The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Young adult fiction, dystopian, science fiction,
(Some Spoilers, but still worth reading,)
America Singer lives in a dystopian world where all people are classified by castes, with 1's having the most desirable vocations. 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 participate because the boy she loves wants her to go. Her mother wants her to go as well, so America allows her mother to "bribe" her into participating 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 future queen.
At first, America only wants to stay in the Selection 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. She will also have 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 as sophisticated as my usual taste in books, 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 three books, the author could easily have created one long book rather than leave the reader with a major cliffhanger. If this was a ploy to make more money, it worked. I'm on to the second book. I need closure!
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