Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian
Series: The Selection #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Number of Pages: 327
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 the palace and compete for the heart of the 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. (goodreads)
I'll be honest. I didn't think I'd like this book as much as I did. I read this right after finishing Matched by Allie Condie and thought the themes were so similar that this would wind up being a dnf. I wanted to wait to read this one, but it was due back at the library the next day & I wasn't able to renew it. I'd had it forever, and the cover was calling me to the book so I decided to take a chance on it.
I'm really glad I took a chance on this one because it was a delight to read. I got halfway through it and realized that this author went a little crazy about a goodreads review awhile back, and that was the reason I hadn't read it when it first came out. When I realized that I wanted to stop reading it, but you know what? I was enjoying the Bachelor-eque theme of the book too much to stop.
America Singer and every girl her age is entered into a lottery in order to be the next wife of the Prince Maxon. While everyone else is thrilled about this, America isn't. Why? She's in love with Aspen, who is a cast below her. Their romance isn't exactly forbidden, but it's not really looked upon favorably either. America doesn't want to enter the lottery, but with pressure from her Mom & Aspen she does. She's of course chosen from her province to be their representative. She's one of 35 girls chosen, and doesn't think she'll make it very far, but once she finds out her family is compensated for her being there she gives it her best shot.
What I liked the most about this was the theme. I liked how her parents and siblings played a part in the book, and even though they pretty much disappeared when she went to compete in the Selection, they were still involved through letters. America won my heart over because she didn't hide the fact that she wasn't really happy to be there, and while she made friends she didn't whine over every single girl who didn't like her. When the mean girls struck out, she tried to do something about it. She was fun to cheer for. Prince Maxon was equally wonderfully. Here is someone who has everything, yet at the same time has as many restrictions as America does, only in different ways. I felt a little sorry for him, and loved how America wasn't afraid to be honest with him.
The world building was really some of the best I've seen. The last three YA Dystopian books I've read didn't go into detail into why society was the way it was and this one did. It explained the gradual changes that happened over time, and why there casts. I liked how there were rebels, and that they were active. I enjoyed the palace settings and that of where America was from. I felt like I was living there, and loved how there was no info dumping as is found in so many first books of a series.
I had only two faults with the book, and it's what kept me from giving it four stars. The first was the love triangle. I liked Aspen, and I LOVED Prince Maxon, but I really couldn't feel torn between the two as one is just there in the first 100 pages of the book and briefly later on. I know there was really no other way to do it with the setting the way it was, but I just felt no investment at all in one of part of the triangle. I felt it was just thrown in there to add shock value to the ending. The other part I had trouble with was that one storyline was almost completely forgotten by the end. In the beginning America promises Maxon information about the other girls, but I really never saw her do that except for the girl she liked and the one she didn't like. Maybe I missed something because I flew through the book so fast, but that part really bothered me for some reason.
All in all though, this was an enjoyable, fast read that was gritty and light at the same time. I can't wait to see what happens in book 2!