by Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Published: April 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Format Acquired: Paperback from Fullybooked
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
First things first! I think it's highly unfair for this book to be shelved under 'dystopia' in Goodreads. It's misleading, people. I can't blame them though. This book does sound like a dystopian novel. It's set post Fourth World War in a new country called Illea where USA and Canada used to be. They have a monarchy and a caste system in place. Everything about it appears dystopian but it really isn't. The focus of the story is, surprise surprise (or not, if you don't get sarcasm), The Selection. So actually this should be shelved under YA romance. Kiera herself said in a blogger forum during her visit here that she never intended the book to be a dystopia. She needed a way for the caste system to work and everything that came with it so she had to create this entirely new world of Illea. It's a fantasy or a fairy tale more than anything else.
At first the only reason why I wanted to rate The Selection three stars is how confusing the world was to me. I was so bothered by how people labeled it as a dystopia when it didn't appear that way. But after much thought (and Kiera answering my question) I realized it really is one heck of an entertaining book. Yes, it had elements of a dystopia but at the core of it all what is the book really about? It's about love and choices. And that's exactly what I came to love about this book.
It's amazing how at the onset I really didn't care about America and who she chooses (or who Maxon chooses but we'll get to that later). However with every chapter I learned to appreciate the characters. I cared about them. Okay maybe I didn't care about Aspen as much as Maxon (Team Maxon for realz!) but the point is they grew on me. Even the minor characters like America's sister May and fellow contestant Marlee had an effect on me. I think a book goes up a level on the awesomeness meter when you're able to fall in love with characters you previously didn't feel much for.
I especially liked America's characterization. She's rough around the edges, acting like a badass, initially shunning the idea of The Selection and hating on Prince Maxon. I liked how driven she was in trying to create a better life for her and for her family. She went from being slightly deprived to having anything she wanted while part of The Selection. And that sudden shift caused her to reconsider her stand on the whole competition. Her gradual transformation was only understandable. America's a strong character overall. Love!
Speaking of love (well that went smoothly....not), while I usually dislike love triangles, the whole America, Maxon and Aspen hullabaloo (HA! I spelled it right the first time) didn't bother me at all. Main reason for that is, duh, it's a love story. It's essential to the plot...unlike some other books like Twilight. *coughs* So yeah, it was believable. You can see the stark contrast between both guys by how intense their moments with America were. Aside from the obvious difference in social classes, Aspen and Maxon were different kinds of romantic. Maxon's naive because of his upbringing so he appeared to be dorky but in a very adorable way. Aspen on the other hand is more intense and passionate. Although I didn't really feel or see what made Aspen and America's connection special, I totally understood why it was hard for her to let go of him even if she was starting to have feelings for Maxon. The story can go either way and I both hate and love how unpredictable it is. Will America choose Aspen in the end? Or will she fight for Maxon's heart? Stressful, I tell ya'.
I still have a hard time trying to picture Illea and everything in it so I couldn't give it a five star rating. But as far as characterization and plot go, The Selection got it covered. Highly enjoyable and full of feels!
P.S. I would freak out if America doesn't become The One. I would do despicable things to the books.