Natalie Monroe's Reviews > The Selection

The Selection by Kiera Cass
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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
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Reading Progress

September 11, 2014 – Shelved
September 11, 2014 – Shelved as: never-ever-ever-reading-this
September 11, 2014 – Shelved as: way-to-shoot-yourself-in-the-foot
August 3, 2017 – Started Reading
August 3, 2017 –
1.0% ""I looked over at my 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."

Oh my God. You are not body-shaming your OWN MOTHER."
August 4, 2017 –
13.0% "I am now firmly Team Maxon—even though he's barely had any scenes—purely because Aspen is a fucking caveman. "I man, I provide. You woman, you stay home and cook."

"
August 5, 2017 –
67.0% ""Maxon let out a breath I didn't realize he was holding."

Uh, what?"
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: backstabbing-n-gossip
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: cheesy-cheesy-cheesy
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: dishonor-on-your-cow
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: feminist-but-not-really
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: hate-the-characters-hate-the-book
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: i-spy-something-pointy
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: my-what-a-coincidence
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: not-worth-the-hype
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: protagonists-i-want-to-laser-face
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: slut-shaming
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: typical
August 5, 2017 – Shelved as: worst-story-element-mashups
August 5, 2017 – Finished Reading
September 17, 2017 – Shelved as: the-earth-is-flat

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)

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kath!! lol


message 2: by Rose (new)

Rose Can't wait for your review, Natalie!


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Thanks Natalie. After debating it for months and reading your review, I've finally taken it off my want to read list. I think you've probably just saved me from a DNF.


Ashlynn 😂😂 Never looked at it like that.


Gulcea "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. " 👆🏼👆🏼👆🏼 Sooo true. The dystopian part of the story was so forced, I wish it was just a romance novel without any other genres. I am sure much more people would enjoy it as a historical fiction/romance.


Jenny I cannot even begin to tell you how accurately you have described this book and series as a whole. It's incredibly angsty and annoying as a whole, but I do think there's improvement with each book. So, maybe there's something to be gained from finishing the series, even if you can only stand one character. Only first three books because the last 2 are completely pointless add-ons that were created to milk more money.


Drew Haha, I love your review! You nailed everything, even though I really enjoyed this book because it felt like watching badly-written, addictive TV.


Natalie Monroe @Kelly Glad I could help!

@Ashlynn and Drew It just wasn't for me. XD

@Gulcea Right??

@Jenny I sort of want to read the last two because I'm interested in how an all-male Selection would be like.


message 9: by Inge (new)

Inge DID I MENTION I LOVE CYNICAL NATALIE. I also can't believe you found a love interest more frustrating than Jeb. Aspen sounds like a true fuckwit.


Jenny Natalie wrote: "@Kelly Glad I could help!

@Ashlynn and Drew It just wasn't for me. XD

@Gulcea Right??

@Jenny I sort of want to read the last two because I'm interested in how an all-male Selection would be like."


Let me get real for a second here, I read all five books and I don't regret it (on most days anyway). It's not the absolute worst thing in the world, but honestly, the all male selection is not drastically different than the all female selection. I will say that the last two books aren't too long if you do decide to read them. However, the MC is almost intolerable at times. She matures, but eh, it felt forced.


Mizuki despite of my dissatisfaction with Shadow and Bone. I will still jump to it for my dear life, if The Selection is on the other end.


message 12: by Shelby (new) - added it

Shelby Suderman Lol I've just started Shadow and Bone but I've read The Selection (stopped at book 1 cuz I've heard it's the best but I've weirdly been thinking of picking up book 2 lately). So I'm reading fantasy The Selection right now? Lol. I'm not that far yet.


Natalie Monroe @Inge Mal from Siege and Storm comes a close second. XD

@Jenny Oh God. I'll likely read them anyway because it'll be from the "prize"'s perspective and I'd to see how Cass handles it, for better or worse.

@Mizuki Shadow & Bone is miles better. I didn't like it, but I prefer it over The Selection.

@Shelby The Shadow & Bone series gets better with each book. And Six of Crows is amazing.


message 14: by Shelby (last edited Aug 09, 2017 12:03AM) (new) - added it

Shelby Suderman Natalie wrote: "@Inge Mal from Siege and Storm comes a close second. XD

@Jenny Oh God. I'll likely read them anyway because it'll be from the "prize"'s perspective and I'd to see how Cass handles it, for better o..."


I binged the Six of Crows duology a couple weeks ago (loved both so much!) and now I'm on the Grisha trilogy to compare. I'm liking it so far.


Sarah Yes, someone else who hates both Aspen and Jeb! *high five*


Natalie Monroe Sarah wrote: "Yes, someone else who hates both Aspen and Jeb! *high five*"

*Turns it into a cool guy handshake*


Sarah Natalie wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Yes, someone else who hates both Aspen and Jeb! *high five*"

*Turns it into a cool guy handshake*"


XD


message 18: by Jodi (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jodi Absolute yes to everything. I wanted to like this book, because a friend was raving about it (giving said friend the side-eye for any future book recommendation). After all the idiocy, the ending was really the frosting of the crap cake - there wasn't one. Clearly the original manuscript was waaaay too long and so they sliced it into reasonable chunks without bothering to make the first book feel like it finished. Like at all.


Natalie Monroe Jodi wrote: "Absolute yes to everything. I wanted to like this book, because a friend was raving about it (giving said friend the side-eye for any future book recommendation). After all the idiocy, the ending w..."

They needed to create TENSION to sucker you into buying the sequel.


Talia (Red Hot Ink) Great and detailed review, Natalie. I haven’t read it but have always been curious. Thanks for saving me the pain! Asshole heroes and dull heroins are not what I look for in books. Xoxo


Natalie Monroe Talia (Red Hot Ink) wrote: "Great and detailed review, Natalie. I haven’t read it but have always been curious. Thanks for saving me the pain! Asshole heroes and dull heroins are not what I look for in books. Xoxo"

Thanks!


message 22: by Celly (new)

Celly I love this review. The Selection was just so ridiculous to read, I don´t understand all the love for it. Also "i-spy-something-pointy" is probably the most amazing name for a shelf I´ve ever read :D


Natalie Monroe Celly wrote: "I love this review. The Selection was just so ridiculous to read, I don´t understand all the love for it. Also "i-spy-something-pointy" is probably the most amazing name for a shelf I´ve ever read :D"

Right? It's probably the covers, which I grudgingly concede are gorgeous. And thanks!


message 24: by Z1 (new) - rated it 1 star

Z1 Honestly? I wasn't even going to read it after the whole thing with Keira Cass's editor and Wendy Darling but I saw it in the library and picked it up. I regret it.


message 25: by Z1 (new) - rated it 1 star

Z1 Whoops, just realized I spelled Kiera wrong. Whatever, no point in memorizing how to spell an author's name if their books are bad.


Natalie Monroe Z1 wrote: "Whoops, just realized I spelled Kiera wrong. Whatever, no point in memorizing how to spell an author's name if their books are bad."

Preach.


—rhea I personally like the first 3 books since I felt like reading romance novels for a while. But I hated and I mean absolutely HATED the 4th and 5th book, their daughter didn't know what the hell true love was and married an absolute pancake. I cried after reading The Crown not because it was sad but beacause she married a fricken idiot! I dont know really what to say I felt I could tolerate America's POV more than Eadlyn's POV becayse Eadlyn's stupid (No wonder Illea didn't wan't her to be queen) and completly blind. I'm gonna stop now because I am going to go full out book nerd right now.


Natalie Monroe Rhea wrote: "I personally like the first 3 books since I felt like reading romance novels for a while. But I hated and I mean absolutely HATED the 4th and 5th book, their daughter didn't know what the hell true..."

"Married an absolute pancake" is my new favorite insult. XD


Victoria Yep. I agree with those points totally! It's so sad that the book is so full of A. Cliches, and B. features that aren't really important at all and C. a main character who is the stereotypical "special" girl. I'm still going to read the whole series as a whole because after all, my roommate is borrowing them to me and I've already started the series. I can't just stop it now, I mean I suppose I could but I don't wish to break my poor roommate's heart, her heart that loves this book series with all her heart.

Anyways, great review!


Natalie Monroe Victoria wrote: "Yep. I agree with those points totally! It's so sad that the book is so full of A. Cliches, and B. features that aren't really important at all and C. a main character who is the stereotypical "spe..."

I get you. Sometimes I push on with a series even if I hate it just to please a friend. XD


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