Author: Kiera Cass (author website)
Release Date: June 7th 2012 by Harper Collins Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian... Kind Of.
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.
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 ThoughtsSay 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.