Before I started reading The Selection by Kiera Cass, a friend of mine related it to watching The Bachelor. Now, I have never (and will never) watch this horrible excuse for entertainment, but I must admit that I kind of liked the premise as it applied in this book. Maybe adding a dose of political intrigue would make “reality television” more palatable…or maybe it would make it even worse than it already is. Who knows? But the combination of a competition to win the heart of a prince and a “dystopian-lite” society at war was definitely enough to pique and keep my interest when it came to The Selection. The gorgeous cover didn’t hurt, either. (I am a sucker for pretty book cover.)
America Singer lives in the young nation of Illéa (made up of what used to be the countries of North America). The world she lives in is based on castes, and America’s status as a musician places her closer to the bottom than the top. Life is not always easy, but her love for Aspen, a young man in a caste lower than hers, gets her through the hard times and gives her some measure of hope for the future. That hope, however, is about to be tested by circumstances well beyond America’s control…
In Illéa, a monarchy reigns supreme, and it is time for the young Prince Maxon to choose a bride. But he does not choose from other royal families. No, Prince Maxon must choose a true daughter of Illéa, a “commoner” with ties to this young country…and he must make his choice a public spectacle. Thirty-five girls from around the country are selected to compete for the heart of the Prince—and a chance to one day be Queen. They will live in the palace for the duration of the Selection, their castes will be elevated, and their families will be well paid. For most girls, this would be the chance of a lifetime. But America Singer is not most girls…
America does not want to be a part of the Selection, but her family and even Aspen convince her to at least submit an application. After all, what are the odds that she’ll even be chosen? Well, as it turns out, pretty good. When America’s name is called for the Selection, her entire world changes. She becomes an instant celebrity (something she’s not exactly comfortable with), and she’s forced to leave her family and the only boy she’s ever loved…all to compete for the hand of a man she knows will never hold her heart.
But life in the palace isn’t exactly what America expected. Sure, it’s more glamorous and extravagant than anything she’s ever experienced—and the food is truly spectacular—but America is surprised by how quickly she adapts, makes friends, and even grows closer to Prince Maxon. She realizes that his life isn’t quite as easy as it is portrayed on television—what with invading rebels from the north and south, trying to keep a young country intact, war as a constant threat, and choosing a future wife in front of a national audience. No pressure there at all. Maybe America was too quick to judge Maxon as a poor-little-rich-boy who never had to work to survive. Maybe she could grow to love this young man who is becoming such a dear friend to her. And maybe events will unfold that throw Illéa, America, Maxon, the Selection, and everything else into even more of a tailspin.
The Selection is an excellent book for readers who like their dystopian literature with a heavy dose of romance, especially a juicy love triangle (or, in this case, whatever type of polygon has 30+ sides). Give this book to fans of Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy, and, yes, even Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.
I, for one, was more intrigued by the historical and political aspects of this book than I was the romance. (We can probably blame that political science degree that I’ve never really used.) I loved the lessons on the history of Illéa, and I hope to learn much more about how this young monarchy came about in the next book. Based on what little we learned about what led to the breakup of the United States in The Selection, I would say the events are entirely plausible, so I’m eager to see what the author does with the mysterious history of the U.S. and how it relates to Illéa’s current circumstances.
The next book in this series, The Elite, will be published sometime in 2013, and there’s not a lot of information available yet on the plot of this book, but I have no doubt that it will be just as gripping as The Selection.
In the meantime, you can find out more about this series and author Kiera Cass at http://www.kieracass.com/, or you can follow the author on Twitter @kieracass. FYI, according to the author’s webpage, The Selection is being turned into a TV show by the CW network. It won’t be out this fall, but it could be out as early as this coming spring. I don’t quite know how I feel about that, but I’ve got plenty of time to think about it.
If you’re still not convinced to give The Selection a try, check out this book trailer from HarperTeen, and enjoy!