February 15, 2013

The Selection by Kiera Cass

I whipped my head back around, and there it was [on the television]. The picture of me just after I'd found out Aspen was saving up to marry me. I looked radiant, hopeful, beautiful. I looked like I was in love. And some idiot thought that love was for Prince Maxon
-from The Selection by Kiera Cass

Similar to The Hunger Games, The Selection uses a futuristic dystopian America to critique the flaws of American society today, most notably our obsession with voyeurism and reality television. While I know this specific critique is one of many, it's hard to resist comparing The Hunger Games to Survivor and similarly, The Selection to The Bachelor.

In the country of Illea, the prince chooses a wife by way of The Selection: a televised competition between 35 randomly selected young women spanning the eight social castes. The benefits of being chosen for The Selection are great: the selected get to live in the Illea Palace alongside the royal family, are trained to be royalty themselves, they are all courted by the prince and their families are handsomely rewarded with a check each week their daughters remain in the palace. Even the women who are dismissed and do not win the prince's hand in marriage gain an elevated social status in an otherwise immobile caste system. But for America Singer, none of that means anything in comparison to marrying Aspen, her secret love a caste below her. When America is chosen in The Selection it goes against everything she thinks she believes in. However, when Prince Maxon proves to be much more than she bargained for (in a good way), America finds herself torn between the different paths her future can take. The first in a series, I promise the ending will make you demand Kiera Cass give you her sequel, The Elite immediately since it doesn't come out until April (this review is my demand! Haha!)!!

I hate comparing every dystopian novel of this decade to The Hunger Games, but let's face it - most everyone is familiar with it enough as a comparison, whether they've read the series or not. I think that if THG was too graphic and gory for you, The Selection is a great, soft-and-sweet alternative. But that doesn't mean The Selection lacks depth. While romantic love is the engine that drives this story forward, Cass executes a love story without laying it on too thick or making it too unrelatably romantic. I was especially impressed that I was sucked into a love triangle when I'm so strongly opposed to buying into them. Let's just say The Vampire Diaries has nothing on Kiera Cass!

While there was a lot of love, there was also a fair share of commentary about deeper things, like America's current debt to China and the lack of funding in education systems. I really enjoyed the depth of background on this futuristic America Cass creates. I also liked that Cass wasn't afraid to make the Illean goverment impenetrable as we read about frequent attacks on the palace. I hope the sequel fleshes out the political struggle a little bit more so readers can learn more about the rebels and why they attack.

My only complaint might be the pedestal on which this book places finding love at such a young age; I mean, I'm 29 and I was obsessed with this love story like a lovestruck teenager (I read the book within 24-hours). I can only imagine the impact it would make on a romantically vulnerable 16 year old. However, I think this complaint is reconciled by the fact that America Singer isn't a damsel in distress: she's a strong, opinionated, compassionate and stubborn heroine that young girls can look to as a positive literary role model. I love the contrast between America and the other girls who try to change themselves depending on what Prince Maxon wants in a wife; America doesn't really change for anybody, yet she's not afraid of change on her own accord. I like that young adult authors are creating strong women, not afraid to love but also not afraid to be themselves.

Bottom Line: If you like dystopian young adult and you love romance, you have to read this! I highly recommend it in general to anyone who loves a good love story or even anyone who watches The Bachelor (I don't, for the record lol). 4.5/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. i love the lines you quote from the book. even though i don't get hooked by the hunger games, i'll read this book


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