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The Selection #1

The Selection

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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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published April 24, 2012

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About the author

Kiera Cass

56 books61.1k followers
100 Things I Love:

Being married. Cake. The smell of Autumn. Motherhood. Books. Elephants. Back rubs. On demand movies. Actually going out to movies. Faith. Cinnamon rolls. My family. Butterflies. When my kitchen is clean. Crayons. Pink. Tote bags. Dancing. Organizing via color coordination. That my wedding dress was tea length, not floor. Baking. My house. Writing utensils. Paper. India. The sound of water. Making videos. Buttons. The word Episcopalian. Making people laugh. Layering clothes. British accents. Pinterest. Animation. Fireworks. The smell of the Ocean. My wedding rings. Aprons. Reasons to get dressed up. Sex. Pop music. Stars. Taking walks. Daydreaming. Stickers. School Spirit. My friends. Living in a small town. Japan. Singing. Painting my toenails. Pranks/ practical jokes. Painting. Stretch canvas. Costumes. Dipping my fingers in melted wax. Style. Soda. Spending an hour typing at a coffee shop. Musicals. Back to school season. Mopeds. Good hair days. Naps. Not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase. Driving alone. My ankles. Playlists. Spending entire days in pajamas. Holidays. Telling stories. Spontaneity. Theme parks. Bookshelves. The word copacetic. Boxes. Empty journals. Surprises. Doing things in groups. Doing things alone. Getting real mail. Decorating. Small forks. A good hug. Gift cards. New Years Goals. Going out to dinner. When someone else remembers some great story about me/us that I’ve forgotten. Toy stores. Fireplaces. Breakfast foods. Journaling. Crying for a good reason. Doorbells. Pointless adventures. Voting. My birthday. Reasons to make wishes. Recycling.

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Profile Image for Victoria.
8 reviews954 followers
March 23, 2016
UPDATE 3/23/2016:

YOU GUYS. I owe Kiera Cass a TREMENDOUS apology. Kiera Cass is the mother-effing ORACLE OF DELPHI. GET THAT WOMAN A JOB IN THE WHITE HOUSE, STAT.

Because you guys. She predicted Donald Trump's America. Rich businessman. War with China. Renaming country after own self. Creating a caste system based off of how much money one has.

I didn't believe this was an America that could happen, but turns out, I was the one who was wrong.

*sobbing quietly into nuclear bunker*


I almost never write reviews, but I had to write one to try to persuade people to read this book. Really, it has to be read to be believed. This is actually the worst book I've ever had the pleasure to encounter in my life, and I think it's only fair that everyone else get to enjoy it, too. It's the best ten bucks and three hours of my life I've ever spent.

I'm not being sarcastic. The entertainment value of this novel is high. Especially if you can reenact scenes out loud with your boyfriend, which I may or may not have done.

As for all you people who couldn't finish it? WEAK. Seriously. The effery gets more and more amazing and you missed some inspiring prose.

I've read through many of the reviews here, and people have done a good job of covering the problems. Forgive me for treading familiar ground.

1. RIDICULOUS NAMES. I know, Collins did the same thing. But while it works in Hunger Games to underscore the absurdity of the society (the silliest names come from the Capitol or Career districts), here, it just makes all of our descendants sound stupid.

Stop smoking pot, kids. Your progeny will be born dumb and name THEIR progeny things like "America," "Aspen," and "Clarkson." Please. Think of the children.

(Tangent: I was describing this book to a friend, and I said, "The heroine is named America Singer. She has a really special talent, and you can tell from her name." My friend: ". . .Is she really good at freedom?")

2. EXECRABLE WORLDBUILDING. Great, even good dystopians SHOULD stem from a plausible scenario of the future (e.g. 1984), and MUST make a commentary on society as it is now (Hunger Games is once again the good example here--it isn't exactly plausible, but all that War is Hell stuff is good).

This book fails miserably on both points. Not only is the vision of the future ridiculous and implausible based on the world we know today, it demonstrates a complete lack of historical, economic, political, and anthropological understanding.

Midway through the book, we are given a breathtakingly idiotic vision of the future (how has no one addressed this yet? It's like the best part of the book).

I suspect that the attitude of this author is best summed up in what one of the instructors says to the Selected: "Dear girls, history isn't something you study. It's something you should just know." If Cass had actually studied history at any point, she would have realized how asinine and ill-concieved this vision of the future is.

Moving on, though I guess it's hard to move on from that idiocy. Anyway, the book also doesn't make a particularly cogent argument against misogyny, class-ism, or even basic stupidity. For example,

Finally, the book actually perpetrates and supports misogynistic ideas. For example, Marlee tells America that girls are all bitchy and out to backstab each other. America takes this in stride, instead of, oh, pointing out that her sisters were great to her? Why is it okay to say this or perpetrate this kind of belief about women? Of course it's true of some women, as it's true of some men. But it's not GENERALLY true of ALL women, and to say so is grossly misogynistic.

3. TERRIBLE CHARACTERIZATION. People lack depth, subtlety, and consistency in this book. You have the classic Bitchy Mean Girl, the Devoted Maids, the Kindly Best Friend, the Adorable Young Tyke, and on and on and on.

As for lack of consistency: Maxon, for example, is described as being not very good with girls ("I don't meet very many women," he says at one point). . . and yet he goes around calling everyone 'my dear' (ewww sleazy, by the way?) like a dedicated Regency rake. It would be one thing if this was described as being awkward, but instead the women all seem to really like it--so he's inexperienced, yet smooth with the ladies? WTF?

Maxon is in general the least sexy 'hero' I've ever read. First off, he's a shitty prince. Even America studied the names/faces of the other Selected, but Maxon asks to be "[forgiven] if [he's] slow with names; there are quite a few [girls]." You're a PRINCE, Maxon. Learning people's names and remembering them is a PART OF YOUR JOB, especially because you have access to that information. Sit your ass down. Memorize their names and faces.

He's also completely ignorant of what's going on in his country until America tells him (and then he becomes an overnight communist because of her. Not that there's anything wrong with communists per se, but I'm still amused). I get that as the prince he was maybe really sheltered from the realities of the caste system, but it's still really unsexy that he hasn't even tried to find out before. It demonstrates a complete lack of curiosity, empathy, and imagination.

As a love interest, Maxon is just really creepy. He says, "You [the Selected girls] are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest." Oh, ick.

The problem isn't that Maxon has clearly never been laid, which is fine (I love non-man-ho heroes!), the problem is he's so awkward/sketchy that he also couldn't get laid if his life depended on it. Actually, I wonder if he actually has all his manly parts intact, because he talks/acts/thinks like a not very bright woman.

I also really enjoyed this description of Maxon: "He just looked . . . thoughtful. It was an interesting expression on his face." Because, you know, Maxon usually just looks dumb as a brick, so when he's thinking, it's totally weird.

As for America, her stupidity is kind of endearing. Watching her navigate the world is like watching a toddler cross traffic, only really hilarious. She's unbelievably self-centered, egotistical, and smug.

For example, her treatment of her maids is poorly thought out. It's like Cass wants to make America sympathetic by having her care about her maids (), but America's actual behavior towards the girls is condescending and smug. First, she can't be bothered to learn their names/distinguish them from each other. Later, she self-righteously says that she "enjoys the company of Sixes." How about saying that YOU NEVER NOTICE CASTES, AMERICA? That would be a better way of putting it.

Finally, America seems to think that the girls are TOTALLY HAPPY to just be America's maids and have no outside interests/lives. According to America, they just LIVE to serve her. All people have their own agendas, Cass, and to describe the girls otherwise--especially when you are using them to make a point about America's kindness/thoughtfulness--ends up making America look even more self-absorbed, naive, and oblivious.

4. WORSE DIALOGUE. There is no subtlety, no tension. If someone wants to know something? SURE. Any character will spill the inner workings of their mind immediately. Case in point: when Aspen is angry at America for cooking dinner, instead of drawing out the tension and creating a sense of unease with Aspen withholding this information, Aspen simply bursts out the (chauvinistic) truth.

Or when Maxon asks America whether or not she can love him (the second time they meet), instead of saying, "no, you're really creepy/desperate, ew" or "how the fuck should I know, I just met you last night," which is I think how most girls would respond to that kind of question on the second meeting (NOT even the second date), America says no and then TELLS HIM WHY--a reason that can technically GET HER IN TROUBLE.

Who does that? Someone who is acting according to the dictates of plot instead of human nature and their own characterization.

(Then another character describes America as 'mysterious' at one point. America, who literally cannot keep her mouth shut about ANYTHING, even her own darkest secrets. Clearly, the author's definition of 'mysterious' is very different from everyone else's.)

Cass is also VERY fond of using the dialogue tag "sing" or "sang out." Of the 7 or 8 times she does this, it fits ONCE (when May sings the "sitting in a tree" song.) This is a really idiotic move because I sort of imagine everyone singing in a Miss Piggy tone of voice.

5. PECULIAR DICTION. The queen is described as sitting "not in an icy way," in contrast to her husband and son. Which makes zero sense. Posture is not described as icy: tone is, mien is, but not THE WAY YOU SIT. You can't just use words because you feel like it. Words mean specific things.

Also, someone twirls her fork "menacingly." No, really. This is one of those fun things you can try to do at dinner tonight.

(I get what Cass is trying to go here, but she hasn't described it right. The girl's expression can be menacing WHILE she twirls her fork. Or it can even be something like, "She was merely twirling pasta on her fork, but she somehow managed to make the gesture look menacing, like she meant to stab me in the eye with it after I was finished eating." But the way it's written is just abuse of the English language.)

America also puts her books on a "helpful" shelf. That's how I describe all my furniture when they fulfill their function: chairs are "helpful" when I sit in them, beds are "helpful" because I can sleep in them, and "stoves" are helpful when they HELP ME COOK DINNER. THANKS, STOVE.

At one point, America describes Aspen's hair as "scraggly." Here is the definition of scraggly:
1. (of a person or animal) Thin and bony.
2. Ragged, thin, or untidy in form or appearance.

Now, I recognize the use of the word "or" in this definition: that it can mean ragged, thin, OR untidy. However, words have connotations as well as denotations, and using the word "scraggly" implies dirty and thin.

Probably not how you want people to imagine one of the love interests' hair.

Cass also likes to juxtapose words weirdly, like when America "whisper-yelled" at Aspen, or when Maxon laughs "with a bizarre mix of rigidity and calm," or a character who smiles in a way that's both "excited and timid."


6. TELLING, NOT SHOWING. America's family is described as poor because they are lower caste. I don't buy it. She has her own bedroom, and her family owns not only a fridge, but a TV, and they eat popcorn while they watch it. Sure, they are kind of hungry (and they don't have enough makeup *tear*), but when they ARE described as having amenities, it isn't explained.

And it would have been so easy to do! Such as, "the fridge was a cast-off from the home of a Three!" "Popcorn is cheap, so it's the only snack we can afford!" "I had my own room, but only because older sis moved out!" (It's also unclear what kind of house/neighborhood the Singers live in. Suburbs? Inner city? Rural countryside? This would have gone a long way towards establishing America's poverty).

Or people are described as "regal" without any indication of what that means (stiff posture? Raised chin? Expressionless face? Walks with a stick up their rears? WHAT? TELL US.)

America's first breakfast in the palace: "The eggs and bacon were heaven, and the pancakes were perfectly done, not too thin like the ones I made at home." WHAT DO HEAVENLY EGGS AND BACON TASTE LIKE TO YOU, AMERICA? CRISPY? SOGGY? SALTY? DOES THE FAT MELT ON YOUR TONGUE? Writers: make your words count.

Here's another stunning example of Cass's descriptive prowess: "The wallpaper, the gilt mirrors, the giant vases of fresh flowers were all so beautiful. The carpets were lavish and immaculate, the windows were sparkling, and the paintings on the wall were lovely."

What kind of wallpaper is it? How big are the mirrors? What kind of flowers? What do the carpets look like? WHAT DOES ANYTHING LOOK LIKE?

This is not how you write description, guys.

The telling, not showing also ties into the bad characterization. We are TOLD, for example, that Aspen's mother is kind, because she "give[s] clothes that didn't fit her kids anymore to families who had next to nothing."

This is not an effective example of kindness. Giving away clothes that you don't use anymore isn't kind, because it lacks the element of sacrifice. It's vaguely charitable at best. If Cass wanted to use this example, she would have had to add something along the lines of "instead of selling it for money."

7. AWKWARD, STUPID, STILTED PLOT. Witness the 'bargain' that America offers the prince during their first meeting: she offers to be his friend and to help him selected a bride(after spilling all her dark secrets, natch). Then, after like two meetings (dates lol), America is hurt when Maxon didn't tell her something because she thinks that they are 'friends'. Not everyone is you, America. Not everyone tells all their secrets to their actual friends after YEARS, let alone to random people after a mere days.

8. PROBLEMATIC NOTIONS OF LOVE. For example, at one point the prince says, "I hope to find happiness, too. To find a woman that all of Illea can love, someone to be my companion and to help entertain the leaders of other nations. Someone who will befriend my friends and be my confidante. I'm ready to find my wife."

This is really offensive, and it's never addressed. Maxon's idea of love is incredibly self-centered: someone whom HIS people can love, someone to be HIS companion, someone to help HIM entertain leaders of other nations, someone to befriend HIS friends and be HIS confidante. And sure, a princess is public commodity and she should be popular with his people and not embarrass the country in front of other nations. But even if you strip away the "public" aspect, Maxon doesn't at all mention wanting to be friends with HER friends, to be HER support, to be HER companion, to be a part of HER life. He wants to enfold her into HIS life.

9. STATISTICS IS FOR OTHER PEOPLE. I'm a little confused by everyone's lack of understanding of basic statistics in this book. The selection is a lottery, and your odds are Not Good.

And yet this book opens, "When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me."

Um, I hate to break it to you, America, but technically the first big hitch in her problem is STATISTICS. Your problems are not solved until YOU ARE SELECTED. God, if the woman thinks the "big hitch in her plan" is America's stubbornness, she must be dumber than a brick--like mother, like daughter, eh? Curse you, mathematics, for being SO DIFFICULTS.

Later on, America notes that "families had already started throwing parties for their daughters, sure that they would be the one chosen for the Selection." SERIOUSLY? THAT'S LIKE ME CELEBRATING WINNING THE MEGA MILLIONS JACKPOT BECAUSE I BOUGHT A TICKET.

10. FORGET ABOUT THAT MFA. I would say this is pretty much a master class in how not to write a novel. Aspiring novelists, take note. You can learn more about what not to do spending ten bucks on this than in an expensive university writing program

11. AUTHORS BEHAVING BADLY. Writing a book is really hard. I respect that. I don't respect the way this author treats reviewers, because reviews are for readers, who deserve to know what they are getting for their money.

Edited: You guys, thank you so much for reading. I am blown away by all of your support. The review for The Elite is up, and I'm working on The Heir. Will attach links soon.
Profile Image for Kiki.
194 reviews8,528 followers
October 13, 2018
This book is like those little sachets of Nutella you get as free samples with like a magazine or a packet of Ritz or something, in that it's empty calories lite but seriously delicious. It's really small and really bad for you and not really that satisfying but shit if you don't enjoy it. Because, no matter how superior you think your tastes are, you will enjoy this. Even just on a voyeuristic level. You just have to forget all of the stuff you know. Like, all of it. Forget what you learned in civics class and don't you dare remember even one page of that history textbook that your teacher shoved under your nose when you were eleven. Don't untangle those headphones; don't try to line up the yellow smarties. This book is a house of cards. Really cool to look at, but totally flimsy.

(And the controversy is such a shame. It's a shame that the creative minds behind this lovably fluffy duck-down are the sort to hurl expletives at honest, non-inflammatory reviewers via Twitter, which is literally the weakest way to attack someone, because were your reasons so flimsy that they wouldn't fill out more than 140 characters? Come on.)

Personal shitstorms aside, this book has about as much class and substance as its creators, but that's isn't to say that it didn't nicely pad out a two-hour train journey from Dundee to Glasgow. That commute, especially on a Friday lunchtime, is a snore. Add that to a tiny waif of a story with all of the addictive allure of crack and you've got two covers that you can turn in one single sitting.

I'm not going to lie to you and say that I didn't have preconceived notions about this one; I mean, come on. The social drama was embarrassing. Add that to a name like "America Singer" and you've got a character I'm expecting to hate. But the thing was that I totally didn't.

I have a bit of a problem with those who expect teen girls in YA books to behave like street-smart successful thirty-year-olds with enough life experience to be able to judge any situation with a clinical and businesslike edge. I know I wasn't like that when I was sixteen, and neither were you. When I was sixteen I fell in love with a supply teacher and thought that having chipped nail polish made me look edgy.

America is kind of like me. She's probably kind of like you, too. She's over-dramatic and foolishly optimistic and she gets swept up by a single kind action from a cute boy. So what? She's a teenage girl. She's also careful, restrained and compassionate. She doesn't swallow bullshit like it's Orange Julius. She's believable. I'm not usually a huge fan of the whole "I'm special because I'm plain" which this whole book does use as a giant smoke screen for its sexism: there's the inevitable conversation in which someone says that big groups of girls always means there's snarky bitching and tons of competition, which doesn't hang together at all if you look at what is perpetuating this competition. Cass gives us commentary on girls and their competitiveness without actually tackling the reasoning behind that, which is of course a society whose foundations rely on a lack of camaraderie between women and this idea that in terms of relationships, men come first.

Who is funding, perpetuating, and benefitting from the Selection? Maxon, who will gain a wife, and the king, who will solidify his dynasty. The queen is merely there for decoration; she says and does nothing of import. This book, had it not been the Nutella free sample of dystopia in which there's no greater peril than running out of bow tie pasta and having to resort to lasagne sheets, could have been a fantastic allegory for the way in which women compete and are punished for it, when in fact it is men and male benefactors specifically who both incite and perpetuate said competition. We are supposed to hate Celeste because she's our stereotypical heartless mean girl - and YA caters only to the insecurities of those who are visually plain, placing girls who wear lipstick into a terribly unflattering light and only exacerbating "types of girls" - when in fact Celeste and her desperation to climb the social ladder is a blinding example of what this patriarchal power imbalance between men and women has created in Cass's world. That is, the idea that male acceptance and male pleasure has infinitely greater value than that of women. This idea that men and romance comes first, and female friendships threaten that, and get her! Tackle her! Don't let that *hussy* steal your man! He's all that gives you value, remember?

Calling out "all my friends are guys, there's less drama because girls are bitches" gives me immense satisfaction. When I hear that self-important special snowflake shit it makes me want to hurl. Is that any way to speak about your fellow woman? Do you understand the waves that women can make when they work together?

This book is nowhere near as bad in this area as it could have been - but we weren't spared disapproving glances at Bariel's breasts or the constant commentary on Celeste and her ridiculously exaggerated competitive antics. Do me a favour and spare me another wasted concept, because there's no peril to this, and because there's no peril, the story has no weight. None of these girls are being forced to do this. There's monetary gain involved but America's family are not exactly begging for scraps, are they? Why on earth we're watching a middle-class girl agonize so deeply over a silly competition that she chose to enter is beyond me. What's further beyond me is the whole caste system, and why it's even in place, and why this book is a dystopia. This could have been a four-star read for me had it been set in a high fantasy world, maybe in a kingdom called Candy Land where everything was frivolous and silly with an undercurrent of darkness and social instability.

But let's look at the technicalities of this. We have a competition with no negative outcomes that everyone adores except the faceless "rebels" who lack any real presence and who are portrayed as nasty barbarians when in fact what they're rebelling against is fat cats sitting in a palace eating fruitcake while children in the lower castes starve. The prince for whom they're competing is hot and charming and sweet. Goddamn, nothing about this is dystopian. You might look at the poverty pointedly but is the poverty ever explored in any meaningful way? Is there ever any real commentary attached to it? No.

Jesus, just add some fucking peril to your dystopia. "But it's light and fluffy! It's not meant to be serious!" you say. Newsflash: dystopia is a really goddamn serious genre. Dystopia is a genre that is built around social commentary. Don't you dare come in and fluff up a genre that was created as a platform for authors to offer creative, intelligent critique and discourse on some of the most controversial and powerful social issues in the real world. Dystopia is a gift; dystopian stories can make us better people. This is not a dystopia. It is just silly.

Honestly? This book could have been so much more. It could have been powerful and groundbreaking. It's not like the writing was anything special (in some places, it's just plain bad. This book is filled with some of the most unnatural and stilted dialogue I have ever read) or that any of the characters, even those I liked (Maxon was an unexpected favourite of mine, even if he is a two-faced spineless dingbat), grabbed my attention enough to make me give a crap. It's just one big pile of wasted potential. And I am so suspicious of authors who say that they "write without agenda" because one cannot claim to do impossible things. Every single piece of writing in existence has agenda, big or small, powerful or menial. Don't say that you just wanted to write a little light-hearted dystopia that nobody should take too much to heart. Don't. Don't do that. Don't do what Lauren DeStefano did when she wrote about rape and polygamy and forced marriage and sex with thirteen year olds and then claimed that there was no social commentary behind it, and that she wasn't trying to say anything with her writing. The fuck?

Don't fuck with really serious issues and then try to wriggle out of readers' concern or curiosity by claiming that you "didn't mean anything by it". That's lazy and also sort of insulting.

All of that said, don't be too surprised by my three-star rating. I'm sorry, but I couldn't award less to a book that engrossed me so, and that was such guilty fun. I was absolutely hypnotized.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,631 reviews34k followers
September 9, 2016
Reaction before reading this book: I know I may be a sucker for falling for this cover, but look at it! I totally want to go to that party.

Reaction after reading this book: I no longer want to go to this party.

Full disclosure: I did not read this entire book. I took notes for the first 88 pages, read to page 168, and then skimmed the rest. I think reading more than half the book qualifies as giving it a fair shot.

The Selection arrives with a gorgeous cover and interesting premise. What if a lottery allowed 35 teenage girls to compete for the hand of a handsome prince? I thought this might be a fun and fluffy read, so I pushed aside my initial misgivings about the names and pounced on the chance to read the ARC. Turns out, sometimes your gut is just trying to do its job, as I kept struggling with the book until I finally admitted that I didn't find a single aspect of this story that I enjoyed. Somehow I missed the early blurb that described this novel as a mash-up between the The Bachelor and The Hunger Games, which is unfortunate because the comparison to the television show is pretty spot-on. Mentioning it in the same breath as The Hunger Games is a travesty, however, since this book barely qualifies as a dystopian novel--and certainly the quality of the story, characters, themes, and writing don't come even close to comparing.

Here are some facts which may help you decide whether you want to read this book:

Character Names: Our main character's name is America Singer. Guess what she does. Her boyfriend's name is Aspen. Prince Charming's name is Prince Maxon Schreave, who must marry a "True Daughter of Iléa." Other names include Queen Amberly, King Clarkson, Tiny, Kriss, Marlee, Bariel, Gavril, Kamber, and Sosie.

Attempts to Make This Novel Dystopian: Sketchy caste system. Talk of provinces. Girls are required to wait until marriage to have sex. Infrastructure Committees. Occasional mentions of hunger and lack of makeup.

Writing: Very obvious protestations that are easily seen through. Juvenile dialogue. A lot of whispering to convey dramatic statements. A plethora of exclamation points.

Bachelor-like Elements: Contestants vying for a "perfect" guy. Appearance fees. Contracts. Gossiping. Sabotage. Tears. Eliminations. Television specials. Icky elements. But no limos and no rose ceremonies! Booo.

Most Annoying Element of All: The story ends on a cliffhanger, as if there was so much going on in this one book, it could not be contained in a single volume.


Random Quotes:

Why did Mom have to push me so much? Wasn't she happy? Didn't she love Dad? Why wasn't this good enough for her?

"Please don't call me gorgeous. First my mom, then May, now you. It's getting on my nerves." By the way Aspen was looking at me, I could tell I wasn't helping my "I'm not pretty" case. He smiled.

Aspen was dressed in white. He looked angelic.

That was it. I slapped him. "You idiot!" I whisper-yelled at him. "I hate him! I loved you! I wanted you; all I ever wanted was you!"

"If you don't want me to be in love with you, you're going to have to stop looking so lovely."


So. Whether you'll enjoy this book depends on whether you find any of the above details appealing. If, like me, they make you want to pull out your hair, it may be best to either try this one out at the library first or just admire the pretty cover design from a safe distance.

Putting aside the fact that this probably would have worked better as a straightforward fairy tale without the pseudo-dystopian details, as well as the annoying focus on boys boys boys being the be-all and end-all of this book, the whole thing wasn't really a very enjoyable reading experience to me, not even as mindless entertainment. Every scene, every character, and every plot development was predictable and worse yet, a cliché, and the dialogue and machinations felt painfully juvenile throughout the entire story. I almost wish this were a middle grade novel, except that there are a few too many make out scenes for that. Plus I don't think I would have enjoyed this even at the age of 8.

As always, these kinds of books are just a matter of taste. All in all, I really don't have violent feelings about The Selection the way I do with such books as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or Elizabeth Miles' Fury, but I'm afraid I can't say that I found very much about it that was redeeming, either.

This review also appears in The Midnight Garden.

After less than 24 hours of this review being live: Some pretty horrible developments occurred. Please check message #239 on this post if you're interested. And yes, this is the review that was featured the Publishers Weekly article Should Authors and Agents Weigh In on Citizen Reviews?

Those interested in how this one review still continues to affect me 2 years after posting it should check out the links in message #239 as well. This review has not been altered at all since its publication, with the exception of the addendum, and to delete a quote that was misread.

Profile Image for emma.
1,866 reviews54.3k followers
September 18, 2023
Heavens above, why are you smiting me?

I needed a comfort read. I needed a quick read. I had a terrible no good very bad and/or horrible day, as they say, and I needed an antidote. Of the literary variety.

So I picked up this book, which I’ve been meaning to reread, because I remembered it as being fast and fun and cute and easy.

Two of the adjectives I would have used were semi-accurate.

Hint: They’re not the genuinely complimentary ones.

I had two major problems with this book that just would not, could not go away. Would not, could not write people as gay.

(I’m trying out a new thing where I’m like the Dr. Seuss of negative reviews. Except did you guys know that he cheated on his wife who had cancer and she committed suicide when she found out? Not all Mr. Nice Fox in Socks.)

I guess I actually had three major problems with this. No, four!

One, there is straight up no diversity. (I’m not someone who just gives a book one star for being totally un-diverse, but this book is startlingly straight and white. And I also I have three whole other problems.) I believe there are two Asian characters, one of whom is named Tiny Lee - so just make up your own minds on that. But other than that, this is just a bunch o’ straight white girls looking for love. And I think it woulda livened up the plot a little to have at least one gay girl.

And the plot, I’m sorry, but it could use some livenin’ up.

Two, I LITERALLY HATE LOVE TRIANGLES. Granted, this was published five years ago, and love triangles were essentially a prerequisite for young-adult categorization, BUT STILL. Love triangles are so unrealistic and boring and uncomfy. The Big Three of me hating something.

Three, our main character, America, is The Best and So Quirky and The Chosen One and so totally...dare I say it...I must: not like other girls.

(Horrified gasp from the crowd at this surprise appearance from the world’s worst trope.)

I’ll just list out the examples I scribbled down, k?


- “Lots of the other girls looked a little older or younger or just nicer after the makeup. I still looked like me when I was done. Of course, so did Celeste, since she insisted upon piling it on.”
- “Bariel was beautiful, but in a typical way. It was similar to Celeste’s style.” Unfortunately we can’t all be not like other girls, America! It’s against the very nature of the term.
- “I had probably chosen my plainest dress for the first day, and everyone else’s had something sparkly on it.”
- even though this takes place in a prim-and-proper dystopian United States, America is told that if Maxon (the prince) asks to screw her, she has to say yes. She later freaks out at Maxon about this, and when she’s explaining what happened, Maxon is horrified and asks, “Was everyone told this?” America’s gorgeous and tactful response: “I don’t know. I can’t imagine many girls would need such a warning. They’re probably waiting to pounce on you.” SOMEONE PLEASE JUST MURDER ME. JUST TAKE ME OUT OF THIS MISERY.
- this whole book is also just that really annoying trope of when the girl ~doesn’t know she’s beautiful~ (RIP One Direction) and is totally oblivious to the way The Guy sees her and also everyone else and in order to keep that going the girl has to blatantly and impossibly misinterpret compliments
- one example of that: when Maxon tells America his mom loves her, she’s like, “omg now even his MOM thinks i’m totally weird and crazy oh man!!!!” WHICH HOW DO YOU GET THAT FROM AN OBVIOUS COMPLIMENT

But number four practically defines this book for me. THERE IS SO MUCH GIRL-ON-GIRL HATE IN THIS, AND SO MUCH SEXISM.

Let’s do another list. I love a list.


- the entire EXISTENCE of the Celeste character, as a mean girl/the sole villain, is so trope-y and girl-hate-y and boring
- it’s twice stated that the role of a guy in a relationship is to protect and provide for the female
- there’s a Gale in this love triangle, the hometown crush and underdog, and a Peeta, the fame-associated hottie. The Gale (Aspen) gets so mad at America for giving him food that he breaks up with her; America instructs the Peeta (Maxon) on how to contemplate the burden of having to provide for a wife
-“Girls like that? They’ll take themselves out of the competition.” Again, I cannot stress this enough to you guys - girls come in kinds. There are eight simple types, now available for men to order in one easy step!
- “You haven’t spent a whole lot of time with groups of girls, have you? [...] they each have their ways of getting under other people’s skin. [...] Lots of girls give me backhanded compliments, or little remarks, things like that.” Ah yes, I nearly forgot that it is the vocation of every female ever to be totally mean to every other female just for the hell of it.
- This may be personal preference, but I just hate that trope of “omg what do u do with a crying female!!! So confusing!!! What do they want!!! Why are they crying!!! Ugh how do we decode them women!!!”

There’s also just so many little dumb things. How’s about another list?! A classic one!!


- So the girls wear nametags at the beginning of the Selection. And when it’s time for bed on the first night, THEY PUT THE METAL NAMETAG PIN ON HER NIGHTGOWN. WHY WOULD SHE NEED IT. WHY WOULD SHE SLEEP IN A NAMETAG. I AM SILENTLY SCREAMING INTO THE ABYSS. (But how goddamn convenient that she happens to coincidentally meet Maxon that night when she’s supposed to be asleep.)
- While America’s waiting an unknown amount of time in her room for Maxon to show up, she says she doesn’t want to start a book only to stop, or play piano only to stop. So maybe we should just never do anything for fear of being interrupted.
- (I know that last one was particularly meaningless, but so much of this book rings unnatural and weird because of tiny stuff like that AND IT’S DRIVING ME BONKERS.)
- The quasi-history that brought us from current-day to the dystopian future this book takes place in just bugged me so much

Bottom line: This was quick to read so it’s not a true one star...but it’s like the worst parts of the Hunger Games + a medieval-esque adaptation of The Bachelor. In other words: problematic and cringy.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
July 20, 2015
I know, I know, I probably shouldn't have read this. But when a series gets to be this popular, I can't help needing to know why. I have friends who LOVED this and friends who HATED it, so I had to see for myself.

Firstly, the names. Okay, I’d already made peace with America Singer before going into this book. I knew that was her name, I knew it was silly, but whatever, it does not maketh or breaketh a book. But I didn’t know that America Singer was - wait, it’s too good - a singer. Honestly, why did the author think that was a good idea?

People try to excuse her stupid name with “but Katniss Everdeen was a ridiculous name too”. Yes, it was. But let’s think about how much worse it would have been if she’d been Katniss Evergreen, local fir tree.

Secondly, this book really is just like The Bachelor and nothing else. I know we can jokingly compare the competition of beauty pageants and various reality shows to The Hunger Games, but the fact that this is seriously being compared to putting kids in an arena and letting them kill each other is just hilarious. This is about a beautiful girl who gets so pissed when people comment on her obvious beauty:
"Please don't call me gorgeous. First my mom, then May, now you. It's getting on my nerves." By the way Aspen was looking at me, I could tell I wasn't helping my "I'm not pretty" case.

Oh, the pains of people thinking you’re gorgeous.

This beautiful girl enters The Selection - a contest of sorts where the poor competitors volunteer to compete for the heart of a handsome prince.

You’ve probably heard that there’s very little world-building, but I actually wish the author hadn’t bothered with the bit of world-building she tried to throw in. It draws more attention to how bad it is by the vague mention of poverty, children being beaten for stealing food, social castes that are distinguished by numbers, etc. Cass slips in a small mention of these and then very quickly moves onto the smooching.

Also, America’s family are supposed to be a hair’s breadth away from poverty:
“We weren’t destitute. But I guess we weren’t that far off either. Our caste was just three away from the bottom.”

And yet she has makeup products and:
“I had a few nicer dresses for when we worked, but they were hopelessly behind in the fashion department.”

Bloody hell, is this really supposed to be a dystopia to anyone other than Paris Hilton? Oh no, I have only a few nice dresses, what is this world?!

But America’s shallow self-centredness extends beyond her obsession with dresses, makeup and denying her own beauty. She somehow manages to see herself as a voice of righteousness for the people and yet she doesn’t even bother to learn the names of her maids at first. She has some notion (that I assume we’re supposed to accept as well) that she’s a really great person because she lowers herself to hang out with castes below her. Isn’t she a sweetie for mingling with the commoners?

The characters never develop beyond the most shallow archetypes - bitchy mean girls, “nice” best friend, banal love interest - all topped off with a Mary Sue protagonist. And Prince Maxon himself is about as sexy as a doorknob, with even fewer brain cells. How creepy is it that he says:
“You are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest.”

Is that meant to be cute? Because it isn’t cute. It’s weird.

Just one more thing. I wasn't going to go into details about the world-building. To be honest, I went into The Selection willing to forgive it for not being very good on that front. I mean, it's obvious that this book wasn't written for people who care deeply about historical, political and socioeconomic factors. But Cass should have continued being vague, she really should have. Things just went even further downhill when she tried to paint in a back story.

How did this world come about? Well, obviously there was a Third World War, duh. And if you had the most basic understanding of history, guess which countries might have invaded - yes, invaded, lol - the United States. China, you say? Bingo! Oh, and maybe the Russians? Yup, those too! I cringe just remembering it.

Also, why would China invade the US?

"When the United States couldn't repay their massive debt, the Chinese invaded. Unfortunately for them, this didn't get them any money, as the United States was beyond bankruptcy."

Is this for real?? Why would China be so stupid? Did they think they could just march in and seize the money the Americans wouldn't give them? And then when they don't get their money, they create "The American State of China." Which then gets invaded by an expansionist Russia!

This was way worse than if the author had simply offered no explanation for this society. It's a completely crazy explanation. Maybe Cass assumed her YA audience would be so history-dumb that it wouldn't matter if countries did stupid things for stupid reasons.

I guess I learned my lesson about trying out those "popular" books I never read.

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Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
June 13, 2021
Stuck at home? Got some time on your hands? Want to start a long series? But you don't want a dud?

Check out this booktube video - all about which series are worth your time (and which ones aren't)!

Check Out the Written Review!
The Bachelor + The Princess Diaries
I hope you find someone you can't live without.I really do. And I hope you never have to know what it's like to have to try and live without them.
North America was destroyed (wars, financial crisis, etc). A man of the name Gregory Illéa pulled together what was left to form Illéa.

This new country came with a strict caste system with Ones being the royal family all the way down to Eights - poor, starving untouchables.

America Singer, a Five, is among the artist caste. Hungry but not starving. Poor but not destitute.

She has a secret love, Aspen, a Six (the laborers and cleaners) and she knows nothing could be worse than their discovery. (In her country, only the harshest of punishments are towards the unpure girls).

Life seems rather hopeless...that is, until the chance of a lifetime swings her way.

The Selection.

Prince Maxon is ready to find his bride and the royals crowd-sourced 35 eligible healthy, virgins for the task.

America signs up for the Selection under duress of her family and (surprise, surprise) our heroine is selected.

Every week she remains in the prince's pool of suitable companions, her family gets much needed money. Every week she remains, she's one step closer to becoming a One.

As much as her family is rooting with her, she decides to cut a deal with Maxon. She'll be his friend, his eyes-and-ears in exchange for keeping her in the competition (and her family will keep getting that sweet paycheck).
“I’ve met nearly every woman in this room, and I can’t think of one who would make a better friend. I’d be glad to have you stay."
My relief was inexpressible.
"Do you think," Maxon asked, "That I could still call you ‘my dear’?"
"Not a chance." I whispered.”
Sometimes you need a dishy, cat-fighting, true-love-finding, princess-y sort of book and this one was certainly it.

I enjoyed the rather sweet romance that developed between our mains. (Thank goodness it wasn't an insta-love sort of deal).

Plus, who doesn't love it when there's solid banter between the leads?
“If you don’t want me to be in love with you, you’re going to have to stop looking so lovely. First thing tomorrow I’m having your maids sew some potato sacks together for you.”
The thing that bugged the ever-living daylights out of me was that the author really didn't know much about politics.

It sounds weird, but bear with me.

The country is in a bout of civil unrest, rebels (both factions) are breaking into the castle every other day... and the king decides to host the Bachelor? Really?

It just felt very.... under researched and clumsily done.

The author has the rebels breaking in so frequently that I really wondered if the king left the back door unlocked.

The caste system added drama... but you could tell that it was just there for girls to have excuses to be snobs to each other and for dramatic pining moments (I love him... but we could *never* be together).

All in all, it could've been a great book if it was better fleshed out but it's still an entertaining one. Just don't think too hard.

Audiobook Comments
Read by Amy Rubinate - not bad at all...EXCEPT FOR THE ACCENTS!!! I don't think the folks really planned out this audiobook series at all. Book 1 - Queen Amberly (no accent), her sister (southern twang). Companion Book The Queen - Queen Amberly (heavy, native "Honduraguan" accent). What the what.

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Profile Image for Shannon.
3,096 reviews2,381 followers
September 1, 2016
If you can get past the "I'm smelling my armpit" cover, and also the silly names, and the horribly unoriginal storyline, and the terrible writing ... wait, really, you can get past all of that? What does that leave you then? A nice ... font?

Seriously, though, read reviews for this one. They're not favorable for a reason.
Profile Image for Mariya.
576 reviews241 followers
January 13, 2012
"I'm not so stupid as to believe that you've completely forgotten about your former boyfriend. I know you think there are others here more suited for me and this life, and I wouldn't want you to rush into trying to be happy with any of this. I just...I just want to know if it's possible..."

THE SELECTION was one of the best books I have ever read! I don't think I quite expected that once I flipped the first page that I couldn't stop! But guess what it happened! I am constantly thinking about this book and I am 100% in "WOW" mode! Everything about this book I absolutely loved and I have no freaking clue how I am going to wait more than a year for the second book to come out. Such torture!

THE SELECTION is a dystopian novel, but it didn't seem so much like one to me, more like a Cinderella story. But they have a caste system in this world that goes from one to eight. One being very rich and eight being very poor. The Selection gets held for the prince where out of 35 woman he gets to narrow it down to one girl he picks as his princess. So notices gets sent to all the girls to the age of 16 to 20 and all the girls go crazy submitting their entries for THE SELECTION.

Since The Selection started, I'd been worrying that it was something that was going to ruin my life. But in this moment, I couldn't think of a time that felt more right.

As for America Singer our heroine of the story who is a five in the caste system, she doesn't want anything to do with THE SELECTION. Her mother is very needy and begging her because it is a wonderful opportunity. Even if you don't get chosen as the princess your life changes forever, you will be higher up in the caste system, and it would help America's family.

America doesn't care about any of that though, and plus she has a secret boyfriend, Aspen. It is sort of forbidden too for her to be with him. Later on, Aspen feels America should at least try for The Selection and she gets picked as one of 35 girls. And some problems happen between Aspen and America before she leaves.

He leaned in even closer to whisper. "You say you're here by mistake, so I'm assuming you don't want to be here.. Is there any possibility of you having any sort of...of loving feelings towards me?"

I liked America. I felt like she as a very strong heroine. And she is very unselfish. She is doing THE SELECTION for her family to help them, but also she wants some distance from Aspen. When we meet Prince Maxon he is everything America thought he wouldn't be. he is absolutely swoon worthy. I mean, come on. he is a prince. Maxon has very cute qualities that make my heart flutter. He has a cute reaction to crying ladies and it is funny. I love how he uses the term, "my dear", which America hates. Haha!

Prince Maxon is very sweet and kind and all her wants is to find a girl among the 35 girls that are at his palace that he could love. That girl may end up to be America though. But the question becomes is America even interested? Is she over Aspen yet? There seems to be a lot going on between Maxon and America without anything actually happening and it becomes clear in my opinion at least that America does like Maxon, but there are things she has to figure out first.

I wrapped my arms around him, resting my head against his chest. Maxon seemed both comforted and surprised by the gesture. I took only a second for him to wrap his arms securely around me. "Maxon, I'm not completely sure what we are, but we're definitely more than friends."

No surprise that I like Maxon more than Aspen, but Aspen definitely has his moments and it makes you feel a little sorry for him. But I most definitely want America and Maxon together. THE SELECTION was one absolutely amazing and my only complaint would be why this book isn't longer. It felt so short. I wish the book was like 500 pages long. I loved it that much! It will be complete torture waiting for the next book in the series.

More of my reviews at Mystifying Paranormal Reviews
Profile Image for Steph Sinclair.
461 reviews11.1k followers
February 2, 2015
I read this book for one reason: To find out why it's a New York Times Best-selling series. After drinking several beers and banging my head against the wall after reading The Selection, I can kinda see why. And to be fair, it's probably not the absolute worst book I've read. (I mean, there's still that time I read Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini...) Still, it is by no means something that I'd recommend.

I know it might seem like I detested The Selection based on my status updates, but to be perfectly honest, I haven't had this much fun reading a terrible book since Midnight Sun .

Reasons Why This Book is Made of LOLZ:

Character names: If there's one thing that I just don't understand about The Selection, it's why more creativity couldn't be used on character names. Really, I'm not asking for much here, but America SINGER? Character names based on their occupation? WHY? What's funny is when other characters ask America what she does for a living because THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT COULD POSSIBLY BE.

House of Mary Sues: It might not surprise you that this book is about a super special snowflake, but did you know that virtually ALL the characters are just as special? The competition in The Selection isn't just about which girl can win Maxon's heart. Oh no. It's about who's the most special of them all! And since most of them are so damn selfless, they end up tripping over themselves, giving each other compliment after compliment. ("No, you're the prettiest! You'd make such a great Queen. I'm nothing but a cardboard cutout excuse for a supporting character." *giggle*) I shit you not. In fact, even Maxon and Aspen are competing, too. In my hands I hold a royal flush of Mary Sues.

The love triangle: I almost always dislike love triangles. It turns the female character into someone who can only focus on the two boys and becomes a much less interesting person. Her entire story revolves around the boys and which one is the "most perfect" for her. In effect, she is defined by this love triangle and her story becomes a shipping war.

I was hoping The Selection wouldn't fall into that trap and was ecstatic that America was leaving Aspen behind when she left to live at the palace. But I knew things couldn't be that simple since he eventually shows up at the right fucking moment to add unnecessary romantic tension. Because what a coincidence that a poor boy, who's a glorified custodian, would find his way all the way to the palace and a guard right outside America's door! WOW! It must be fate... or perhaps bad writing. Let's go with the latter.

So now we have both boys back into America's life. What's a 16-year-old to do? Who are you going to choose, America?!
"No, I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me."

Bullshit. America spends majority of the book struggling with who to choose. And I would wager that the other books have the very same struggle. If there is one thing this book was good at, it was its predictability.

Also, did I mention how America has never had a female friend? The explanation for this is that she is always working and was homeschooled. But someone she made time to have a steady boyfriend (Aspen) for 2 years. She even mentions his sisters, but apparently, they aren't friends. Even more, I found it super strange that she mentions that Maxon would have been someone she befriended at home had he been a neighbor. So I guess America only had time to make male friends back at home. It's after she is forced to be around other females that she makes female friends.

The thing about her female friends is that the only thing they ever talk about is Maxon. Though he is a supporting character to America, he holds the center of this novel, making it complete one-dimensional, lacking any character depth. It's a real shame because the premise of The Selection isn't entirely a horrible one. But instead, Cass sets up a plot that is so staged that I couldn't possibly take it seriously. Supporting characters are weaker to make America seem stronger. Supporting character make ridiculous suggestions so America can seem smarter. Rebels attack the palace for... reasons not expanded on because it has nothing to do with the romance. But, hey, those scenes make America look like a leader, so why not?

(What really kills me is how America tells Maxon that she "just needs time" to get over her ex-boyfriend, but he has no idea it's Aspen, the very guard he stationed right outside her bedroom at night. And she doesn't seem to have any inclination to tell Maxon either. Also, Maxon doesn't own a set of balls.)

Like I said earlier, I can sort of see the appeal of this book and I've been told it's really popular among younger readers. Two hot boys, pretty dresses, a light and fluffy read. There is nothing wrong with these things. I occasionally like them in my books as well, depending on what kind of mood I'm in. But I would have liked the novel to be about more than just a girl choosing between each guy. We know nothing about her beaus outside of how "cute" they are to America. What are their traits, strengths, morals? How do they individually enhance America's life? What do these male characters represent on a larger scale? How do they even differ?

The Selection doesn't even begin to touch on any of those questions because the story doesn't actually leave you with any to ponder. What it does leave you with is a promise of a love triangle from hell and a sinking sense that the remainder of the series could only be one thing: a waste of time. My paperback came with a sneak peek of book 2 and I was very underwhelmed even more than I was with The Selection. She starts off book 2 with the difficult choice of Maxon or Aspen. I think I will spare myself.

So the question is: Is this book worth a read? In my opinion, no. Alternately, there's The Jewel that has a very similar feel, but is an overall stronger novel in every possible way. Read that instead.

Steph... out!

More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews63.8k followers
May 31, 2020
Upon re-read 5 years later- Welp, it's still the "guilty pleasure" light silly read I knew it to be, but definitely not quite as entertaining as I remember.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.4k followers
June 16, 2021
This is becoming a TV show so I feel the need to come back and edit my review.

The whole series is like junk food. I don't think it's good for me. I'm not even sure I'm enjoying it... But I can't stop!

I never thought I would read this book, let alone finish it but it happened.

Is it great literature? No. But it also doesn't claim to be. You'll probably roll your eyes a lot, the love triangle is pointless but I did read the whole trilogy so...

Will I watch the TV show? Yeah probably lol
Profile Image for Lea.
112 reviews502 followers
September 10, 2014

[**NOTE: This review was not affected by online drama or controversy. Everything I have to say here is based on my own personal opinion about the book itself, even though I definitely think Cass needs a new publicist.]

[**NOTE #2: All the captions in the non-animated picture memes were made by me-- because, you know, I'm just THAT brilliantly witty. So please don't use them without asking my permission first. Thanks :)]


Now with a story premise like that, honestly I thought it would take a lot to ruin this book for me. 35 girls all competing for one crown and the heart of one handsome prince? Sign me up and bring on the popcorn! However, The Selection turned out to be one of those unfortunate books that had about twenty-dozen little things in it that just aggravated the crap out of me, with the end result being that I was entertained by it for all the wrong reasons.

So first, a word about love triangles. I honestly don't mind them IF they are done well. But in this case, the love triangle was SO freaking forced, cliche, and angsty, I was ready to tear my hair out strand by strand. The whole thing between America, Aspen, and Maxon was just completely ridiculous (ALMOST as ridiculous as those names), and the motivations behind their actions made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There were so many instances of juvenile misunderstanding, miscommunication, etc. that I'm not even going to bother going into specifics. All I have to say is: STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE LOVE TRIANGLE HAPPEN.

Moving on, America as a main character was just about two steps away from being completely intolerable. She was-- to put it simply-- extremely annoying (Highlight, underline, and bold extremely). I *might* have been able to stand her if all the little things that were supposed to make her seem like a fun and feisty redhead hadn't come across as painfully redundant and irritating (Oh and by the way- I'm a genuine redhead, so I can tell you right now, we don't act like America Singer). So yeah, by the end, I was pretty much incredibly offended that my redheaded-ness was portrayed in such a pathetic and crappy light. For example, she denies ad nauseum that she's beautiful even though she clearly is. (Please note, America: False modesty does not make you more attractive-- it makes people want to punch you in the face.) She makes constant quips and remarks about the stuffy life that Maxon leads and he finds it to be cute (it's not). She's got the whole cliche tom-boy thing going on while every other girl is a Stepford clone-- It was just like, OK, I get it, she's one of those totally-gorgeous-but-she's-the-only-one-who-thinks-she's-not girls. And ironically? She stands out in the story because she's so "different" from the other girls, while simultaneously being about as cliche as they come.

As for the rest of the girls in the book? Well, let's just say that added to the exasperating America Singer, this book just made me hate girls. For real. Even more than ANTM.

And the guys weren't any better. Probably because they were about as manly as:

Sexy, amirite?

Prince Maxon was seriously one of the most awkward characters I've ever encountered-- and not in that adorable, hott kind of way either. In typical Disney prince fashion, he was so perfect and nice that I couldn't even take him seriously. He bored me to tears and was overly-sheltered to the point of being pathetic. And his behavior? It made NO SENSE. Let's review: America wrongly assumes that Maxon is about to rape her-- then she proceeds to knee him in the royal jewels-- then he pretty much brushes it off like a day later and goes back to let's-be-best-friends-because-I-don't-have-any mode. Seriously dude? I've never watched The Bachelor, but I'm thinking that if some strange girl told the guy that she had zero interest in him, that she was in love with somebody else, that she was only there for the food (no I'm not making this up) AND THEN wrongly accused him of being a rapist, I'm going to take a **wild guess** that he would've kicked her out of the mansion on the spot. I mean, that's a pretty serious way to offend someone, no?

But then when America tries to explain to him that Celeste the Biotch is sabotaging the rest of the girls, he throws a hissy fit being all like, "YOU WILL RESPECT MAH AUTHORATAH!" -- and almost sends her home. Whhhhhaaaatttt???

However, Prince Maxon wasn't nearly as douche-baggy as Aspen, the chauvinistic jerk-wad who gets his panties all in a bunch when America tries to make him dinner and then immediately bails on her because he can't handle the helpless, little woman being the one providing for him. This guy seriously needed to grow a pair.

Another beef I had with this book was that I couldn't find any context for the kind of society that America Singer lives in. HOW did Illea come to be the way it is? What major events led up to the creation of a society where there's a monarchy, an eight-tiered caste system, and two different groups of rebel forces trying to bring it down? And why again was The Selection created?? (Vague explanation: it creates hope. okaaayyyy...) And don't even get me started on "The History Lesson" that was randomly thrown in, because it made absolutely NO SENSE (The American State of China? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA). Apparently there was a Third and Fourth World War where the US was invaded by China and then Russia because it couldn't pay off its massive debt. Riiiiiiiiiiight... Explain that one to me, please-- last time I checked, major international superpowers don't behave like 4th graders trying to steal someone's lunch money by giving them a massive wedgie. So, in a nutshell, the "history lesson" that attempted to establish the world of Illea explained nothing.

So for me, it was difficult to find a connection to this world because it wasn't built on any solid foundation that would have made it remotely believable. And I'm sorry, but if a book can't manage to adequately explain how a society came to be and what the motivation is behind the ones leading it or trying to tear it down (**cough, cough** Matched! **cough, cough**), that for me is a major dystopian FAIL. In the end, I just had to take Illea for what it was-- a make-believe fairy-tale kind of setting that had no plausible explanation for why it exists or how it came to be.

Now if the long-awaited, delicious drama of a 35-girl competition had actually happened, I really wouldn't have cared about the absence of a thought-provoking dystopia. But where the heck was the crazy competition part of the story?? That whole Bachelor spin-off was the number one reason I was looking forward to reading this book in the first place! And the entire thing ended up being one big snoozefest. There were some random acts of cattiness and backstabbing, a few girls got kicked off, a few dresses got ruined, but hardly anything was explained and there was little to no build-up. What happened to--

Not only was there no drama, but I honestly couldn't have cared less about who got kicked off and who stayed. Note to the author: If you aren't going to even bother telling your readers WHO your characters are, WE AREN'T GOING TO GIVE A CRAP WHEN THEY GET BUMPED OFF. We have ZERO investment in them. So faceless, never-before-mentioned Girls #1, 2 and 3 got the ax? Umm, yeah don't care. No shock value. And Celeste the spoiled little rich girl? C'mon now, she was one big glaring stereotype and had about as much personality as a thumbtack. It was boring!! And one of the girls was named Tiny. I'm sorry, but how can I take a book seriously with character names like Tiny, Tuesday, King Clarkson, and Maxon Schreave? (Answer: I can't.) And when the only thing in your dystopia that comes across as being even slightly disturbing is the prospect that one day we will be moronic enough to name our kids "Tiny" and "America," well, you've messed up something pretty badly. Just sayin'.

So for me, the only thing that this book had going for it was that it was *mildly* entertaining in a mindless kind of way, and there was nothing about it that made me want to seriously punch a hole in the wall. But the rest was either very confusing or highly predictable. Everything from the characters, to the love triangle, to most of the outcomes of The Selection were all very easy to see coming from miles away. I'm sorry, but I really couldn't find anything about this book that was terribly exceptional or interesting and overall, I just wasn't impressed.

After this, I think I'll be picking up a book about killer dragons. Or bioengineered war beasts. That really sounds like a good idea right about now...

~Lea @ LC's Adventures in Libraryland
Profile Image for Maria.
67 reviews8,576 followers
March 26, 2019
4/5 Stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
“True love is usually the most inconvenient kind.”

Wow! How refreshing! I feel so much lighter now, like a weight has been lifted off of me. I feel happy and fluffy and bubbly. This is such a fan and entertaining read. I can't even review it properly. You can't just criticize harshly a trash YA book, made to not be taken seriously. Guys, let some love into your life! This book meets The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor meets America's Next Top Model meets any kind of trashy reality show you will find on TV meets any kind of chick lit movie you will find on the cinema. And I loved it! So many characters and settings reminded me of other characters and settings from other books and movies and tv shows, and it just made me giddy. This book would have been my favorite if I read it when I was 15 or something, at 21 I couldn't feel the same butterflies. I'm jealous of y'all for reading it when you were a teenager! It must have been such a fulfilling and blissful experience. I'm gonna criticize some minor problems but nothing too serious. I don't want to ruin the jolly feeling this book gave me! Let's go!

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 main character's name is America Singer. America Singer. And guess what her profession is? A singer. SHOCKER! Honestly, guys, I laughed out loud when this name was mentioned. I couldn't help it. Also... my Greek people need to hear this. HER BROTHER'S NAME IS KOTA. AND HE'S A MALE. KOTA. Non-Greek people, listen out. Kota in Greek is an insult for Greek people. A funny one. A trashy one. Also, it's chicken. But mostly an insult. Kota means hen. But hen isn't an insult in English, obviously. I think. Correct me if I'm wrong. It's basically "bitch" in poultry form. The word has the same impact as bitch. Good talk. I'm still laughing at this name, and at the fact it's for a male character. I sent it to my friends and we all had a good laugh. I always laugh sending them weird things from books I read.

I'll talk about one more aspect I didn't like and then I'm done as I promised! I didn't find the world building too convincing. I feel like the story was too character and relationship driven, that the whole standpoint of the politics was unnecessary and redundant. I respected the castes derivative, it was unique and it mirrored so much our today's society, but she should have left it at that. She should have evolved the world more for it to be taken seriously, or slowed down on the teen drama factor. Which is the reason these books are so fun and lovable, the teen drama trashy YA aspect of them. So, yes, I don't need world building here!

Now onto... what I liked! I underestimated this book immensely. I truly thought the main character would be a shallow, superficial, dumb bitch, who only cared about the dresses and the fame and all that. A character like Celeste, you could say. But I was pleasantly taken aback. America is an incredible character. She is funny, sassy, independent, clever, uncompromising. A true role model and I'm rooting for her. She really cares about her family and puts herself in a tough (for her) position which also brings danger in physical form. I hope she sorts her shit out in her head, and chooses the best for her. (MAXON) Furthermore, I RELISHED in her relationship with her maids. I was delighted that she stood up for them, brought them to safety, fought for them. She showed how much of a Queen she can become.

I didn't enjoy ASPEN'S CHARACTER AT ALL. I feel like he's only with America for the physical stuff. And he's sneaky. I SEE YOU ASPEN. Something is going on. Why was he only happy the last three months, like his mum said, when he's been with America for two years? And, oh, so randomly, the girl fell and he caught her. By the waist, like couples hug intimately. COME ON! We all saw how quick he was at picking out a lie when her maids entered the room. The boy is a natural breed liar. Something is gonna be revealed in the next books. And I'm ready for it! I'M WATCHING YOU ASPEN 👀 👀 👀 👀 👀 #teamMaxon

MAXON. Guys. MAXON. HE'S SO CUTE AND FUNNY AND AWKWARD AND NOBLE AND DID I SAY CUTE AND SWOON SWOON. I kept picturing Max Irons as him. I don't know if I'm wrong. When I read books, I always picture actors or singers or whatever for the characters I like most. America was Bonnie Wright for me. Don't @ me. And let's continue with Maxon. MAXON. MY NEW FICTIONAL BAE CRUSH. COME TO MAMA BAE. I love him. I love him so much. He's so precious and he deserves love and respect and all the cookies in the world. I want to hug him. I want him to hug me with his gargantuan arms. The ones America likes. You know 😉

I cherished the relationship between all the Selected. At the begging, it was all so awkward and everyone was at forks with everyone, because of the competition. Only Marlee was genuine with America. I love how the women hate was vanished and how after all, aside the competition, they were there for each other. I want them to be united and strong in the next book, all six of them. I was sad to see the others go so suddenly, but you know they were too many to remember. I want the characters of these last remaining five girls to be explored more. I want to stan new people! Initially, I thought Marlee was sneaky. She was so nice and giving to America, it should have been a trap. With it all being a competition and everything. But I trusted her after a while, and now again I don't. She is hiding too much. Something's fishy here. And I don't like fish 🐟

The relationship between America and Maxon was a gigantic surprise to me. I thought they would meet, you know, classic shit, they would fall in love, he would find something special to her, she would rethink her past reflection of his character and blah blah blah. Which is how it happened but with an unorthodox way. A maverick way. Fucking Logan Paul. ANYWAY, the friends to lovers trope is one I'm never getting tired off. I'm a fanfic person, shoot me. I want them to end up together. They bring out the best in each other. They're funny, snarky, honest with each other. That's why a romantic relationship should start from a strong friendship first. I'm all for it, in real life too.

The point here is, ever since I joined Goodreads and watched lots of Bootube and basically joined the online book world, I'm very critical with books. I used to read exclusively for joy but now, it's almost gone. Ever since I started writing more serious reviews which included serious criticism, I started getting more picky. I would never rate a book with 2 stars a few months ago, but it happened. I don't want to do that with this series, though. I don't want to nitpick things to rant about. I want to enjoy them, like I enjoy all the good trash reality shit on my tv. I live for that stuff. I love tea being served ☕️ You all love reality shows and trashy movies, books and tv series. Come on, admit it. Some things are guilty pleasures. And they gives us glee. Like Glee. You're not funny, Maria, stop doing this shit 💩

This book gave me joy. This book filled my stomach with euphoria. I will certainly continue with the next book. In addition, I found randomly the unaired "the CW" pilot version of this book series. WTF WAS THAT??? WHY IS MAXON A PRICK? AND DARK-HAIRED?? WHY IS AMERICA BLONDE?? WHY IS THEIR MEETING SO DIFFERENT FROM THE BOOK??? WHAT IS HAPPENING............. I'm so so so so so happy beyond belief this wasn't picked up. This book deserves a good movie or tv show adaptation. AND I NEED IT! So... till the next one... K BYE!
Profile Image for Emily.
352 reviews133 followers
April 21, 2020
*An ARC was provided by HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review*

I don't usually go for books like this one, with the whole princess competition thing going on (actually I've never even started one because they don't look good), but let me tell you, this book is amazing.

I loved it. That's all I can say. It went right into the story, and I was hooked from page one. I just couldn't stop reading. The plot was AMAZING!! Does that make any sense to you? I probably didn't explain that right, but I did my best. :D

From page one America was in an interesting situation, what with getting Selected and having Aspen as a boyfriend. This book wouldn't have been anywhere near as good as it is if it didn't have the love triangle. I usually don't like books with it in them, but it totally worked for this one.
I love Maxon. He is totally misunderstood. He isn't stiff, aloof, mean. He's actually really sweet and CUTE.
The other side of the triangle is Aspen. I don't like him. The little slime-ball dumped America because she gave him some food then had the gal to come crying back to her. I hope she ends up with Maxon.
And, last but not least, I really liked America. The whole theme with her in the Selection was that she wanted to be herself, not someone fake, and I really like that. She's a very strong character and speaks her mind. Sort of like me. :P


Before I sign off I have to give a huge thanks to Kiera Cass (for answering all my messages and passing on my request for an ARC) and to HarperTeen for sending me a copy. THANKS!!!!!!

~Emily @ Emily's Crammed Bookshelf
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,447 reviews1,110 followers
April 1, 2020
I can never ever get enough of this series! To start off, I will say that I liked this book more than I thought I would. I was originally looking for a book for a reading challenge (needed blue covers) and just happened to see this at the library and figured it didn't look too bad and that I would just read it since nothing else was working. I have now read this four times since it came out. It has yet to tire for me.
It is hard to explain why I like it. It is a true guilty pleasure, fluffy kind or read with a hint of action and intrigue for future books in the series.
I will admit, the concepts are not very original. The ideas that this is in between The Bachelor and Hunger Games (in the dystopian sense) are fairly accurate, with heavy leanings on The Bachelor. The love triangle setting adds a bit extra to character complexity.
I will not say much on what the books is about. The summary already does that in itself in this book. The book is written from America's perspective and what I will say otherwise is what I thought. First, I must admit, I dislike the character names. Yes, I know the last names refer to what the person does, but the first names are horrid in my opinion. Yet the main thing is the writing style and pace. I literally laid down last night thinking I would read a few chapters. Next thing I knew, the sun would be rising soon and the book sat finished in my hands. I don't get that with many books anymore. This book made me giggle at times, and twitch in anticipation at others. It left me desperately craving the sequel. Wondering who she picks, or who Maxon picks, what is up with the other girls, etc.
So, while the concept is not original, the characters are interesting, and the story is written in a way that is easy to get wrapped up in it. I actually just put it back on hold at the library so I could skim through it once again before the next book comes out. I read it so fast I fear I might have missed things. I honestly had a hard time rating this. In the way in captured my attention once I started reading, and my desire to read it again I would normally say 5, but since it does lean SO heavily on the concept of The Bachelor. Which is interesting because apparently the author said she had either never heard of (or at least never seen) the show before writing this. Very clean, fun read. Time just flies while stuck in this book! So, I give this a 4 1/2.

As an audiobook, I feel Amy Rubinate does a fair job. Not a great job as some voices blend together but it is done enough where I can easily follow while working on light task projects. Yet not engaging enough to fully pull me back into this world of happiness the way I wish it would have.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,584 followers
November 9, 2021
1.5 stars

"I didn't want to be royalty. And I didn't want to be a One. I didn't even want to try."

Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, a girl who doesn't think she's pretty and has jackshit ambition is suddenly elevated to a Chosen One status. She gets to live a palace where she's waited on hand and foot as well as gets a makeover and pretty dresses. During her time, she slowly finds herself falling for a handsome boy in a position of power, but her heart is still with her scruffy low-class boyfriend back home.

Just when she's resigned herself to the knowledge that she'll never see him again, he suddenly crashes back into her shiny new life due military reasons. She finds herself torn between the two boys, torn between her old life and her new.

Sound familiar? Yup, it's Shadow and Bone.

To be fair, the whole rags-to-special-snowflake plot is commonplace in literature. But whereas Shadow and Bone had creative fantasy elements and the ending going for it, The Selection has precious few redeeming qualifies.

Our protagonist America Singer is dull, bordering on unbearable. Looking past the fact that she's named after her career like a Smurf, she's your typical YA heroine who doesn't think she's pretty (even though she totes is) and doesn't want to be special (even though she totes is).

I never got over the way she body-shamed her mother:

"For a Five, she was a little on the heavy side, which was odd. She wasn't a glutton, and it's not like we had anything to overeat anyways. Perhaps that's just the way a body looks after five children."

Someone pointed out to me this passage was supposed to illustrate the caste system and how the lower classes are always hungry, thus, thin. If it is though, it's a piss-poor way of showing it. What about something like, "The weight of birthing five children had taken a toll on my mother. She was heavier than most members in our caste, who looked perpetually starved from inadequate food." It invites us to sympathize with America's mother while communicating the caste issue.

The writing's largely to blame because it's shit. It's not awful, but it's too far from the neutral line to praise. Too many sentences start with "I", and it's overly simplistic and dotted with tells instead of shows (i.e. I knew she felt embarrassed for me, I knew she was sad, etc).

While there's thankfully less girl-hating than I expected, the Selection still features the typical Mean Popular Girl and has unnecessary commentary on cleavage and too much makeup. It emphasizes the "natural" look, which, when put together with the slut-shaming, inclines towards exclusion rather than celebration of self-love.

America's belief in a support system among her female competitors as opposed to war is a stroke of feminism I didn't anticipate, but it's overshadowed by the book's lack of other prominent female characters. When you really think about it, it's just another way to show off how sweet and special she is.

And I never thought I'd encounter a literary love interest I hated more than Jeb from Splintered, but here he is in all his "me man, you woman" caveman glory. Aspen is a flaming dickwad and can fall into a volcano for all I care. He literally says a man's job is to provide and then blows up at America because she dared to do something nice for him using her own earnings. There's also the whole leery domestic framework surrounding their relationship, like how she's the good wife in the kitchen and he's the breadwinner going out to bring home the bacon.

Because The Selection was published during YA's dystopian wave, it has to be a dystopian, with rebels and poverty and class differences. Aspen is basically Gale 2.0, the oldest and caretaker of his family. Yet it's heavily romance-focused.

I personally think the series would have worked better in a fantasy setting. To quote another review, dystopian is a genre that doesn't need to be fluffed up. The rebels have no impact on the plot at all. They pop up every now and then to remind readers that they exist, add some pointless tension, and then scuttle off without doing any real damage. The Hunger Games has its own "Selection" storyline, but managed to convey a thoughtful message on celebrity culture. The Selection has no such nuance.

World-building is non-existent, so maybe it wouldn't be a good idea to make The Selection a fantasy novel.

In the end, Gale 2.0 promises to fight harder for America (through very cheesy dialogue), hence, setting up the angsty love triangle in The Elite. Ultimately, The Selection is like reality TV. Inane, gossipy, and profoundly pointless.

But what did I expect from a book inspired by The Bachelor?

My review of The Elite
My review of The One
My review of The Heir
My review of The Crown
Profile Image for Lauren Suero.
107 reviews121 followers
December 4, 2013
Here's how this book should be marketed: Dystopian world meets 'The Bachelor'.....sort of.

NOT THE HUNGER GAMES. There's no fight to the death here.. just a bunch of young women vying for the heart of one very handsome prince.

Personally, I've been excited to read this book from day one of it's announcement. Say what you will about the cover, but holy heck is it gorgeous. If I wasn't so damn short, I'd totally rock that dress. The chance to become a princess? BESTILL MY 5 YEAR OLD HEART!

I loved the whole premise of the book. It was simple, clean and just an over all great book. America, the female lead, is strong but has her faults, as she tends to be a bit whiny. No character is ever perfect, which I am sure we will see further development of all 'The Selection' characters as the series progresses.

The CW has put together a pilot for 'The Selection' and I can't wait to see how they will translate this from book onto our TV screens. Ethan Peck as Prince Maxon... OH YES.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
December 26, 2019
i like my teenage dystopian dating competitions like i like my drama - catty, pointless, and OTT.

this is all of that and more. i never knew that a hunger games meets the bachelor crossover is the most ridiculously entertaining story that i needed in my life.

i know now how my mother feels when she watches her reality TV shows. lol.

4 stars
Profile Image for Ali Goodwin.
170 reviews17.1k followers
September 6, 2022
4.5 stars!! I LOVED this book and I am SO excited to start the sequel. The premise and the setting are so unique. I haven't read a dystopian book in so long. Plus the love triangle had my heart TORN. Overall, an absolute must read if you like YA, romance, and dystopian novels.
Profile Image for Sophie.
701 reviews139 followers
November 23, 2012
I have only one question, and that question is:

Last time I checked it was in the 3's. Something fishy is going on here...

This review also appears on The Dreaming Reader.

May I present to everyone The Hunger Games...Girlified!
Disclaimer: Despite the fact that I am drawing comparisons between the two, there is no way that this sad little novel (if it can even be called that) will ever match up to The Hunger Games.

Similarity #1: A "cutthroat" competition in which only one winner will be left standing.
Why It's Girlified: Instead of engaging in bloody struggles to the death, the girls instead compete by wearing prettier dresses, better makeup, and having etiquette. The closest they get to violence is when one bitch-slaps the other (which lasted one sentence). Then, I guess they just gossip each other to the death.

Similarity #2: A poor heroine who seems like an unfeeling douche in the beginning but somehow manages to endear herself to the public with her antics.
Why It's Girlified: America Singer (this name. I can't even.) is the most self-centered, weepy little twit I've ever read about. She does multiple things that would be considered horrible if others had done them, such as badmouthing the prince and throwing tantrums, but somehow the prince loves her and even wants to be her best friend, (because he's as stupid as she is, probably), and the public adores her.
This quote basically sum up her dazzling personality:

His black T-shirt was worn to threads in several places, just like the shabby pair of jeans he wore almost every day. If only I could sit and patch them up for him. That was my great ambition.

First selling off virginity, then this. This book is doing leaps and bounds for femininity, let me tell ya.

Similarity #3: The love triangle between the boy back home and the new boy whose personality the MC comes to know and adore.
Why It's Girlified: I can't make a decision between Aspen and Maxon. Why? Because I would rather make no decision at all. Neither of them have desirable qualities besides their broad shoulders and strong fingers. Cass needs to learn that just because the guys are hot doesn't mean they won't act like sticks of wood.

We have Aspen:
He ripped back my blankets in a move both graceful and violent.

I was internally screaming RAPE at this part. Love of my life or no, I don't want him ripping my sheets off me after I hesitated over answering whether or not I loved someone else.

We have Maxon:
He had his own smell, a mix of chemicals that burned out from him.

Do any of you find the fact that Maxon is toxic attractive? Because I don't.

Basically, what I'm saying is that this book has obvious aspects that come from The Hunger Games. However, it is also so girlified, teenybopperified, and altogether stupidified that these features have become almost unrecognizable. The writing is clumsy. It goes sort of like this:

Yesterday I brushed my teeth. I looked out my window and saw my boyfriend with his arms around another girl. Tears welled in my eyes. I smiled. I smiled again. I whisper-yelled at him. It took a while for me to rest, since I was so tired.

It's so painfully elementary that I wanted to slam my head against a tile.

Anyway. Please don't be like me, in that others' countless negative reviews weren't enough to convince you this book is utter crap. Because it is. Even the ending is crap. I might have been a bit more lenient if Cass had finished what she'd started this book for. I don't even get what the conflict was. And there was no anticlimactic finale. There was no climax AT ALL. The plot is just a straight, boring line to nowhere. There were some iffy mentions of rebels and America's doubts about Illéa (doesn't make any sense to me why that makes this a dystopian, but whatever), but that's all overshadowed by the pressing concern of getting the attentions of some prince who doesn't know jack about his own country but still manages to make spur-of-the-moment, groundbreaking decisions. Oh, and he claims to know nothing about girls and to be afraid of their crying, but he manages to say all the right things and bring them all into giggly puddles of goo? This is disgusting and unflattering. I'm sure I speak for most women when I say that not all of us are reduced into pathetic tear-streaked damsels because of some guy.

I tried to read this like a chick lit. I did. But I doubt even my swoony, easily convinced self would've liked this sappy bundle of badly written cliche.

My computer accidentally erased my previous review, which was already 3/4 written, which makes me hate this book even more.
Profile Image for Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️.
1,862 reviews30.1k followers
March 30, 2021
4 Stars...

...and trust that no one is surprised more than me.


This series has been sitting on my shelves with the pretty hardcover spine cover girls in pretty dresses just staring at me in judgment for years.

And I suppose I put off reading it for several reasons...

1) I just haven't been loving YA books for a while now. Especially the trope-y dystopian variety we were bombarded with for so long...this series being one of them.
2) I heard it was like The Bachelor, which I have no interest in, as well as reality TV in general, really...

In fact, I'm not even sure why I bought these.

But I digress and no one really cares anyway. After all, everyone else has already read these, right?

As most people have probably already mentioned, this book was like The Bachelor and Hunger Games had baby together...and no one is more surprised than me that I was basically a trash panda for it all.


But seriously, I picked this up on a whim last night and ended up reading the entire thing in one sitting.


It was fairly basic...and trope-y...and very 2012 YA.
All the things I don't usually love anymore.
But, you know what?

I don't even care.


And everyone needs a mindless fat angel sometimes.
Off to read the next one.
Profile Image for Hailey (Hailey in Bookland).
614 reviews87.8k followers
December 30, 2015
I really really was enjoying this until page 190 or so. Then Aspen came back and I HATE HIS CHARACTER UGH
He made America be all stupid and Maxon is so perfect just annoying.
I did enjoy the America and Maxon romance though.
It was a cute quick read!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Natverse.
479 reviews60 followers
July 21, 2017
NOTE: I want to remind readers that it is important to give all books a fair chance despite negative reviews and the author or their agent opening their mouth when they shouldn't. That being said, I have nothing personal against Kiera Cass and she seems like a lovely human being, but I really did not like this book. See linked article for agent's involvement in unpaid reviewer controversy.

Sentence: I sentence Kiera Cass to a season of The Bachelor in which everyone is selected to be dropped off on a deserted island and are made to fight to the death (until there is only one left). But then, as a prize, the survivor has to marry some asshole she may or may not like.

Review: I wasn't really blown away by the cover, although I'd love to twirl around in a dress that freaking huge.

It'd probably go down like this though:

But really, I was excited for this bizarre twist on dystopian caste systems and competing with each other (yet again). What I found, however, was a cheap imitation of The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor meets A Little Princess (competition against nation of numbers for prince's hand in marriage, but with a little homesick orphan-like story time/bonding in their boarding school the palace). I wasn't sure whether to be pissed I had wasted my time or just relieved I had found something else to read to cleanse my mind afterward.

I settled on being productively angry at the world, through a chart, which I made to compare The Hunger Games to The Selection.

See this awesome chart.

Don't get me wrong, there were plenty of things different between the two books. Mostly how America is a total fucking pushover (see idiot) and signed up to change her life for her boyfriend's piece of mind. Then when he wanted her back she realized she had to see the Selection through because she is doing it for herself. WHAT A LOAD OF HORSESHIT. Unless she's a gold digger, which might just be her reasoning. I do know she's a fucking narc though.

I have determined that America clearly doesn't know what the hell she wants, and needs to realize that if she is oh-so-good at giving the prince political advice, and is just as pretty as everyone claims she is, she needs to consider becoming a goddamn symbol of rebellion. Maybe even, heaven forbid, become a better person. Because that's where this is headed, isn't it? America: the symbol of freedom and rebellion. Now why does that sound familiar? Everything was so frakking predictable in this book.

Apparently the southerners are going to kill everyone in the palace before Maxon makes a decision. I won't stand for such tomfuckery. This series is seriously over in my head and I won't hear of it again, much like Kelly Keaton's Darkness Becomes Her (that one made me physically vomit).
Profile Image for She-who-must-not-be-named .
180 reviews1,241 followers
October 2, 2020
“I hope you find someone you can't live without. I really do. And I hope you never have to know what it's like to have to try and live without them.”

America Singer is an average sixteen-year-old who lives in the country of Illea, a remnant of the United States after World War III. Yep that's right, World War III! Illea is a weird monarchy which has a caste system ranging from One to Eight- One being very rich and Eight being very poor. America is sent an invitation to The Selection wherein thirty five girls are given the opportunity to stay in the palace and compete to win Prince Maxon's heart. America is reluctant to take part in it. And the reason is simple: Her family and her secret lover Aspen. But it turns out that she does agree to it finally, and leaves her home to live in the palace. Things start getting jarring there: One, America gets homesick and suffers a panic attack. Two, the palace is constantly attacked by rebels who find the government's measures unfair. Three, she has to put up with Celeste: a fellow participant and a total psychopath. Four, she is cluttered by her feelings for Prince Maxon and Aspen and soon, she must make a choice.

I found the blurb intriguing and I picked up this book to see what all the hype was about. To my surprise, I found the story just as intriguing.

The plot is fast-paced and the word-building is coherent.
The character portrayal is wonderful. I found a new love interest for myself in Prince Maxon! And the obtuse romance between the Prince and America is heartwarming.
The best part about America though is that she is herself. Which is more than what I can say for the other girls.

Celeste is like a perfect spoilsport that every story requires. Her cunningness made me narrow my eyes quite often.

I also love how the leads fall into something as simple as love but even that has adverse effects on political schemes.

The ending was quite abrupt, but I guess I'll just have to read the second book to find out more.

Overall, it is a gripping and an unputdownable read with a love triangle and slow-paced romances that will have you aching for more. Definitely a book that will capture your attention right from the get-go!

3.5 ⭐
February 14, 2021

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People have been asking me to review THE SELECTION for years. Years. But whenever a book gets this popular I tend to back off, because at that point, most of what needs to be said has been said - and by reviewers who are far more creative and hilarious than me. Case in point, I only just this year reviewed BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, and that ship sailed a looong time ago. But then my library got a copy of THE SELECTION, and I thought, "Why not? Let's give it a whirl." My friends' opinions are split pretty evenly on this book, with half shipping it and even participating in role-playing games about it, and the other half expressing a strong desire to use it for kindling in the fireplace.

So, what did I think? I have so much to say, it's hard to figure out where to start. I didn't like the book. Obviously. It didn't make me sizzle and pop with rage, although after reading it, I'm a little puzzled as to why it's so popular. Nearly every aspect of the book held some sort of flaw for me, from its stilted dialogue all the way up to its shelving as a dystopia.

Let's start with the genre itself. I'm a fan of dystopian fiction. When done properly, it can be an excellent way to highlight the flaws in a society by taking a reductio ad absurdum "what if?" scenario to show how our many excesses and our hidden or subtle cruelties can destroy us. THE SELECTION, on the other hand, is basically The Bachelor set in a very tame, very unfrightening "Hunger Games lite" universe. America, the heroine, lives in a bizarre version of the United States that has been invaded by both China and Russia, and is now called Illea after the general who saved the country and later became king...because reasons. For some reason, the United States has also become striated by a rigid caste system that starts with one (royalty) and ends in eight (homelessness). I was trying to figure out the professions that went with this system, because one of the girls who works on the farm is a four, manual laborers (like movers) are six, and America's family, a bunch of performers and musicians, are fives. This seemed weird to me for several reasons, but the one I'm going to get into now is that performing arts are an activity of leisure generally associated with those who are middle to upper class. Why? Music lessons cost a lot of money. Instruments are expensive. Practicing costs time - time that would be spent doing other things, like having a part-time job. Who are their family's clients? What do those numbers mean? If this is a criticism of society, it would be nice if what it is criticizing had been laid out better, and if those being oppressed by the system actually seemed to feel some sort of real pressure or fear.

Poverty itself is a bit mysterious here, too. America is supposed to be fairly poor. At one point, she tells the prince that she has had to choose between food and electricity. But she doesn't seem to be hungry or desperate. In fact, she saves most of her meals for her poor six boyfriend, Aspen, and manages to do this without fainting. I might be more convinced by her plight if she got her clothing from the garbage of twos and threes, or if she often walked around feeling dizzy and sick. But no, she seems quite comfortable - enough to be flippant about her position. If she's that poor, why would she have fashionable dresses (albeit from an outmoded season) that don't have any rips or tears? Why can she afford makeup? Makeup is freaking expensive, and yet another thing that is often associated with the upper classes. This is the most gilded example of "poverty" that I have ever read about!

Gender roles in this book are another aspect of this book that felt very strange. Obviously, if you have thirty-five girls fighting over a boy there's going to be girl-on-girl hate. I didn't sign up for this book thinking I was going to get a feminist treatise on why you don't need a man in your life to be validated as a person. But at the same time, the sheer number of "boys are this way" and "girls are this way" stereotypes was a little surprising. And while the thought did occur to me that this could be part of the "critique" of this dystopian society, it really didn't feel that way to me. America, our heroine, dishes out some of these gender role stereotypes while instructing Maxon on how to treat women. One of the first things she tells him is that women don't want you to fix their problems when they cry, they just want to be consoled. And in the beginning of the book, Aspen breaks up with America because he's angry that she's been saving money for him, because - and he actually says this - men are supposed to be the providers, not women. America totally buys it! She feels bad. At one point, while contemplating her future with Aspen, she actually says: "If only I could sit and patch [up his shirt and jeans] for him. That was my great ambition."

I will give the author props for attempting to write a decent male lead. This was written when junior alphas were popular, and I think Cass really tried to write a decent beta hero with Prince Maxon. Again, props for the effort...but it wasn't a successful one. Maxon mostly just comes across as wishy-washy and bland. Originally, I gave THE PRINCE - the part where he meets America, except written in his POV - a two-star rating, but I deducted it, because apart from just being a POV-swapped rehashing of the events in this book, Maxon's head is a terribly dull place to be. When he's not dull, he's affected and smarmy. In THE PRINCE, his fear is that he'll fall in love with all the girls and won't be able to choose just one. He calls them all "my dear," and says this quote at one point: "You are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest."

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the dearest of them all?

In my review of the "prequel" to this book, THE PRINCE, I expressed a desire for some trashy reality TV style entertainment in THE SELECTION. I didn't pick this up expecting Nicholas Nickleby, but I did expect to be entertained. I'm not above watching reality TV or soap operas, and I was hoping at the very least that the girl-on-girl fights would be colorful or interesting, with catty but funny insults, hair pulling, and even some well-executed social coups a la Sae from Peach Girl (my favorite two-faced witch-with-a-B, hands-down). But no, one of the rules of THE SELECTION is that girls are expressly forbidden from sabotaging or striking one another, or they will be disqualified. Somebody does actually get slapped in this book, but the slapper gets disqualified and nothing comes of it. Someone's dress gets torn, too, but only a sleeve - and nothing comes of it. The sexually confident girls are universally loathed by America and everyone else, and some catty remarks are made, but it's all very G-rated, and, again, nothing comes of it.

This is what passes for drama in this book:

"That was it. I slapped him. "You idiot!" I whisper-yelled at him. "I hate him! I loved you! I wanted you; all I ever wanted was you!"


Ironically, the YA books I read before and after this one were very similar concepts that did it better. The one before was Amy Ewing's THE JEWEL - which actually suffered many of the same problems: odd gender roles, bad world-building, girls competing for a "honorable" role that is actually mired in sexism (in one, decorative wife, in the other, surrogate to rich women). The difference is that THE JEWEL was not afraid to be dark. It was no 1984, but at least I got the sense that there was real oppression in this world and dire consequences for those who flaunted it. The book I read after this one was THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen, which is similar in the sense that it has a bunch of commoners competing to fulfill a "royal" role. The difference is that a) it's all boys and b) failure means death, so the competitors have more than enough motivation to do well. I think that's what I expected going into THE SELECTION: I expected more hunger, more desperation, with a heroine who had to choose between love and death in a world of darkness. Instead, I got someone who thinks poverty is only getting to wear makeup when you go out and drama is having the sleeve of your dress half-heartedly ripped off when you refuse to swap outfits.

My intention was to read through the series and see if it picked up like THE JEWEL did, but it looks like my library has copies of every book in this series except book TWO. I'm not about to skip a book, because I might miss something important (wink), so it looks like I dodged a literary bullet. I'm in no particular hurry to dive back into this world and find out what happens to Maxon and Aspen and America, either. Who will she choose? What will she wear? Who will be queen? (Listed in descending order of importance, obviously.) Look, I get the fascination with royalty. Disney princesses, Kate Middleton, The Princess Diaries. It's a position of incredible power that seems feminine but isn't intimidating. Ask most little girls what they want to be when they grow up, and I'm sure a fair amount of them will say "princess." Capitalizing on that, and using it for social commentary? Brilliant. There was a great idea buried somewhere in here, that could have been used to highlight gender stereotypes, misogyny, double-standards, social inequality, and reality TV. There were dozens of possibilites! But making the U.S. a constitutional monarchy of a caste system that feels like a learn-to-count episode of Sesame Street while everyone twirls around in ball gowns probably wasn't the best way to go about it. But that's just my opinion.

1 star
Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.7k followers
May 11, 2020
I'm giving this two stars because it didn't make me actively angry but it might change to 1 star after further consideration; we will see.

First off, I never had any intention of reading this book. I heard about the series in it's hayday, and it never appealed to me. However, we picked it for this month's House Salt Book Club with the recent announcement of the adaptation and because we wanted something quick and easy for this month. So I went into this with very low expectations and tried my darnedest to not be too judgmental.

However, that was just not possible. This book is so readable/bingeable/whatever term you want to use because barely anything happens! The book is described as "dystopian Bachelor", but we don't even really get to see that process. It takes a significant chunk of the book before America even gets to the Selection and then it's just a series of conversations (mostly boring) with Maxon, sometimes interrupted by "rebel invasions". The book tries to make the rebel invasion plot interesting.... but it isn't. It's plain that the dystopian world is thrown together just to provide a backdrop for the Bachelor setting but then we don't even get to see that!

I was prepared to hate America more than I did, because I know she is loathed. I didn't hate her because she is so bland. The book beats you over the head with how normal, kind, and unassuming America is. Oh, except, of course she's beautiful and just doesn't see it. She doesn't care about ~makeup~ or anything else like ~other girls~. She has very strong "not like other girls" energy. She is critiquing most of the other girls throughout the story, and only finds value in the other girls if they are "nice." The other girls have no personality and there is no sense of real friendship, as much as the book tries to convince the reader that there is. The only character with personality is Celeste, and she is the classic mean girl.

The love triangle could be compelling if either of the boys HAD A PERSONALITY! I do not understand how we had an entire book of characters with no defining traits (except apparently Aspen smells like homemade soap and Maxon smells like "a mix of chemicals" -- yes, the book made me read that as if it is a masterful description). Maxon is painfully naive about women. He calls every one of them "my dear" (*gag*) and gets uncomfortable when they cry. Ok.... Then Aspen worries about not being "man enough", tells her to join the Selection, and then gets upset when she does well. It's a mess y'all. To be fair, I hate The Bachelor, so trying to make me pull for a guy in that setting is an uphill battle. But I have to believe that this could have been interesting if the men at least slightly were. Why do any of these people like each other?? No one will ever know.

It's obvious that the book and series is setting up Maxon and America to be together. She's shown to be the perfect queen, caring in ways no one else will. Totally different than ~other girls~. So that takes away any tension of "will they, won't they." So what happens? How does this get dragged out into 3 books (with two more with their kids??) I don't know and don't really care to find out.

I do think the adaptation could be better, as we'd hopefully see more of the Selection and more action. Dystopian adaptations tend to flesh out the worlds to make them more interesting. So I'd be willing to give this adaptation a chance. But the series? No, I will not be continuing.

Ok I'm changing my rating to 1 star...
Profile Image for Kate.
315 reviews
April 29, 2017
The Selection by Kiera Cass

Ahhh, I loved this book sooo much, and I completely see the hype!!

Although most of this book was quiet predictable, that didn't even matter because all the other amazing qualities of this book outshone that!
Kiera Cass seems like such a cute and lovely person, so I'm so happy I loved her book!
I cannot wait to continue on with this series, I'm totally Team Maxon people!! Hahaha,
I loved the setting, characters, plot, romance, just awesome!

Another side note: It was such a fun experience reading this alongside my cousin! Buddy reading actually worked for me for once, woo!
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