Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection by Kiera Cass
Reviewed by Dani with Steph’s commentary in maroon
Steph’s Rating: 4 stars Dani’s Rating: 4 stars Overall Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Dani’s Review:
Prior to reading The Selection, I wasn't sure what to expect. A friend had recommended it to me and, of course, I looked it up on Goodreads. That was when I discovered the whole "author scandal" involving this book. Apparently the author/editor had posted GOOD reviews of The Selection on Goodreads to gain more publicity. I'm not entirely sure if this is true, but most of the Goodreads population seems to think it is.

My conclusion after reading is that The Selection is a good book. It really was "The Hunger Games meets the Bachelor", as some reviews have called it, but it's not as bad as it sounds. There isn't any death and destruction like the Hunger Games and the starvation and poverty is less emphasized. America Singer lives in a post- fictional World War III America, 300 years in the future. Kiera Cass decided to pretend the U.S. had been taken over by China and renamed the American State of China. Then, the American State of China was taken over by Gregory Illea. Now, in America’s lifetime, the country has been renamed Illea. The dystopian element comes in in the appearance of an 8 caste system. America is in the 5th caste, "the highest of the low". Her caste is made up of artisans and she herself is a musician. Her family is no stranger to frugality and starvation.

The Selection is like the Bachelor because 35 girls throughout the country are "randomly" chosen out of tens of thousands. We don't know if it was really a random selection. The girls are vying for the heart of Prince Maxon and to become the queen. But in America's case, there is a catch...

America is in love with a caste 6 boy named Aspen. The 6th caste is the servant caste, slightly above the 7th caste because they indoors. The idea of a woman marrying down in this world was absurd. Now America is sent off to win the Prince's love, but she doesn't want it. I immensely enjoyed the characters' various personalities and quirks in this book. There wasn’t much imagery or description, but maybe that’s Kiera Cass’s writing style. Maybe she prefers storytelling over excess “fluff”. She created a fairytale love story with a light sprinkling of dystopia. I wished that the dystopia elements had been more emphasized so that we readers could better understand what the characters were going through. The dialogue and plot hooked me in right away, but my favorite aspect by far was the characters. There's the usual jealousy that follows competition, but America meets several wonderful companions. Since America is a musician, I wish her music was mentioned more! She is supposed to fall to music when she is upset, as the author said in the beginning, but we never read about her musical experiences! She only played violin ONE TIME and we never got to know the audience's reaction! That was a disappointment. I was hoping for some innovative song lyrics.

This is one of my favorite love triangles out of all the YA books I have read. Both boys have a relatively equal chance of becoming America’s boyfriend. Unlike many books, there wasn’t one boy on the “good side” and the other on the “bad side”. So, there wasn’t any good-bad bias. Although, I feel like I like Aspen more because he’s “devastatingly handsome”. ;)

All in all, I enjoyed his book. It wasn't perfect, but it kept you will satisfy your thirst to read a good book. After all, this is Kiera Cass’s YA DEBUT NOVEL. There are so many unanswered questions about the government and politics of this world, so hopefully the next book will answer my questions. Mrs. Cass has confirmed that America, Aspen, and Maxon will make their choices in the next book. The pace of this book wasn’t very fast, but I liked it. I got to experience every day of the month America spend in the palace with her. The Selection ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. We don't know who wins The Selection and becomes the "daughter of Illea". I will have to wait until spring 2013 to find out! Also, people liked this story so much that the CW DECIDED TO MAKE A TV SERIES OF IT. The pilot episode has been released, but the producers are thinking about creating a remake of it. One of my favorite actors when I was younger, William Mosely, who played Peter Pevensie in the Narnia movies, will be playing Aspen! Ethan Peck will be playing Maxon and Aimee Teegarden will be playing America.

Steph’s commentary:
I agree on the most part with Dani. It was a lot like Hunger Games meets the Bachelor type thing, but more Bachelor and less Hunger Games so far. I really don’t know which team I’m on, considering Maxon and Aspen. I like them both for different reasons, and they both look like prospective suitors to America, especially since Aspen has upped his caste to “Two”.

When I think back to this book, I feel like there actually wasn’t much going on besides a girl fight, but I like how Cass somehow makes this slice-of-life book seem interesting in its own way. Although, I would’ve been happier with a little bit more action in this book, especially since it is considered a “dystopia”. I feel like the worst thing that happened was America getting her dress ripped. Waiting for 2013 to come around...I will definitely be putting the sequel, “The Elite”, on my reading list.

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