HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
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The Selection (The Selection, Book 1) (The Selection Series) Kindle Edition
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"Cass's immensely readable debut novel is a less drastic Hunger Games, with elaborate fashion and trappings. The fast-paced action will have readers gasping for the upcoming sequel."--Booklist
"An engrossing tale reminiscent of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy and Ally Condie's Matched. Fairy-tale lovers will lose themselves in America's alternate reality and wish that the next glamorous sequel were waiting for them."--School Library Journal
"Reality T.V. meets dystopian fairy tale in Kiera Cass's delightful debut. Charming, captivating, and filled with just the right amount of swoon!"--Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of Paranormalcy --This text refers to the paperback edition.
From the Inside Flap
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.--Publishers Weekly --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File size : 1385 KB
- Print length : 338 pages
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Publisher : HarperCollinsChildren’sBooks (7 June 2012)
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B006KWAKDE
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: 31,650 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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America has been selected to compete against 34 other girls vying for the affections of Prince Maxon based upon the fact she's attractive. She doesn't want him, she's in love with Aspen, but her family needs the money so she applies anyway. That's the plot: 35 pretty girls are hateful to each other for the sake of winning the affections of an entitled, pretentious and borderline creepy prince who clearly has no respect or understanding of what a disgusting situation that even is:
“You are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest.” ---- get over yourself. If you didn't roll your eyeballs I don't even know what's wrong with you.
My biggest problem with this book is not the competition but rather America's obsession with prettiness and the fundamentally messed up portrayal of women hating on other women; I don't enjoy reading about it and I think it's totally unnecessary. This book could easily have had 35 girls rebel against the system and have each others backs and I'm certain it would have had a way bigger impact on me if it had done!
America is entirely hung up on people thinking she's pretty, but constantly comments on how unattractive, overweight or aged other women are - this even extends to her mother who she frequently judges! I abhor the way she flippantly discusses her mother to be perfectly honest. America also often complains that people comment on her looks, that she's sick of being called pretty, but speaks about her looks in the same way I imagine beautiful people do when they secretly love that they're beautiful because they're actually arrogant AND beautiful:
"Please don't call me gorgeous. First my mom, then May, now you. It's getting on my nerves." .....
"By the way Aspen was looking at me, I could tell I wasn't helping my "I'm not pretty" case."
If you want some more eyeball-rolling-worthy moments let me tell you this: America Singer is also a singer. I wonder how Keira Cass came up with her name? I just don't get it; I don't find that a clever move if it's meant to be. On top of this America thinks she's some sort of saint for lowering herself to the level of the commoners by indulging them with the pleasure of a conversation with her, despite the fact she's entirely dismissive of her maids initially and was once in their very shoes; she also complains about having been poor whilst evaluating the number of dresses she has that are not in keeping with "the latest fashion".
I wish this book had been a clever attempt to challenge shows like, "The Bachelor" which broadcast women fighting tooth and nail for a man who doesn't value them, pushing each other down in order to bring themselves up. I just despise the idea of a man getting to essentially choose his favourite woman from a group of adoring women who are willing to hurt each other to win; it's not a strong message and it's definitely not fun to read about. I thought that this might be what Cass was going to do initially, given that America makes it very clear from the off that she's not interested in him, but that sadly wasn't the case at all. I won't be continuing with the series, because God only knows how I would contend with four more books which required me to shelve my absolute disdain for America Singer, the singer. She's pretty, don't you know?
I'm quite late to the party reading The Selection, as it's quite a widely read YA book at the time of writing this review. However, I thought I'd share my experience all the same.
I love YA fantasy, but I'd say this is more quasi-fantasy because it really focuses more on the characters and the situation as opposed to the dystopian element. We know very little about America's world, but it seems she doesn't really know much either, so it's not so much of a worry to the reader. The "rebels" that attack the palace felt quite faceless, as did the founder of her world. But, I was happy to be swept up in her love life and character--she seems like a genuine girl and I cared about what happened to her, which is more than I can say about some YA books I've read.
That being said, I felt a little cheated that the book ended where it did. There's a definite requirement to purchase the second book to find out what happens, which is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. If you've read my other reviews you'll know I love stand alone books, so if you're looking for similar, look elsewhere!
Why only a 3.5? Primarily the lack of world building, which distracted from the plot.
It’s set in future North America, following a Chinese invasion and World War 4, in a relatively new country. So why introduce an archaic monarchy into a brave new world? There is mention of the founder marrying into a Royal family, but WHICH Royal family? (I write this as a Brit well used to Royals!). Furthermore it's a well-loved Royal family despite the fact that their starving people are being executed (adults) and beaten (kids) for stealing food.
They are attacked by rebels from the north (disorganised but harmless) and south (dangerous) who regularly breach the palace walls, ransack rooms, and seem to be ‘searching’ for something. That’s it. Everyone hides. We never see them. End of, until the next attack.
Which leads to the caste system. Good scope for drama/tension here but, nope. Don't get that either. It's not entrenched through a long history, so why introduce it in a new country? Cass goes with the Divergent structure - the protagonist, America, is from an artistic family and therefore a 5. Her brother wants to play soccer, not the piano, but he's not allowed. Er, why not? Irritatingly, this system is not explained satisfactorily.
To me this story would have been so much better as a fantasy/fairytale, which would have made more sense than the attempt at a dystopian society. I couldn't get a clear picture of the world. They have planes, cars, and telephones but not one mention of an electronic device, from a smartphone to a laptop. Why not? The Royals live in a grand palace to rival any ancient European monarchy, which I assume was built after the new country was formed, but as they don't have any history books it's hard to know why - there are hints that this will become clearer in book 2, but I needed more info earlier on.
I liked all the characters to a point. They're all nice enough...that's it....nice, which means I'm not enjoying the love triangle as I don't want to see either of the guys hurt. Not enough detail to fall in love with them.
Overall 'Mer' is a good protagonist, but I didn't like how she constantly puts all the other girls down, as though she were the only one with any decency and spunk (she stood up to the prince, didn't want her image changed in the makeover, and didn't flinch in the face of rebel attacks). I was disappointed her music barely came into it - I can't believe a musician would ignore all those beautiful instruments in her room to play cards and read all day. I was waiting for the others to be mesmerised by her beautiful voice and piano floating down the hallways. It was disappointing not to see any competitive events between the girls or details about their behaviour at parties or the like, and the cameras were only occasionally mentioned – the main focus is on America’s inner ramblings.
I really hated Maxon’s use of the term 'dear' - it made him sound like a patronising fifty year old.
If you want a fairly gentle, compelling YA romance, this is for you. I’ve already purchased book 2 and am hoping to have a lot of questions answered. Be aware that each book ends on a cliff-hanger – and is priced a pound more than its predecessor!
I should admit that I am slightly (...) older than the target audience, but I loved the way the book made me feel like a teenager again. I laughed, cried and experienced crippling secondhand embarrassment. I had definite favourites and, as I read through the series, I realised that the characters were not stereotypically 'good' or 'bad' but flawed human beings who sometimes made epic mistakes and had to deal with the consequences.
I give the entire series five stars and highly recommend it for young adults and the young at heart.