The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(Some Spoilers, but still worth reading,)
America Singer lives in a dystopian world where all people are classified by castes. She is a 5 (on a scale of 1-8). The boy she is secretly in love with is a 6, and girls are not supposed to marry someone in a lower caste. When her name is chosen for the Selection, she only agrees to go because the boy she loves wants her to. Her mother wants her to go as well, so America allows her mother to "bribe" her into going although America had already told her love, Aspen, that she would go. America truly wants no part of the Selection.
The Selection is a competition, so to speak, in which 35 girls are chosen, one from each province in the country, to live at the palace and "date" Prince Maxon. This is how he will choose his wife and the future queen.
At first, America only wants to stay there because her family is getting benefits they would not get if she were sent home. She is only one of three 5's who was selected, but America easily develops a bond with Maxon. They are only friends, and he agrees to allow her to stay so that her family won't have to struggle so much and so she has some time away from home to get over her lost love.
She is his confidante; however, Maxon begins to develop deeper feelings for her. Can she forget Aspen, who broke up with her the day before she left for the Selection, and can she also be developing feelings for Maxon? Can she give up the luxurious lifestyle and exquisite food and return home to a normal life? And what happens when Aspen is drafted for service and becomes a guard at the palace pledging that he still loves her?
I see this as a cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor. The similarity to the Hunger Games lies in the type of society that exists in the book, castes, a central government that controls all aspects of life, and a contest. Those chosen for the selection are similar to the tributes who go to the Hunger Games. It is similar to the Bachelor because the Prince must get to know the Selected and choose his bride from this contest.
The book is interesting and contains vivid descriptions. It has a futuristic appeal as well as some suspense, war threats, romance, and a smidgen of comedy. While not quite sophisticated for my tastes, teenagers, especially girls, are the target audience, and I know many of my students will enjoy it.
I must end with a negative. I finished the first book today, and I feel cheated because there is no resolution to the conflict. Instead of creating four books, the author could easily have created one long book rather than leave the reader with a major cliffhanger. I believe this was a ploy to make more money, and it worked. I'm on to the second book. I need closure!
The Elite by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kierra Cass has me hooked! I forgive you for making four books. The Elite is the second in the Selection series. I liked the first book, and it left me hanging, but I actually took a break to read a different book before I dove into this one. The second one was even better! I couldn't put it down! I like Dystopian fiction, especially what I like to call the Original - The Giver. I enjoyed Hunger Games. Matched and Divergent were just okay. I'm not usually a fan of romantic fiction, but this series would be the exception, perhaps because it is also Dystopian. I see it as a cross between the Hunger Games and the TV show The Bachelor.
Or maybe, probably, Mrs. Cass has a way with writing. She stirs my emotions. I root for the characters I like, and I wish for harm to come to those I don't. Tee-hee! Prince Maxon must find a wife, a princess. Each of the provinces of Illea has sent a representative for the Selection, but now, only six remain, the Elite. Our protagonist is one of them, beyond all odds. She is a five; The Prince is a one. How could they have anything in common? And her previous boyfriend, a six, is now a guard at the castle and a two. America must decide who she loves and whether she can be a princess. She must come to grips with what she learns about Illea's founder, and with what she learns about the King. She must work alongside girls who are also in competition for the Prince's heart, and she must do so with grace and dignity, even as Rebels attack the castle to cause the Selection to end.
I won't tell you what happens, but there are many surprises along the way, and I am so engrossed in the story, that I have already begun reading the third in the series. Highly recommend!
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