My Thoughts: When I first saw the cover of The Selection by Kiera Cass, I knew I wanted to read it. After all, I’m a cover girl. Then when I started reading the book, I absolutely felt like I was reading a fairy tale and I was pretty much sold within the first few pages. Friends, I can almost bet that this book will end up a favorite of mine for 2012. I loved it.
Why you should put The Selection on your wish list. NOW.
1. The Characters. I love them so much. So, so much. All of them — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- America. 16-year-old female protagonist. Madly in love with Aspen, but this is basically forbidden as he is a lower caste than America (a Five). America is strong and unselfish, as she is willing to possibly give up part of her dreams and wishes for the advancement of her family and their needs…but she is also impulsive and immature at times (like every other girl her age), acting out rashly toward Aspen with feelings of misplaced hurt and anger.
- Aspen. In love with America, and boy does he love her fiercely! (sigh sigh sigh…) Aspen is a Six, meaning he is part of the lowest social grouping in Illea. Their love affair is basically forbidden and if they are caught meeting after curfew, they would be in tons of trouble. Aspen is described as a handsome, dark-haired boy that wears jeans and old shirts. Love him!
- Prince Maxon. We all know what a prince is, and this one needs a wife. He is nothing that America expects him to be and he is everything that we know a prince to be. He is kind, patient, and witty. He is described as a handsome, light-haired, well-mannered boy that wears official royal attire and rules alongside his father. He is pretty much the opposite of Aspen. Love this one too!
2. The Story. Like I just said earlier, this book reads like a fairy tale – WHICH I LOVED – so if you’re a fan of classic fairy tales, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this one if you give it the chance. I don’t typically care for book comparisons, and I rarely compare books myself, so I wasn’t too thrilled with the blurb that circulated comparing this book to The Bachelor TV show and The Hunger Games. I have never watched The Bachelor, so I can’t comment on any similarities in that area. As far as The Hunger Games goes, the similarities are few if any (in my opinion). The Selection stands heavily and firmly on its own.
3. The Selection. All girls in Illea between the ages of 16-20 have the opportunity to submit themselves as entries in The Selection process to become the next Princess of Illea, wife of Prince Maxon. Nearly all of the girls in America’s province have submitted forms because even if they make it into the 35 selected, they are compensated…and all of the families are in dire need of financial assistance. Not only that, but making it as far as the 35 automatically elevates you to a higher social caste, which means greater financial opportunity and helps the family as well.
Some of the girls enter solely because of the monetary compensation and to be able to assist their families. Some of the girls enter because they want the crown. Some of the girls enter because they want to be Prince Maxon’s wife. The Selection process is supposed to weed out the ones that are there for the wrong reasons and find the one who would be the best wife for the Prince and the best royal for the province.
Even knowing how much it would help her family if she made it into The Selection, America still is not interested because she believes she has found her true love in Aspen. Eventually Aspen convinces America to enter, giving reason that he would never forgive himself if she had the opportunity to at least try to make life better for herself but never did because of him. America agrees to fill out the form and see what happens…after all, they certainly won’t pick her, right?
Well, America is indeed picked. Just before she leaves, she and Aspen have a huge argument and they part on bad terms. Aspen doesn’t get the chance to say some things he needs to say and America doesn’t give him the chance to talk…these mistakes set in motion events that will change both of their lives forever.
4. Love Triangle? Maybe, maybe not. People will have varying opinions of whether this qualifies or not. We know that America loves Aspen desperately, but when she left for the castle – she was angry with him. We then watch America learn that she just might be able to love this Prince and this lifestyle that she thought she despised. And OH MY GRACIOUS you just can’t even imagine what happens next!
Normally when there are two choices for a love interest, I can easily make my choice for a favorite. IN THIS CASE, I CANNOT! I honestly can say that I adore both Aspen and Prince Maxon. I desperately want America to end up with the both of them, but we all know that cannot happen, which brings me to…
5. The Ending. Left wide open! It isn’t a cliffhanger (thank goodness!) but The Selection process is not over yet. The ending is solid enough to keep readers literally hanging on until the next book is out so we can find out what is next for America, Aspen, Prince Maxon, and the war-torn country that he represents.
6. The Cover. No comment necessary as it is gorgeous and very Southern-looking.
I’m interested in the classification of this book as dystopian…I’ve seen it around. It certainly isn’t heavy on the dystopian, but there are a few (of what I would consider) dystopian characteristics: there is a definitive caste system in place. At first, the caste system is a little bit tricky to understand, but the more it is talked about, the easier it is to grasp. The castes are numbered (from One to Eight) with the lower numbers being the higher social status. In this society, it is better to be a One than an Eight… There are also some mandated rules that are punishable by law–things such as careers being specific to your caste and no sex until marriage…things like that. So while I don’t think I would necessarily call The Selection dystopian, there are some things about the government and the society that are reminiscent of a book in this genre.
Also, it is totally worth saying that America shows some awesome character development in using her position in The Selection process. She makes life better for lots of people with some of her words and some of her actions, and the more she began to do that, the more I liked her. Pardon the cliche, but it was as if she was becoming a “champion of the people” and there are so many places the author can take that in the next book…
You guys, this book absolutely blew me away. I wanted to hug it and dance around with it and sleep with it under my pillow so I could dream about it. I could not stop reading it! I felt like I had stepped right into a fairy tale and was living in the castle myself. I felt like I was walking the streets of Illea and experiencing the hunger and degradation of the people based on the caste system. I felt like I was watching The Selection take place from the inside, only I wasn’t competing. I literally loved every second of this reading experience…