Author: Kiera Cass
Rating: 4 Stars
Dates read: 27 Feb 18 – 01 Mar 18
Publication date: 26 Mar 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre(s): Young Adult; Dystopian
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.
*This is a relatively spoiler free review*
I downloaded this book as something to listen to when I was doing the washing up. I thought it would be mindless background noise, and that I would enjoy it enough to pay attention and finish it quickly. I found it to be incredibly addictive, fast paced, and ended up reading it within the space of 36hrs, which was pretty quick considering I was in work for a considerable portion of that time!
I don’t know how else to describe this YA dystopian novel other than thinking of The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor in a palace. Yep, how simultaneously brilliant and rubbish does that sound?! The book centres around the selection, a ‘random’ group of 16-20 yr old women who are ‘selected’ from the pool of girls that apply to be considered, from which the Prince selects his future wife, and Princess. Yes, it’s completely ridiculous, and yes, you can’t put it down.
Let’s talk girls. I’d like to think that girls aren’t always unbearable and bitchy, and that the thought process of the average late teen is not always whiny and irritating, but America Singer and the rest of the cohort do their best to try and convince me otherwise. Her thoughts border on mindnumbing, and although her intentions and love for her family are endearing, and her talents and want to succeed are admirable, she doesn’t half do my head in. Her friend Marlee is much more bearable, as is America when she is interacting with the minor characters in the story (her maids, the guards), and I really enjoy her scenes with Prince Maxon (largely due to him). Before I get onto other characters, and funny moments, can we stop and note her name. America (I mean really?) Singer (she is a singer/musician, how original).
No YA dystopian story would be complete without a love triangle, so, let’s meet the players. First we have the lower caste soul mate, the hardworking poor hunk, called Aspen (seriously, what is with these names). At the beginning of the book, these are presented as a couple, surreptitiously slipping away in the middle of the night to spend time with each and declaring their undying and eternal love. He insists she apply for the selection and low and behold, she’s selected and he isn’t so happy anymore. Secondly, we have Prince Maxon, the guy who she ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT WANT TO DATE OR WIN THE SELECTION TO MARRY but gets on with well, and who really likes her. They are complete opposites, with different qualities, and don’t always take her crap, which is good.
The side characters throughout the book are pretty awesome. There is the presenter (who reminds me of Caesar Flickerman), and there is the King who we know very little about but seems very Kingly (although there feels like there is something more?) The Queen is billed as beautiful, and perfect, and has risen through the castes and epitomises the success of The Selection. One of my favourites is Sylvia, who hustles the ladies from place to place, gives them their instructions, and generally just lords it over all the girls like she is the King herself. The maids are a lovely edition, they highlight the differences between the ladies and their attitudes to people, and her family are amazing too. The little we see of her father and her sister are delightful.
Right, so the story, well, they nominate themselves, 35 are selected ‘at random’ and they are made to live at the palace, sign away their lifestyles, and agree to some crazy stuff (that they won’t leave no matter what, that they are a virgin, that they will be punished by death for having an affair, y’know, that sort of thing). To be fair, they’re paid for their trouble (or their families are) so for some it is an amazing opportunity. They’re all separated to live in the palace, they have a makeover and are gifted a new wardrobe, and set of jewellery, and set of maids, and they trot off to do their bidding as they want. They fight, and bitch, and try to cause trouble for one another, and all have their own reasonings for trying to win ‘The Selection’ (the crown, familial pride, Prince Maxon himself).
It’s safe to say that everything doesn’t quite go to plan. Some people successfully get under the skin of others, some are wrongly dismissed and some are wrongly kept. Their are secrets, and awkward cringy moments. There are insurgents/rebels/general no-gooders, and of course, the surprising return of a character to no-one but the main character, and lots of other shenanigans carry on throughout to.
There some funny moments, and surprisingly there are some touching ones, and pretty much everything in between. This book has really gone so full circle rubbish that it’s almost good again!!