Title: The Selection (The Selection #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: dystopia, fantasy, romance
Publication Date: 1st June 2012
Rating: 2 stars
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…
It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s love.
Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.
Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret — one which could throw the whole competition… and change her life forever.
From the blurb, The Selection sounds like a dystopian version of the show, The Bachelor. Thirty-five girls all attempting to snag the Prince and have their very own happily ever after – fairy tale style. Some token nice girls and a mean, conniving few just to scheme and mix it up a little. That’s the reason I have wanted to read this book for a very long time. It’s my guilty pleasure. I love the Bachelor. I’ve watched every episode from every season, every episode of the Bachelorette and all seasons of the somewhat ridiculous spin-off Bachelor Pad. It’s a secret of mine that I tape every episode and then curl up in front of the TV and watch the drama unfold.
And whilst this book was just like a season of my beloved show with a few small dystopian elements thrown in for good measure, it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. I feel a little contrary for saying this but it was exactly what I expected and that’s why I was disappointed. I wanted more. More twists, more of the dystopian world Cass created and more of the other girls who made up the Selection.
In terms of characters, America is a textbook Mary-Sue. She’s so beautiful, such an amazing singer, so brave and (despite a slightly aggressive meet-cute with Maxim) is practically perfect in every way. Even her name. America, it felt to me like Cass was trying too hard to make us love America – to dislike her would almost be unpatriotic. But as a person, America didn’t always make sense to me. She’s so giving and generous to her family and yet she jumps at the first chance she has to take half of her income away from them despite telling us often that they are next to starvation. It felt a little hypocritical considering some of the things she says about her brother. I think I would have found her to be a more likeable character had she had more insight to her own behaviour and motives towards others. She’s just a little too perfect and lacks a certain depth.
The rest of the girls who make the Selection for Maxim to choose his future bride are an interesting lot – Marlee is as sweet as Celeste is ambitious. I liked the mix of girls included but would have liked to have seen more of them and their interactions with Maxim. Whilst this book is told in the first person narrative from America’s perspective, it would have been interesting to have seen Maxim’s dates with others though stories being told by the girls to America. There’s not enough gossip!
The idea of the numbers representing ones station in society and the rewards/disadvantages that went along with ones number was a captivating concept. I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between America’s life as a 5 and then living in the lap of luxury.
Plot wise, this is a fairly predictable novel but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There’s a love triangle that’s only just getting started, beautiful gowns and a trio of maids that reminded me of a Disney Princess’ animal sidekicks in the most delightful way. Will I be reading The Elite (The Selection #2)? Absolutely. Whilst I may have had some issues with this first book in the series, I admit that I’m hooked to the drama, the cattiness and I can’t wait to see happen next in this not-quite-fairytale romance.
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