Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection, #1
Format: eARC, kindly provided
by the publishers via
NetGalley (Thank you!)
My rating: 2.5 / 5
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.
-- As seen on Goodreads
*I received an eARC from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This didn't influence my opinion in any way.*
I feel a very strange mix of emotions about The Selection: I sort of liked and hated it in equal measure. In honesty, I think The Selection and I will end up being best frenemies. On the one hand, my expectations for an entertaining story were met, yet there were quite a few things about said story that didn’t make any sense at all, and it became extremely frustrating to read. I can’t help feeling that this is a cute contemporary story being forced into a dystopian shell.
Despite some strange names, I thought both America and Maxon were decent characters. Maxon, despite some cringe-worthy dialogue, wasn’t the worst character in the book. He’s depicted as being shy and inexperienced around other people, particularly women. While the believability of these traits was questionable considering he’s next in line to the throne, comparing him to the other love interest, Aspen (and yes, there is a love-triangle), his characterisation is brilliant. I don’t really see any point to Aspen other than to introduce the caste system, add some make-out scenes and to provide extra drama. The book is written in the first person from America Singer’s perspective, and it did take me a long time to start liking her. My initial impressions weren’t favourable, but thankfully as the story progressed I ended up tolerating her silliness. It sort of became strangely endearing. Well, except when she began obsessing over Aspen. That was just pitiful.
My biggest surprise was how addicting the story was. I continually alternated between being entertained and being irritated, but I just HAD to keep reading. The selection itself is incredibly fun and entertaining, and I really enjoyed that part of the story for what it is – pure entertainment. But I do have a couple of problems, and they’re not very easy to overlook. I thought that both the world-building in general and any sort of descriptions were severely lacking. I never got a clear picture of what anything looked like to give any sense of scale or grandeur. Some random objects such as plush carpets, windows or vases aren’t enough, I want to visualise the Palace, the rooms, the grounds, the cities, the country… everything.
And this leads me onto my biggest problem with the book: HOW is The Selection a dystopian novel? Nothing we’re told makes any sense. Just because you have a caste system where some of the lower castes skip a meal or two, and the royal family has to deal with a few skirmishes with pissed off factions from the North and South… I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make a believable dystopian world to me. And speaking of the royal family, WHY did North America become a monarchy? Just because some random dude married into a distant royal family and liked the idea of monarchical rule, so he introduces the system to his own country? I don’t buy it. I also wish I could forget reading about China invading the U.S. over a debt. Like, seriously? I mean, repossessing a car makes sense, but repossessing a COUNTRY isn’t exactly practical. And once the debt collectors come back empty handed, the immediate conclusion the Chinese jumped to was INVADE FOR MORE LABOUR FORCES! Yeah… totally believable. Oh, and let’s not forget Russia. They wanted to stretch out a little since they have so little land to play with, and some bright spark had the brilliant idea to take over BOTH China and North America simultaneously?! I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t take any of this seriously. Nothing that happened in The Selection is remotely plausible, and that instantly eliminated any sense of ‘wow… what if this really happened.’ Sometimes vagueness is a kindness, and this is certainly a case where less information would have been more beneficial in the long run.
Time will tell whether I continue with the series, but I’m not sure I really need to. I mean, all I have to do is look at the titles and the covers of the next two books, and I’m pretty sure I know what will happen and how the ending will pan out. I’m torn on how to rate The Selection: I’m hovering between two and three stars, so I think I’ll settle on a two-point-five. The Bachelor part of the story was entertaining, but the lacklustre dystopian elements took so much of that entertainment away. I wish I had better things to say about the book as I know it’s a favourite for so many people, but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me as well as I’d hoped.