Monday, June 24, 2013

REVIEW: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass Website Twitter
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Pages: 327
Buy It! amazon
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

First Thoughts: Way better than I originally expected! I was looking for a fluffy romance, and instead,  found a dystopian world filled with politics, love, and survival all packaged into a quick-paced read.

As some of you know, I am a full-fledged dystopian junkie. If there is anything about a broken down, futuristic society in the book, I am going to be immediately drawn to it. I keep trying to break out into different types of genres, but I am continually pulled back into my dystopian obsession. When I started The Selection, I had no idea I would be feeding into my love for all things dystopian.

Right away, I was hooked into the society the author, Kiera Cass, created. The caste system in place touched on the similarities and differences in all of humanity. It may be a young adult romance, but it really makes the reader question how society works. Why are some people wealthier than others? How come working yourself to the bone doesn’t always guarantee a happy life? Are we all ignorant to the plight of others, as so many characters in the book are? I couldn’t help but hope that the young Prince Maxon would be able to fix the suffering of his people. But in that hope, I had to question, can anyone ever stop all of the suffering? I’m glad Cass forced these questions upon her readers because these questions are at the heart of every society, fictional or not.

Although this novel was somewhat typical in that it was set in the future, in a society with broken ideals, centering around a love triangle; there was something truly atypical in my normal reader’s reaction. In these love triangle stories, I tend to sympathize with Boy #1 - the original love. Boy #1 is usually the boy next door; the relatable, down-to-earth boy all girls idolize. Boy #2 tends to come in and steal the girl away - even though he doesn’t know about Boy #1 - in some unfair fashion. In The Selection, I couldn’t help but cheer for Maxon - Boy #2. Although Aspen (Boy #1) met all of the boy-next-door, underdog qualities, I just couldn’t root for him. He came off as macho and needy, whereas Maxon only wanted to make America happy. He was a friend when she had no one; he was a confidante when she needed to cry; he was willing to forgive even when his anger was more than warranted. Aspen, on the other-hand, did nothing but upset America. This character change from the usual young adult format really helped make this book more than just something I read; it made it into a book I surprisingly, really enjoyed.

One aspect of this book that I didn’t really enjoy, was the all too obvious connection to the reality television show, The Bachelor. Even with my hours spent on trashy tv and celebrity gossip websites, I have never been drawn to that show. The idea that finding love can be done by bringing 32 girls under one roof, spending time together and alone with them, has always seemed ludicrous to me. I think that’s why I was originally so hesitant to read this novel. I saw reviews and recommendations all over twitter and the internet, but I just couldn’t get past how Bachelory it seemed. I think Cass understands the ridiculousness of the popularity of the show. She builds her story around the concept but uses her characters to send her message. Maxon, the bachelor himself, doesn’t even buy into the process.

Final Thoughts: Not only was I surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, but even though I am trying to get out of m trilogy-reading routine, I immediately put the second book in the series - The Elite - on hold at the library.

Who Should Read It? If you are looking for a dystopian book built more on characters than action, this book is for you. I hate to stereotype, but it is definitely more of a girl book due to the focus on the main love triangle. Ladies, get ready to fall for and cheer on Maxon as he tries to win over America’s heart!

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