Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 2012
Series: Book 1
Genre: Contemporary, Teen, Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5The Story: Illea’s prince and heir to the throne has come of age. This means one thing. Invitations are sent out to the event of the decade. His title demands that he have a wife by his side to rule and as a result, each of the households with eligible young women between the ages of sixteen and twenty are invited to send their daughters to the palace to participate in the events. For America Singer, that invitation is the worst thing to happen. She already has plans – plans that include marrying her sweetheart, Aspen; not even his being one degree beneath her socially is going to stop the determined redhead. But then… there is her mother. What is a girl to do?
From thirty-five girls, tradition and the rules of the land dictate that the handsome Prince Maxon must choose a bride. America assumes he is an arrogant royal who cares little for his subjects… but is he? America’s fiery beauty and honesty soon captures the young princes’ attentions but will she – and can she, sacrifice everything to make her family happy?
The Selection has just begun…
My Thoughts: Reading young adult or teen fiction is really not where my interest in books is – or so I thought. Recent years have found my bookshelf filling with more secular fiction, and among that, the subgenre of teen fiction. I don’t think I can say what drew me to read this one save for the cover art was probably what caught my eye (isn’t it captivating?). Then the story sounded intriguing. Touted as being another version of The Hunger Games, this revolves around a strong-willed female protagonist who lives by a set of rules in a world that separates the social classes. She works to help provide for her “Five” family but her one mistake may be falling in love with a “Six.” And, then she receives the royal invitation to take part in The Selection. Her mother is delighted. America isn’t, fighting off the idea of becoming one of “them.” Is it logical to accept… or will an acceptance break hearts?
Most of you probably know that I did read The Hunger Games earlier this year. I didn’t hate it but I also did not understand its draw. Just a mere twenty pages into The Selection, I was already far more enamored with this story than I was by Collins bestseller. Not only is the story more compelling but it also boasts a heroine who is passionate. Does she fall into some of the clichés of teenagers with an attitude? Absolutely! But at least, she takes action! (The more I think about it, the more I realize Katniss had the personality of a wooden pole. Sorry, fans.) America is far from perfect and is sometimes downright annoying but above all, at least she reacts. She cries and has fits of anger instead of nothing. What so drew me into this story is how it aspires to be one thing – a coming-of-age story but winds up being oh-so-much more. It is a mixture of a fairy-tale (a little bit Cinderella with a smidgeon of The Bachelor), an adventure (not in the usual method) and a futuristic drama. Some may be bothered that this takes place post-America as we know it after a war and takeover destroyed it. Although dystopian stories are not new to the world of fiction, this one isn’t just set in such a world it actually makes reference to the world “before.” We come to learn that holidays are no longer celebrated or aren’t in the way we know and love them. Though minor, such a theme may be “troubling” for some readers to read about USA in a past tense – as if someday, everything we are proud to be a part of, proud about in our heritage, could be wiped away.
Cass’ writing is rich in romantics and a love triangle that shouldn’t be such a dilemma. Like HG, this one involves a boy from home vs. the wealthy prince who could give her everything… but cannot buy her love. This one doesn’t use a battle of the heart so much as develop an endearing friendship between America and Maxon. Her internal struggle is not new but it seemed genuine given the material. Here we have a teenager who feels pressured by her mother into accepting something she doesn’t want. She had a choice to make: To do right by her family and pursue her own dreams while still honoring her parents or put on hold everything she knows to give wings to her mother’s dream. For anyone who had reservations about HG’s propensity to force teenagers to kill one another for their survival, I loved that this one wasn’t a dictator nation in the same sense. The Selection was by choice and though there are times when America alludes to it being wise to partake in events, the people have options. That was perhaps the best thing about this book.
In Summary: An exquisite fairytale that will delight teen readers who are fans of fairytale re-tellings that though not flawless leaves us breathless for the sequel, The Elite coming early in 2013.