(I am finally getting back to reviewing dystopians I read last year before I started this blog…)
The Selection is the first of a trilogy that I would classify as young adult “light” dystopia. In it America Singer lives in Illéa (America in the future after Chinese takeover and such), a country where the only hope for a young girl to escape a low caste is a prosperous marriage. While America loves a boy a caste below her, she still enters The Selection, a chance to become the wife of Prince Maxon. It proves to be a competition reminiscent of today’s reality show The Bachelor, but also made me think of the back story we never got of the Biblical story of Esther. America must confront her past feelings for Aspen, her growing feelings for Maxon, and choose the life she wants to live.
This book gets a lot of hate, and I will admit, it has its issues. However, while reading, I found myself very caught up in the story. I have even read a decent portion of the book a second time, which is unusual considering the short time period I I’ve owned it.
The plot itself is interesting. I cannot get into most reality shows, especially ones like The Bachelor, but for some reason I still felt drawn to the premise of the story. Perhaps it seemed different because it was the tradition of the country, and also because of the royal element (I mean, who among us was not mesmerized by the royal wedding two years ago?).
I also loved Maxon. I thought he was sweet and such a gentleman, the way a prince should be. (However, after having read Cinder, I do believe I like Kai more, largely because he was more down-to-earth and less oblivious to the world around him.) I also liked America’s maids that tended to her; I think they may have had more personality than anyone else in the book. Though I am somewhat intrigued by the king and queen, especially the queen, and hope to learn more about them.
I enjoyed America and Maxon’s growing friendship/relationship and especially enjoyed their time together, but I felt it was slightly underdeveloped. At one point America refers to something from a conversation or conversations with Maxon that makes it seem like they have had a conversation or conversations that I completely missed. There was nothing to indicate unrecorded conversations between them, yet this reference felt like there was a missing link.
I don’t love Aspen, the boy from home America calls her first love. He’s OK, but together… he and America are that annoying couple that you never want to be around. I also don’t really love America either. Again, she’s just OK, she has her good qualities and her less favorable qualities, but honestly I found myself caring more about Maxon that her.
The “dystopia” nature of this book feels a bit light to me. There is a caste system in place that doesn’t really make much sense to me (there is a whole caste dedicated to artists, for instance, and they’re one of the lower castes), a history of the country that also sounds somewhat unlikely (but I cannot deny that if you explained someone from 200 years ago what the world would be like now it would be very hard for them to believe), and the threat of the rebels in the book take a backseat to the romance. I suppose I would not mind this latter point so much had the world building had been better developed in general.
I am hoping to see some better story development and character growth in the next two books. I am holding out on reading The Elite for as long as I can because I hear it’s frustrating, and I don’t want too large of a gap between it and the final book, The One. I’m also going to be frustrated if America chooses Aspen, not just because of me, but because I think about 95% of The Selection fans prefer Maxon to Aspen. There doesn’t seem to be much of a competition here.
One last pet peeve is that some of the names bother me. We have the usual future dystopia names mixed in with names like Amy, which just felt off to me. Also, America’s last name is Singer, and she’s a musician. Her first name is America, because she’s a fighter. There’s a girl whose last name is Farmer and she’s… you guessed it. Overall, the choices for the names felt a little shallow, but I do like Marlee and Maxon’s names.
I think The Selection had its flaws, but it was an entertaining read that kept me interested throughout. That’s why I’ve rated it 4 stars out of 5; I really liked it.
Language: None to mild – Unfortunately I cannot remember if there was any language in The Selection since I read it last year, but it was either sparse and mild or non-existent.
Sexual: Mild – All that happens is passionate kissing, but America desires more with Aspen, explaining to the readers that sex before marriage is forbidden by law. It is also suggested that the girls must do whatever Maxon wants, and America is convinced he is going to be try something sleazy, but he does not.
Violence: Very mild. There is mention of raids on the castle, but the description of the violence is mostly just a description of fear and chaos, and not bloodshed.
If you’ve read The Selection, what were your thoughts on it?