respect (and LOVE) the blogger involved immensely...

      Thanks so much, Lalaine! xx

      Delete
  15. I'm so glad someone else loved it! I've only just reviewed this as well and you've completely nailed it. It's a compulsive read! I loved it!

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    1. YES! It was just so damn FUN. I couldn't get over how compulsively readable. INSANE.

      Delete
  16. You have such a great way of turning me around on books that I'd written off. I've only read bad reviews for this book but given that it's not meant to be a bleak dystopian book, it seems to be great for what it is.

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    1. Aw, thanks Lan! I truly don't think this one's for everyone, but I think it's partly missed expectations that are leading to so much dissapointment (though we know it's only one of the issues). It was a truly entertaining read, but definitely NOT bleak dystopian--and doesn't try to be :)

      Delete
  17. I have seen this around so often that I feel like I need to read it. But, as you menitoned, it is not action-y. I find books without action to lose my interest fast. I like the concept, I think it's interesting, but I am still 50/50 if it's for me.

    Awesome review as always.

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    1. It's... you know, it's never slow, and it's very short, but it's not about action. Far more about dresses and palace intrigue and gossip... more secrets than action. It'd be interesting to see what you think, if you do get to it :)

      Delete
  18. I'm SO glad to have read your review, because you seriously put my expectations in the RIGHT place for reading this. To put all the drama, false labelling and negative reviews I've read aside and focus on what this book DOES offer. And it's so FUN being swept up in that light, addictive kind of read that you find hours have past while you read and you hardly even noticed.

    I'm especially eager to meet Maxon and see if he too, will woo me over with his charming ways <3

    I LOVE YOUR REVIEW!

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    1. Brooooodiiiie, thank you!

      "it's so FUN being swept up in that light, addictive kind of read that you find hours have past while you read and you hardly even noticed."

      THIS. EXACTLY. It's exactly what it is, and the book really doesn't have huge pretensions about being something more. It's fun and entertaining, but I SO get it's not everyone's cup of tea :)

      And I seriously wonder who you'd like: Maxon or Aspen... I mean, neither's a bad boy, but one's a 'good' choice, and the other's more... yeah :D

      And, well, I know which way you usually go >:P

      Delete
    2. Hey! I don't ALWAYS fall sucker for the bad boy. I... there's.... wait. *runs to goodreads to look at past reads* Well, FOUR isn't... REALLY a 'bad boy'! And um... Patrick Darling! Now he's just darling. Finn Belestra! JACK! I FELL FOR JACK MORE THAN COLE!! AH HA! HA HAAA! Alex from Hunting Lila! BRAAAAAAAAAAMMM!! If he is not the sweestest, most gentlemanly zombie soldier boy you've ever met, who the bloody hell is? CRICKET BELL. ETIENNE ST. CLAIR. Alright, I'll probably stop now [/a little defensive]

      Ahem. But yes, there's nothing worse than when a book takes itself super seriously, but isn't... well, as grown up and straight-backed as it likes to think. I love when a book can just... be something fun and oh so smile-worthy!

      Delete
  19. I NEED to read this book soon!!! It sounds so amazing and the cover itself has already persuaded me to read it: isn't it just GORGEOUS? And I can't wait to swoon and gush all over Aspen and Prince Maxon - I adore love triangles hehe <3 They both sound so sweet and I bet I'll have a hard time deciding between the two! Thank you for the lovely review, Sarah, I want this book NOW :)

    By the way, thanks for following my blog! I'm now following yours too so I look forward to more posts from you x

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    1. It is so SOOOO fun, Beverly! The cover is GORGEOUS--especially the US one (without the pink). I really hope you enjoy it!

      Aw, and thank you! And not a problem at all--you have a fabulous blog! xx

      Delete
  20. Oh Sarah, I might just love you! I was completely put off this book but the whole competition aspect. I do not want to read about backstabbing, manipulative bitches vying for a Prince's attention. But this sounds more like it's focussed on the actual romance. Which... might actually be my cup of tea. Oooh! I may have to keep an eye out for it. Thanks for the awesome review!

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    1. Well, if it helps, I already kind of love you :P

      You know, there is seriously very very little backstabbing. There's ONE bitchy 'contestant', but NO-ONE likes her, and the bond and friendships that develop between the girls is lovely. Especially for America who's never really had friends before.

      I hope you like it if you read! xx

      Delete
  21. This book has had a ton of mixed reviews. I guess that this is one that I will have to try and find out for myself. Thank you for your informative review. It gives me a little hope for a book that I was originally really anxious for.

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    1. I so think you're right on that. I don't think it'll be everyone's cup of tea... but I think if you go into it with the right expectations--that you are SO not in for a bleak dystopian--you'll enjoy it more :)
      Hope you enjoy it! It's always more fun when you enjoy a book, than otherwise :)

      Delete
  22. "But it’s also book which will delight or disappoint depending on expectations." I don't mean to be a snob (I love and adore you!) but you missed an 'a' in this sentence. Just thought you would like to know.

    I've read a lot of mixed reviews (mostly negative ones) so I'm SO glad to hear you enjoyed it! I wasn't that interested when I first heard about The Selection and then the reviews put me off even more. Though after reading you gorgeous review, I wouldn't mind giving this book a try. But considering the amount of books on my shelf PLUS the books that I REALLY want to read I'm in no rush to pick this up. Let's just say that if I passed The Selection in the street, I originally would have ran in the opposite direction. But now, I might go say hi, maybe even ask her where she got her dress for. Maybe a shopping trip is in order?

    ;D

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    1. SNOB SNOB SNOB SNOB SNOB!
      *inwardly weeps at atrocious lack of spellchecking*

      AND OH MY GOODNESS.

      "Let's just say that if I passed The Selection in the street, I originally would have ran in the opposite direction. But now, I might go say hi, maybe even ask her where she got her dress for. Maybe a shopping trip is in order?"

      I DIED FROM THE LAUGHING OUT LOUD AT THIS.

      LET'S GO SHOPPING!

      Delete
  23. Lovely review, Sarah! There are so many mixed reviews out there. I haven't gotten the first few chapters yet and I'm not sure whether I like it or not. It's hard to like a gorgeous but poor character, because... well, personally if I were her, I would jump for a chance of improving my family's life! But maybe I'd warm up to her later. Hopefully! x)

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  24. Brilliant review, Sarah! You made a great point about this not really a typical dystopian book, and thinking it will be will lead to disappointment. I've read the first third or so of this book and it's definitely more of a guilty pleasure for me than anything of real substance. ;) I'm not too find of America yet but I'm hoping that will change once I've read the whole thing. I's so glad to see you enjoyed this! great review. :)

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  25. 35 competitors. whaaaaa!

    i don't know about this one. so many mixed reviews and not sure if it would be for me.

    but on the other hand, this is one fabulous review. thanks for sharing!

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  26. YES! I'm so glad you liked it! It's one of those that you cringe when reading the synopsis, but you are yet interested in it all the same....like, LIKE YA HAFTA KNOW.
    I just loved this one, call it my guilty pleasure. :)

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  27. I keep wanting to read this one, but then I have read mixed reviews. I know we like similar books so I may give this one a go. Your review gave me more insight.I thought it was dystopian but you say 'light' . I do like the cover and I didn't realise 35 competitors. I like the way you say Part the Bachelor Part Next Top Model. Gives me more of an idea:D:D

    Good one!!


    Michelle

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  28. I really enjoyed The Selection. It's definitely fun and compelling. And hellloooo, Ethan Peck as Prince Maxon? That's a really nice image to imagine within its 300-400 pages. :D

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