Wendy Darling's Reviews > The Selection

The Selection by Kiera Cass
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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. (view spoiler)

Bachelor-like Elements: Contestants vying for a "perfect" guy. Appearance fees. Contracts. Gossiping. Sabotage. Tears. Eliminations. Television specials. Icky elements. (view spoiler) 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.

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Reading Progress

November 5, 2011 – Shelved
January 5, 2012 – Started Reading
January 6, 2012 –
page 25
7.44% "I can already tell that it's going to take heroic effort on my part to finish this book."
January 12, 2012 –
page 168
50.0% "I think it's time to admit this just isn't gonna happen."
January 12, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 201-250 of 1,787 (1787 new)

message 201: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Incredible review, Wendy. Quotes that give badness a whole new dimension.

Am I the first to take this pledge? "I solemnly swear that I will never again judge a book by its cover".

message 202: by Devyani (new) - added it

Devyani The amount of comments which have been up and active in my notifications ..shows two things ->

1.Looks can be deceiving and that this book just upgraded the above words .

2.your review is Awesome :D

message 203: by Wan (new)

Wan Insightful review Wendy. I added this to my TBR pile weeks ago just because of the cover. Unfortunately, the book seems like the girls are being objectified. (view spoiler)

Wendy Darling Thanks everybody. This really was kind of a doozy, I'm glad the review is helpful. I could have pulled out soooo many more quotes, as you can probably imagine.

S. Bell wrote: "Or, you know, just go with Mary Sue and be done with it *grins* "


Erin: "Silly" came to mind a lot as I was reading this, too. Along with "superficial" and a whole bunch of other adjectives, although I tried to restrain myself in the review.

Rachel: This really isn't a very romantic book, which is weird considering it's all about dating a prince.

Lisa O.: I linked the commercial in the spoiler just for you. But please don't judge our entire country for it.

Amber J.: Nooooooo!

Jim: I am afraid I fall for a pretty cover far too often, even though I know better. *hangs head*

Devyani: hah. Sorry if your feed's been bombarded. I think a lot of people probably just identify with the cover fraud feeling.

Katie: I'm glad you enjoyed it better than I did. Not every book is going to satisfy everybody, so this is just my perspective for those who might factor that in if they're thinking about buying the book.

message 205: by Jessica-Robyn (new)

Jessica-Robyn When I first saw the names "America" and "Aspen" in a semi-dystopian-competition book, my brain jumped to the thought that it could be a combination of The Bachelor and the board game Risk. :P

Side not, I'm really starting to dislike books being written for a genre instead of for the story. There is no half-way with genre writing, you have to either grab on or let go.

message 206: by Devyani (new) - added it

Devyani i give up . i think i'm going to die laughing hysterically by reading several other comments made by many which i totally agree with :D

well it would be a first , don't ya think ?

'girl gets attacked by Stomach cramps due to excessive laughing and snorting (yes i snorted a LOT of times)and finally dies , all because of a book-version of an evil queen' .
(you know the sort of queen who looks pretty and is very old and asks the mirror everyday about how pretty she truly is but basically is an ugly witch , not that i'm comparing this book to it because it would be unfair as i haven't even read the book but fingers are fingers and they just don't seem to stop. :P )

okay now i'm going to stop .

message 207: by Erin (new)

Erin ahaha.

That quote section just slayed me.

message 208: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim I am afraid I fall for a pretty cover far too often, even though I know better. *hangs head*

It's okay, Wendy. We all have those things that we fall for, even though we know better. At least half of all literature is based on that very idea, no?

Rida (Raindrop Reflections) OH MY GOSH.

Another disappointment. WHY MUST YOU BE SO PRETTY, COVER? I wish authors would write real, makes-sense dystopians instead of love stories that they think will appeal to teenagers. Judging from the quotes, I, the target audience, am not impressed.

message 210: by Donna (new)

Donna The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games sounds like an awesome idea, too bad it didn't deliver.

Wendy Darling Jessica-Robyn wrote: "When I first saw the names "America" and "Aspen" in a semi-dystopian-competition book, my brain jumped to the thought that it could be a combination of The Bachelor and the board game Risk. :P"

Hah. And I completely agree with the genre thing. I think this would've worked much better just as a straightforward fairy tale, although dystopians are the "thing" these days.

Devyani, my friends, and the comments on this thread, are amazing.

Erin, Elena--I thought those quotes would do it for a lot of people.


I'm disappointed in this, Donna. :( But goes without saying other people may like it better.

message 212: by Diana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Diana Thanks so much for your honest review! Like yourslef, I LOVED that cover (would love to go to a party like that). I think I'll skip this one....

M3tamorphasis11 ok in all fairness that is a nice cover, but I think that she is infront of a three way mirror. Regardless, it looks like where ever she is going, will be a fun place to be. :)

Clarissa I like knowing what to stay away from, thanks

message 215: by Cassy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Cassy You know, I was interested in the book (cuz WOW that cover) until you started quoting the book.

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

He smelled like his mother's homemade soup

Really? Who comes up with crap like that?

message 216: by Regina (new)

Regina LMAO, I love this element, "lack of makeup." <----- this clearly makes it dystopian! LOL. Those poor girls!

And this element, "I whisper-yelled at him" This alone makes me never want to read it.

message 217: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha I'm so glad I wasn't even tempted to read this book haha. I've been suckered by a pretty cover before too, don't feel bad. Way to cut your losses and run!

message 218: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Kelley Cassy wrote: "You know, I was interested in the book (cuz WOW that cover) until you started quoting the book.

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

He s..."

..............THE ACTUAL HELL?

message 219: by Limonessa (new) - added it

Limonessa Thanks for the commercial link, I can't really judge you guys, each country has its idiotic ones after all :D

message 220: by Shannon (new) - rated it 1 star

Shannon "He smelled like his mother's homemade soup."


message 221: by Lexie (new) - added it

Lexie The pretty cover should've clued us in. Publishers had to give it a pretty wrapping to hide the shittiness inside.

message 222: by JJ. (new)

My reaction to every quote from this book that I've read so far (in your review as well as in 5 star reviews).

message 223: by Desperado (new)

Desperado "I hate him! I loved you! I wanted you; all I ever wanted was you!"

O_O This is a quote from a Kelly Clarkson or Ka-dollar sign-ah song. Or maybe it's Satan Bieber's song. I don't know. But it sucks as lyrics & worse as something a supposedly sane person would say.

Great review. I am now immune to the "come hither" looks this book has been giving me.

Wendy Darling Regina, I think the rationing of makeup thing was on like page 3. Not too far into the book, at any rate.

It's terrible, Lisa, those commercials encouraged even more widespread bad grammar.

THT, Cill--now that there's all this focus on the soup, I suddenly had a panic about that quote. I had the book beside me and lifted it as I was typing this review, but I had to ship it off today so I can't doublecheck it. I'm almost certain I was right, but I emailed the next person to make sure I didn't accidentally misread it. :(

Jen...IIII know. That's an awesome gif, btw.

Thanks Lethal--the quotes really do speak for themselves, don't they?

And I already got my first "you gave this such a bad review without finishing the book???" on my blog, so that's just lovely. It's so mature. The comments were suspiciously similar to the ones Katie left for me here on message 226. Who seems to have an account created specifically to promote this book, btw. http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/60...

message 225: by [deleted user] (new)

Awkward quotes be awkward.

Wendy Darling Hana Joy...yeah.

I hope I'm not wrong about that quote, Cillian, I'd feel really bad about misquoting it. It's true that there's plenty of other quotes there to contemplate, though.

I really should just delete the comment on the blog, Cillian; you're always telling me to do these things and I should listen to you. *sigh* There's just no reasoning with people, it seems. Sometimes I really want to point out that in writing a review like mine, I've actually prevented much, much more vicious reviews from being written, because I soften my language quite a bit and try to stay polite. But sock puppet accounts are sock puppet accounts, you know? Whatever.

Wendy Darling What does "towanda" mean? It's been a long time since I've seen that movie.

This person commented yet again. It's interesting she seems so invested in this book, doesn't it? I'm going to start to get rude if she doesn't stop commenting on my blog.

message 228: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel Thanks for the review Wendy. Another case of the cover being too good to be true, huh? Maybe we need to find books with ugly covers and maybe the insides might have some substance. I think I might still try this one, to make my own judgement, but perhaps from the library. Although the quotes you provided don't exactly inspire confidence.

Julianna Helms 1) *sobs* WHY must cover fraud ruin our lives?! I think I'm going to try and get an ARC of this (though I doubt I'll succeed, LOL)... I mean, if nothing, just for the darn cover... (view spoiler)
2) Oh no, a troll? Trolling on YOU, Wendy!? =.=

3) My reaction to the quotes (surprisingly, the soup thing didn't bother me too much. Oh man, does that mean I've read WORSE? O.O)

message 230: by Wendy Darling (last edited Dec 18, 2013 11:27PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Wendy Darling I am really freaking tired of authors and friends of authors and employers of authors behaving badly. STOP TROLLING REVIEWS OF YOUR BOOKS. You are doing more damage to your reputation than I ever could.

Edited 12/18/13 to add:

Those interested may find out more information on how publishing this review affected me below.

Breaking the Silence: The Selection Debacle
Moving On, and Thank You

message 231: by Shannon (new) - rated it 1 star

Shannon -___-

Wendy Darling This is no different than my going onto an author's blog and telling them they have no right to write worthless drivel, and then calling her names in public.

You know what kills me? I never even needed to mention the fact that I didn't finish the book, because no one would ever have known based on my review. But I'm up front about it because I think it's important to be, and people can take it or leave it for what that's worth.

message 233: by Steph (new)

Steph UGH. NOT AGAIN. I will never read this. I wasn't as put off by the quotes you posted but now seeing this I will absolutely never read it. These authors keep doing themselves a huge disservice by acting this way.

message 234: by Mariya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariya wow. 8/

Julianna Helms WHAT did they just call you?

Oh my gods no. No. No no no no no no. *tries to calm down* *fails*

message 236: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm going to go rant, brb kittehs.

message 237: by Mariya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariya It's always the users with the faceless profile pic, isn't it? I'm not a fan of this behavior like EVER!!!

message 238: by Mariya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariya Hana❦Joy wrote: "What a pathetic piece of SHIT. I'm sorry, but if I see one more thing like that I am going to lose it. I'm actually going to track them down and punch them in the FACE. UGGGGHHHH!!!!"

YEAH! You go, Hana! I'll totally back you up!

message 239: by Shannon (new) - rated it 1 star

Shannon Lol @ "quietly ask some friends to also"

Are you kidding me?

This is just so monumentally stupid.

Sharon ∞❥ is an emotional book junkie ❥∞ what in the heck is going on Wendy?? im sorry u have to go through this and i value ur reviews.

BUT i will NOT read this book based on the immature attitude of the author(if that is her)....What is up w/these authors? Do they think because they have actually written a book and had it published that they can say and do whatever they want?? Im really shocked! and bashing Goodreads on top of that...blasphemy!!

message 241: by Wendy Darling (last edited Jan 13, 2012 10:30PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Wendy Darling This behavior is absolutely inexcusable. If authors want to take advantage of marketing tools like GoodReads and blogs and Twitter, they'd better smarten up pretty damned fast about etiquette and protocol and common sense and accept the responsibilities that come with them.

I'm sorry, Mariya, I know you liked this book, but this author's associate has crossed the line and made it extremely personal.

Chelsea Oh no they didn't. How unprofessional. Now that really makes me NOT want to read it! Everyone is entitled to their own opinions! Not everyone was going to like the book for heaven's sake! That is so high school. Argh ANNOYING.

message 243: by Mariya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariya I totally don't blame you Wendy. I'd have to count the number of times this has happened to me on my fingers. UGH! I think my GR buddies scared them off though. It's always good to have backup! :)

And that was on your blog?! SO NOT COOL!!!

message 244: by Shannon (new) - rated it 1 star

Shannon Wendy Darling wrote: "This behavior is absolutely inexcusable. If authors want to take advantage of marketing tools like GoodReads and blogs and Twitter, they'd better smarten up pretty damned fast about etiquette and protocol and common sense and accept the responsibilities that come with them."

I can't believe they've said this about you, of all people.

I'm ... flabbergasted.

message 245: by [deleted user] (new)

DONE! I would type more but I ran out of space...

message 246: by Sans (new)

Sans The Holy Terror wrote: ""He smelled like his mother's homemade soup."


That was my exact reaction to that quote as well.

message 247: by Mariya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariya I think all books need BOTH NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE REVIEWS. I mean just b/c someone didn't like your book, doesn't mean you have to get all like that! Just walk away and leave it alone. jeeeeshh. That kinda of behavior I totally hate!

Julianna Helms The Holy Terror wrote: "I can't believe they've said this about you, of all people."

Right?! Why Wendy? Why Wendy?

message 249: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 13, 2012 10:36PM) (new)

"@ElanaRoth Are you kidding me? How old are you, may I ask? Because from what I gathered, you seem like a five year old. " That what I might tweet to this... This... *tries not to stoop to their level*

message 250: by Mariya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariya @Hana: you totally should!

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