Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: The Selection (Kiera Cass)

The Selection (The Selection, #1)
Title: The Selection
Series: The Selection, Book 1
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Romance
Told: First Person (America), Past Tense
Content Rating: Teen (sensuality, some violence, scary situations)
Format Read: ARC
Find On: Goodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository

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.

*          *          *

Cover: So beautiful - definitely one of my favorites. I could stare at it all day. *pets*

Writing: Easy, breezy, refreshing; a quick read. Like really good writing should be (in my opinion, anyway), the prose was almost unnoticeable, so much so that I forgot I was even reading because I got so lost in the story.

Setting: How IllĂ©a came to be in this dystopian future was murky, but it appeared to be a collection of the U.S., Mexico, Canada, and a few other nearby islands. The book mainly sticks to two locations: America's home, and the capital/palace, where the royal family lives. I wasn't sure where exactly these were located, but it wasn't important to the story. Technology is not prevalent, with phones and computers scarce and only "public access" (aka propaganda) television available free to all.

The country is structured on a rather imprudent caste system - there are eight levels, One being the highest (royalty) and Seven being the lowest, with Eight being the outcasts. Each level has its own field of expertise, and you must find work within your level - even if you have no talent for it. For example, America is a Five, which means she must be an "artist." Luckily she has a passion for music, but her little brother has no affinity for the arts at all. His talents lie in sports and science, but because he is a Five he has no choice but to find work in the arts - or eventually starve. Aspen is a Six, which means he must be a "servant," even though he's much smarter and could do so much better for himself and his family if only he was allowed to. But outside of a miracle, or a lot of money, it's impossible to climb your way up the castes to get yourself a better life, no matter how talented - or untalented - you are in your caste. The history behind how the castes came to be is unclear, but they are at the forefront of the story as they dictate how everyone lives - and loves.

Story: The story is as simple as "if Prince Harry did The Bachelor in a caste-dominated dystopian future." And it even follows like a reality show - we open on America in her normal life and follow her through the selection process, all the steps that lead to the palace, and then all the rituals and tests that come there. But don't be fooled by it's simplicity - the pacing is perfectly balanced with interaction and reaction, and like a good reality show all the "boring bits" are edited out to maximize the story's full potential. I will say there isn't a lot of action - this is most certainly a romance - but it's definitely not your typical YA romance.

Characters: Where most YA characters begin awkward and out of place in their current situation, America is the opposite - she is right at home with her family, life, even her caste. But she isn't afraid to give all that up for the one she loves (Aspen), preparing herself for the inevitable changes instead of bemoaning her fate. It isn't until she becomes a part of the Selection that she finds herself out of her element, and depth - where a normal YA character would discover where they truly belong, America again finds the opposite. But she shows great strength of character and heart as she tries to make a place for herself in her new situation, while still maintaining who she truly is. One cannot help but love America - she's brave, compassionate, a fierce friend, and highly realistic and relatable. 

For the boys, I found Aspen prideful and untrustworthy and didn't like him much. I celebrated when he was out of the picture and wasn't happy when he returned. Prince Maxon is sweet and gentle and regal and a boy I could definitely fall for - needless to say, I'm completely Team Maxon.

Relationships: Most YA books see romance being an immediate and overpowering occurrence, but America's passion for Aspen was built over several years, and her connection with Maxon begins first as a friendship before blossoming into something more with time (aka my favorite kind of love). I haven't read such realistic relationships in quite a while, and I became highly invested in both of them. 

The Reviews: I do know about the kerfuffle last year involving the author and her agent (or was it her editor?) lambasting a reviewer on Goodreads for giving this book a bad review, and how several fellow reviewers refuse to read this book because of it. While I do totally believe the author shouldn't have gone there, my motto with all my entertainment is: "You can like the product, but you don't have to like the person who made it." Everyone is human - don't miss out on a good book just because the author made a human mistake.

Conclusion: This is one hundred percent my kind of book - easy writing, light romance, and a main character with a backbone and a heart that doesn't immediately fall for the first person she sees. I will be re-reading this one again and again whenever I need a reminder of what good fiction is to me. Highly recommended.

Scribble Rating
5 of 5 Scribbles


  1. I like what you had to say about the relationships in this one! Sounds like it would be a lot of fun to read as well! I almost bought it once, but didn't and now I think I should have!

  2. I was originally put off from this book (I can't really put my finger on why), but I think I'll have to pick it up since you enjoyed it so much.

  3. I enjoyed this book as well. It wasn't a difficult read, which I enjoy a challenge, but still, I enjoyed the relationships. I'm hoping there will be more action in The Elite, though. Great review!

  4. I fully agree with "You can like the product, but you don't have to like the person who made it." This was exactly how I felt when I heard what was going on. Great Review!


  6. I agree with you on the cover - it's probably one of the best covers I've ever seen. And completely agree about the writer/agent thing - although I read it right around the time that was all happening, and it was hard to forget. All of that aside, I enjoyed this book but didn't love it. It was fun to read but I personally didn't like the Bachelor-ish aspect of it...