The Selection by Kiera Cass

The SelectionThe Selection, 1Kiera CassYA RomanceHarperTeenApril 24, 2012Hardcover336

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.

The Selection, by Kiera Cass, is the first in a trilogy, as well the author’s enchanting debut. In a post-American world, the famous “selection” provides thirty-five girls, all from different economic circles (more like castes), with the opportunity to compete for the crown prince’s hand in marriage.

America, one of these thirty-five girls, is not excited to live in an unfriendly castle and leave behind her secret boyfriend, Aspen, despite the benefits to her family. When she finds that she unexpectedly enjoys Prince Maxon’s company, America begins to question what she wants for her future. But the rules of the Selection are strict, and will force her to decide quickly.

I found this book light and amusing but sometimes frustrating. While the political backdrop somewhat resembles that of The Hunger Games, the story is more similar to a teen version of “Bachelor.” There seems to be a trend toward marriage-market themed YA stories (The Registry by Shannon Stoker, The Season by Sarah MacLean, etc). It seems the more independent women are in real life, the more fiction reverts back to a time when women didn’t hold much power.

The second book, The Elite, is where things get a bit darker. I enjoyed the protagonist’s quest for individuality and romance in such an unforgiving environment and admired the prince and Aspen’s shared struggle to do the right thing.

The three characters are all relatable in one way or another, and while I didn’t always agree with their actions, I think readers will remain sympathetic to them throughout the story. I recommend this book for fans of romance and light dystopian fiction, especially if you can’t stomach the killing displayed in The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies.

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