The Selection Discussion
Title: The Selection
Series: The Selection, Book 1
Author: Kiera Cass
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Hunger Games meets The Bachelor—I know it should super lame and cheesy. But, I was almost immediately got sucked into this story. The author wrote this book after she thought about the differences in Ester and Cinderella, wondered whether or not they ended up happy.
Teen girls who love a little romance in their YA books, and those who dream of their Prince Charming, fans of Matched by Ally Condie will enjoy this book (I enjoyed it more than Matched)
America Singer lives in a futuristic time after the fourth World War. The United States, Canada, Mexico, and many of the smaller Latin countries are now make up a single country called Illéa. The country is run by a monarchy, and its citizens are separated into eight castes. Each caste has a specific role they must play in society. Here is a break-down of the castes from the author’s website.
· Ones: Royalty, clergy Maxon’s Caste
· Twos: All celebrities such as MTV-type musicians, professional athletes, actors, models; politicians as well as all officers in any policing, military, firefighting, or guarding position which are assigned by draft.
· Threes: Educators of any kind, philosophers, inventors, writers, scientists of any kind, doctors, veterinarians, dentists, architects, librarians, all engineers, therapists or psychologist, film directors, music producers, lawyers.
· Fours: Farm owners, jewelers, real estate agents, insurance brokers, head chefs, project managers for construction, property/business owners for things like restaurants, shops, and hotels. Marlee’s Caste
· Fives: Classically trained musicians and singers, all artists, live theatre actors, dancers, circus performers of any kind. America’s Caste
· Sixes: Secretaries, wait staff, housekeepers, seamstresses, store clerks, cooks, and drivers. Aspen’s Caste
· Sevens: Gardeners, construction workers, farm hands, gutter or pool cleaners, almost all outdoor workers.
· Eights: Mentally or physically unwell (particularly if there is no one to care for them), addicts, runaways, homeless.
It’s an exciting time for the people of Illéa; Prince Maxon is of age and soon will be picking a wife. In Illéa the prince’s method of choosing a bride is a little different than most other countries. One girl from each of the 35 provinces will be randomly selected to go live in the palace. Each of the 35 girls will compete for Prince Maxon’s heart, but only one—the winner of the Selection will become Queen of Illéa.
America Singer, a Five, has been pestered into entering the Selection by her mom and secret boyfriend, Aspen. America knows there is little chance that her name will be picked out of the lottery to be in the Selection. The night before the Selection announcement, America and Aspen get into a huge fight and break up. When America is chosen to be a part of the Selection, she is eager to get away from her province, Carolina, and clear her head. She has no plans to become queen or be Prince Maxon’s wife, but the time away from Carolina seems like a good way for her to get over her break-up.
Maxon immediately falls for America. She is, mostly, honest with him and tells him that she is not ready for a relationship. America agrees to be his eyes and ears with the other girls, if he swears to let her stay in the palace as long as possible. Things grow complicated. Many of the other selected girls sense that America is Maxon’s favorite, and treat her poorly. America only has Marlee, a kind-hearted four from Kent, to rely on.
America starts to realize that her feelings for Maxon may be less platonic then she first guessed, and if that’s not complicated enough Aspen has received an assignment as a guard in the palace. Oh, and did I forget to mention there is two group of rebel that threaten to overthrow Illéa’s palace.
Let’s be honest, at first glance I just knew I was going to hate this book. It seems to me it was a mash-up of the Hunger Games and The Bachelor, but for some reason I couldn’t resist the beautiful cover, and finally picked up a copy. So glad I did. I devoured this book and its sequel over a 3-day weekend. Yes, it’s cheesy and a little predictable. No, I didn’t walk away from it with a better understanding of the human mind or how society works, but I enjoyed it immensely—and it’s okay to read for pure enjoyment.
I am absolutely in love with Maxon. I like America even though her lack of faith in herself is a wee bit frustrating. I love America and Marlee’s friendship. I even love hating Celeste—she’s a fantastically rude it-girl.
· I like the “realness” of America’s family. A nagging mom, a quietly supportive father, a boy-crazy preteen sister, and a little brother who doesn’t quite know what's going on. I also like that she has other siblings that don’t live with them. They are still a part of America’s heart even if they aren’t a part of her household.
· This book is very readable, which means it’s sometimes over simplified—I was okay with this, because I was reading this book for fun, not to gain a great understanding of society’s shortcomings.
· I really like Maxon; he’s innocent and honest. He seems honorable, noble, and compassionate all at the same time.
· I love, love, love America’s three maids: Anne, Mary, and Lucy. They are always hustling and bustling about. They remind me of a young version of Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Except Lucy isn’t sassy like Meriwether.
· Celeste, oh man! I hate this girl, but I love her character. Think back to a time in your life where that snobby know-it-all popular girl was mean to you. Think of every rude glare or snide remark she ever made to you… that, my friends, is Celeste. Kiera Cass perfectly created her for you to hate. But, she’s great fun to hate and that’s why she’s on my “likes”.
· Aspen. As soon as Aspen starts his little hissy fit over America preparing him dinner, I was so done with him. He’s too prideful and has a temper. America, honey, chose the prince. Maxon would be my choice even if he was the poor one.
· In one way I liked the simplicity of this book, but in another I don’t. The back history is randomly told in chunks and doesn't flow well with the storyline.
· Sylvia doesn’t have much of a personality, and where she lacks for a personality I fill in the blanks with Effie Trinket.