Sep 04, 12
Read from August 15 to 16, 2012
Kiera Cass enters the world of dystopian young adult fiction with the first novel in a new series, The Selection. America Singer is convinced she is not queen material and has no chance of winning the heart and mind of Prince Maxon. Yet, when her true love abruptly ends their covert relationship, she enters the Selection as a chance to recover from her heartbreak away from the prying eyes of her family. Her shock upon discovering her selection is almost as great as it is when she discovers that Maxon is not the pompous, sniveling, protected prince she expects him to be. Their relationship is anything but straightforward, and as she learns more about the life of the future king of her country, the more complicated the relationship becomes. Sparks fly, sweetness ensues, and her life’s plans are now more nebulous than ever.
Multiple reviewers have described The Selection as a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. This is a bit misleading. While there are similarities between them all, The Selection is not quite as frivolous as one and not as harsh as the other. Ms. Cass manages to buck the trend of a bleak setting with no apparent hope and nothing but resentment among most of the poor citizens. Illea, the newly-created country of which America is a proud citizen, is nothing like Panem. Even the caste system which defines the country is not completely horrible for citizens do have methods of entering higher castes and earning more privileges. It is quite interesting to read about a dystopian society that really does not seem terrible, where the country’s leaders do honestly have the best interest of its citizens at the fore, and one that is explained as well as Illea is. Granted, there is more to Illea than meets the eye, and given everything that America, and subsequently the reader, learns about the country, the full truth will be quite interesting and hopefully surprising as well.
American Singer is a delightful heroine. Her willingness to speak her mind, genuine friendliness and caring, and decided lack of interest in anything glamorous or feminine is so refreshing. One cannot help but admire a girl willing to speak out for a pair of jeans and then who dons them with pleasure. She cares for her family but looks forward to a future on her own. She knows her place but is not afraid to question those in power or vocalize unfairness when asked. She does this without drawing the ire of others, and while her fellow Selected may find her a threat, readers will enjoy the fresh-faced sincerity and kindness that she exudes.
The Selection is an incredibly fast read, not requiring much in the way of philosophical thinking or close attention to details, but one cannot discount the fun and entertainment it provides readers. America may not be skilled at hunting, like Katniss, or willing to take risks, like Tris, but she still delights in her ability to be like an average girl. While one might consider a contest to find a wife trivial, the more serious undertones that creep into almost every page prevent the story from being complete fluff. Ms. Cass leaves her readers with one heck of a cliffhanger, which may upset some readers if not prepared for it, but given the admirable job she has done creating this unfamiliar world of America’s, one knows the wait for more answers will be worth it.