The Selection by Kiera Cass
release date: April 24th, 2012
hardcover, 327 pages
intended audience: Young adult
series: The Selection, book 1
source: from publisher for honest review
description: 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 the palace and compete for the heart of the 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.
Review: Along with most of my fellow cover-obsessed YA readers, The Selection initially grabbed me with that completely gorgeous cover: the beautiful over-the-top dress is such a perfect eye-catching color, the crown worked into the title art, the hypnotic hall-of-mirrors effect. I was in love. I do have to admit though, the description did not grab me, and I was even more put out by the many reviews that I saw that compared this to the TV show, The Bachelor, which I am completely disgusted by. So needless to say, despite my adoration of the cover, I went in fully expecting to really not enjoy this one. I can't tell you how wrong I was. I loved this book.
There are so many surprising elements here; there are strong themes of family, friendship, loyalty, love and the unexpected turns that it takes. In the beginning, I was a little confused by the caste system. It was sprung on the reader without much explanation at first, and I wish a little more world building and set up had been included to show how the world has ended up this way. However, once I caught on, the story flew by. I wasn't sure I liked America in the beginning...it was made so clear how she wanted to help her family and what a struggle it was to be sure they were all fed, but then when her mother has to bribe her to join the The Selection by offering to let her keep half her work earnings for her own personal use instead of helping to feed the family, and she happily accepts---it kind of grated on my nerves. But other than that one instance, she really grew on me. She was determined to hold onto who she was, determined to push forth despite a shattered heart, she spoke her mind with bravery and heart. She stood up for those below her station and stood by those whom she had become friends with. Prince Maxon was also an amazing character, so admirable and surprising. I loved the friendship that grew between America and Maxon---it developed in such a perfect way, with complete honesty, mutual respect and just a great natural connection. He seemed to have such a great heart, and you just have to feel for his conflict between following his own heart and doing what he must for his kingdom.
There is a love triangle here, so a warning to those who dislike them! I, myself, don't mind them at all, and thought this one really had some great emotional conflict behind it. There were some amazingly romantic moments that took my breathe away. But I have to admit, I'm Team Maxon all the way. We'll see how that pans out in the upcoming books!
What I really feared about reading The Selection was the relationship between the other girls---the cattiness, the ugly competitiveness, and trashy actions that you see in shows like The Bachelor. I was so glad to realize there was almost none of this going on here (except from one particular character) and that the friendships that developed between America and some of the other girls were some of my favorite parts of the story.
Such a fun read, with a completely unexpected amount of emotion and depth. For those who have seen all the mixed reviews or, like me, hesitate to pick this up because you hate things like the Bachelor---I say, give this one a chance! You may end up loving it as much as I did!
Visit Kiera Cass's site: www.kieracass.com
Purchase The Selection at: Amazon • BN.com • BookDepository • Indiebound