Clair's Reviews > The Selection

The Selection by Kiera Cass
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it was ok
bookshelves: reviewed, fiction

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass Apparently every little girl dreams of being a princess. The idea being that Prince Charming comes from a little country you’ve never heard of and woos you with his eloquent parlance, snappy dress sense, and amiable personality. He might also be cursed and looking for the kiss of true love.
Still, cursed or not, Prince Charming archetypes have existed for as long as fairytales and Disney movies have perpetuated. It also seems that a lot of girls don’t really grow out of wanting their own gorgeous foreign prince to carry them off in a flurry of rose-petals and heavily-accented sweet nothings whispered into their ears. How else do you explain the success of film and book series like The Prince and Me and The Princess Diaries?
Now this tried and tested formula is going to dip its toe into YA’s current darling – a dystopian world where our heroine does not have the freedom to love who she chooses. (Basically 90% of Disney movies, where our heroine learns she should marry for love and not for money or prestige.) Then add in a pinch of horrendous reality TV like America’s Next Top Model, and you’ve got The Selection by Kiera Cass. This should truly be a match made in heaven, right?
For a dystopian novel to work, its society has to be completely horrible. Going with the classics, 1984‘s Airstrip One has the thought police and the threat of going into Room 101. There’s also the stifling World State in Brave New World, and the ultra conservative Republic of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale.
With YA dystopian novels, we have the authorities in The Hunger Games punishing political dissenters by cutting out their tongues and forcing them into slavery. And in Delirium by Lauren Oliver, those whose actions go against the status quo are taken off to be imprisoned and ‘corrected’, and are then erased from society proper.
Those are just some examples off the top of my head, and generally my personal benchmarks for dystopian novels, be they YA, fantasy, science fiction, classic literature, whatever.
So why do I feel that the setting of this novel should have just been a fantasy kingdom with a modern twist, rather than a dystopia? The dystopian elements are so sparsely mentioned that it feels like the author only added them in to appeal to the Hunger Games crowd.
Society in Illéa works like this. The United States is now a monarchy, and it has a very rigid caste system in place. Your caste number goes from One (extremely wealthy and aristocratic) to Eight (living in extreme poverty, and working menial jobs).
Our main heroine, America Singer (who just so happens to have great vocal talent… *rolls eyes*) lives in a family ranked Five. Her boyfriend Aspen’s family are Sixes, and generally quite disadvantaged compared to America’s family. But who cares about that when Aspen is the kind of guy who’ll arrange romantic trysts in the tree-house, lay his head on your lap while you sing to him, and let you feed him your leftovers, like some big adorable puppy.
Also, apparently if you have children out of wedlock or don’t go through the lengthy legal procedures to get married to your ideal partner, you get sent to prison. …Okay, then. I’m still not getting any vibes of dystopian horror, really, just a strict, conservative society… oh wait, it’s mentioned that one of Aspen’s brothers was beaten up by a police officer for stealing food the other day. Well, this might be the first novel I get to baptise with the shelf title ‘Drive-By Dystopia’. I hope it enjoys that honour!
Also, all of this dystopian exposition is only explained to us in the first couple of chapters, and scattered piecemeal throughout the rest of the novel. Ugh.
So what is ‘The Selection’, I hear you cry? Well, apparently in this world, the royal family don’t seek other noble families for acceptable daughters or sons to wed their children off to. Nope, in this world, when the royal family need to marry off their kids, they let cameras into their palace. Along with girls or boys from all the castes, specially selected for their beauty and intelligence. It’s an interesting premise, but it’s executed rather poorly.
Firstly, I would expect America to be a LOT less intelligent and a bit poorer. Apparently she speaks fluent French and Spanish, she’s been home-schooled all her life, but still has to play piano or sing at social functions to provide for her family. Uh… I’m not saying that home-schooling can’t be done on a budget, but historically, public education has allowed parents to take on work when before, they couldn’t leave the children home alone. Some parents only allowed their children a few days a week at school. And some parents took them out of the school system to work once they learned to read, write, and do basic mathematics. So hopefully I’m not alone in saying I don’t quite understand why the author portrays America and her family as having to scrimp and save just to survive when her mother somehow has the time to teach each of her several children two foreign languages and musical theory, among other subjects. Okay, it’s a nitpick, but it did baffle me all the same.
Secondly, why is this caste system so difficult for me to pin down? All I know is that Ones are really rich and Eights are really poor… so presumably your average-income, middle-class family would be a Four. However, there’s no explanation about the intricacies of the caste system, excepting tidbits like if you’re in a lower caste and somebody of a higher caste orders you to do something, you have to do it (like when America orders Aspen to help her pack her suitcase and he willingly does so), and employment opportunities get more and more menial the further down the caste ladder you go. Is that it? Really?
Well, anyway, just as The Hunger Games turns what is by all rights a brutal and tragic gladiator match into a glitzy reality show by drumming up public interest with dolled-up contestants and betting statistics, The Selection has a similar concept. The Selection itself is a reality TV show where the girls are competing for the prize of a lifetime: marrying a prince. And elevating the caste of their family. So, just like in The Hunger Games where you have the kids from certain districts groomed for this contest from childhood, those who are in higher castes are better trained to deal with the pressures of this contest.
America, of course, feels like she is extremely out of her league. The moment she is picked for the programme, she is taken away from her family, and because she’s the main character in a YA romance novel, her middle name is Mary Sue.
Yeah, America Mary Sue Singer.
Not only does America have a good singing voice, she’s also adored by the people and manages to convince Prince Charming to introduce some new policies to help the people. Of course, NOBODY HAD EVER THOUGHT OF THAT BEFORE! When America first lands in Angeles (more eye-rolling), the capital of Illéa, there’s a crowd waiting for her and cheering her on, and it’s apparently slightly bigger than the crowd for her travel partner from the same neck of the woods. Want proof? I’ve got it.
America’s travel partner: “America, you’re so nice. All those people at the airport loved you.”
America: “Oh no, I was just being friendly.”
And not only is America a Mary Sue, she’s also a dumb, lovestruck teenager. I think I’m pretty close to having bruxism listed on my medical and dental records if I read any more books with lovestruck teenagers in a romance that will not work in the long-term.
In the first few chapters, we’re introduced to America’s world, and her raggedy boyfriend Aspen. Aspen is, as mentioned before, poorer than America, but devoted to her. America pays his devotion by giving him her leftovers, and in kind he gives her pennies every time she sings to him. (To be fair to the poor kid, that’s all he can afford.) Pretty much every scene with America and Aspen is highly romanticised, the kind of mush that causes eye-rolling so severe it can cause migraines. I get it, Ms. Cass. America and Aspen are in love. And it’s SO HORRIBLE that America has to be taken away from her friends and family to compete for the love of a boy she doesn’t know who is only marrying her for political gain. You didn’t have to include that stupid, melodramatic scene in which Aspen breaks up with America ‘for her own safety’.
Look, I get it. Girl is taken away from her friends, family, and the boy she loves. But the boy she loves plunges a knife into her heart by breaking up with her ‘for her own safety’. But then she’s introduced to the incredibly sweet Prince of her land who offers to help her get through the contest. Even though America’s efforts are in this awkward grey zone where she’s kind wanting to fail and kind of wanting to succeed.
(Also, I really hate the use of America as a first name. I don’t quite know why, it just really bugs me.)
I’d also like to add that like all dystopian worlds, there’s a REBELLION outside their cosy little enclaves. Yes, a rebellion. In the world of The Selection, there are two very distinct factions of rebels. There’s the Northerners, who tend to sneak into the palace and wreck the place, seemingly looking for something, and the Southerners just want the monarchy to be completely demolished. Both use different methods to accomplish their goals, but there’s something that the reader does not know: WHY THE HECK THEY’RE REBELLING IN THE FIRST PLACE. My god, this is how NOT to write a dystopia. Like I’ve said throughout this review, dystopian societies are usually oppressive, violent, and leave their residents too terrified to even think of life outside these walls, with no rules and regulations. This is just ‘oh hey some people live on the fringes of society and they want to rebel against our monarchy’. It’s like they’re a minor nuisance for the people in high society rather than a legitimate threat. “Oh no, the bloody rebels broke into the palace again. That’s the second time in three months. Oh well, I’d better change the locks and do absolutely nothing about the sub-par security system I have in place, or think about WHY they’re doing this to my castle and my keep.”
The world-building and the socio-political aspects of this society just do not work. The writer makes it clear that history books are quite rare in this day and age, and history is not generally taught or studied. So, whilst the girls are having a history lesson for no reason whatsoever other than to shove in some exposition (a scenario which is a screen-writer’s dream), we learn just how the kingdom of Illéa came to be.
Here goes… The United States as we currently know it got so severely indebted to China, that the Chinese invaded. Why you would go so far as to invade a country with a failing economy is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s revenge – the Chinese government in this world don’t take kindly to countries borrowing money and being unable to pay them back. Who knows. (Also, where the hell is the UN?) So, while the Chinese invaded and took Americans in as labour, Russia reared its head. The American State of China was pulled between these two superpowers, when all of a sudden… from the bosom of Heaven itself, came Gregory Illéa.
Gregory Illéa. The man who reunited the States. The man who stopped all the fighting. (Apparently.) The man who turned the United States into a kingdom by marrying into a royal family. Which royal family? It’s never explained. Shame, really.
Speaking of royal families, in the last third of the book we’re introduced to the royal family of Swendway, Scandinavia. Oh, so apparently the world went to hell and Sweden, Denmark and Norway went back into being the Kalmar Union. There’s also a representative from Honduragua, which has to be the best name of any country ever. The royal families don’t do a damn thing, which is a bit annoying because, while they aren’t built up very much, I was expecting them to bring the winds of change with them and actually GET THE PLOT GOING.
Yeah, the plot in this novel is really quite dull and disjointed. So many opportunities to develop characters, as well as more of the world, that are just dashed by ending abruptly or just sitting there completely unexplored. The multinational royal families came, saw, and certainly didn’t conquer my attention. Wonderful.
I’d also like to know just how the people in this world continue to watch The Selection. It just seems to go on forever. Barely halfway into the book, the first batch of girls are sent home, leaving behind… twenty seven? Man, why would the royal family even go to all this effort to marry off their son if there’s still royal and noble families out there? Seriously. What’s easier: organising a reality TV competition to find your next prince or princess from a pool of the prettiest and most intelligent boys and girls in the land, or just attending balls or other upper-crust social occasions in the hope that your children will be introduced to their significant other, who won’t have to spend years learning the etiquette and other rules of the nobility?
I also don’t often find myself clamouring for this, but this novel needed to be longer. Why on earth it was stopped at 327 pages when the story is STILL GOING is beyond me. No, it’s not a cliffhanger. If our main character just puts on her thinking cap and decides to progress with the rest of the contest, that is NOT a good ending. It quite honestly seems extremely rushed. Why couldn’t this novel be, say, one hundred or two hundred pages longer? Don’t just bring back Aspen into the picture, some half-baked terrorist attack and the aforementioned adjusting of the thinking cap. It’s not a cliffhanger and it doesn’t give any finality to the story. It just awkwardly encourages the reader to continue. …Maybe. …Eventually. …Whenever you feel like it.
So, why have I gone on for nearly five pages about the problems of this novel? Is it that bad? If it’s bad, why have you given it that two stars? Something must have been good about it, right?
Yep, there were some good things about this book. Shocking, eh? I don’t know why, but Maxon was actually quite likeable. He took an interest in America a little too quickly for my liking, but otherwise he’s very princely and adorably oblivious, yet quick-witted. America is still a Mary Sue, but… it’s weird to say that I got used to her after a while. And for that, I congratulate Ms. Cass. The novel wasn’t too unbearable, but it really could have been helped if the world and the side characters had been better developed. 2/5.

(This review is also available on my blog:
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Reading Progress

June 10, 2012 – Started Reading
June 10, 2012 – Shelved
June 10, 2012 –
page 4
June 10, 2012 –
page 5
1.49% "I knew she [my mother] had a lot to carry on her shoulders. And I knew that was why she had taken to being particularly manipulative with me.\n \n Yes, because Mummy dearest telling you to fill in an application form is manipulative, eh?"
June 10, 2012 –
page 8
2.38% "Ah, the good old YA heroine who's pretty but doesn't believe that she really is and furiously protests whenever anyone tells her so. Yawn."
June 10, 2012 –
page 22
6.55% "America: I don't want to enter the Selection and become a princess. I love you, Aspen.\n \n Aspen: Uh, no, I think you should enter.\n \n America: Okay, I'm going to put no effort into it, get dropped from the contest and I'll become your wife because we're so in love!\n \n Aspen: Attagirl.\n \n Me: Let me guess, America's going to progress through the contest even though she's trying her best to fail?"
June 10, 2012 –
page 22
6.55% ""Would you sing for me? Give me something good to fall asleep to."\n \n I smiled. I loved giving him [Aspen] songs.\n \n Um... question. How do you give someone a song? I know you sing it, but... music is intangible. It just doesn't make much sense to me. D:"
June 10, 2012 –
page 27
8.04% "I took a shower as I processed everything that had happened in the past 24 hours. By simply filling out a form, I was winning the approval of my family, making Aspen happy, and earning the money that would help Aspen and me get married!\n \n Do I really need to be reminded of this, America dearest? I'd pretty much assumed that after you agreed to fill in the form and enter the contest."
June 10, 2012 –
page 29
8.63% "I laughed. It was true; I did tend to inhale my food.\n \n "Oh, the both of you! Why not write down that you're an absolute heathen!" My mother went storming from the room. I couldn't believe she was so frustrated - after all, she was getting exactly what she wanted."
June 10, 2012 –
page 35
10.42% ""I don't know why some girls go so over the top [for this contest]. Look at America. She's so pretty. I'm so glad you didn't go that route." Mrs. Leger said.\n \n "I'm nothing special."\n \n "Don't be silly! Every time Aspen comes home, he always says the Singer family inherited more than their fair share of talent and beauty."\n \n I get it, okay? America Singer is beautiful and musically gifted, but humble."
June 10, 2012 –
page 38
11.31% "My god, this girl has Aspen on the brain."
June 10, 2012 –
page 38
11.31% "[describing Prince Maxon] His hair was a honey colour, and his eyes were brown. He kind of looked like summertime.\n \n ...How do you look like summertime? Do you look like spring or autumn time if you have black or darker brown hair? Winter if your hair is very fair? Whut?"
June 10, 2012 –
page 46
13.69% "None of it mattered. Not if I had Aspen.\n \n Good god. I know America's supposed to be a lovestruck teenager, but shut up about Aspen already! You, Miss self-proclaimed ugly little duckling, are going to go into a contest to win a prince's hand in marriage. By virtue of you being the main character, you're going to succeed. So none of this 'WAAAH ASPENNNN I LOVE YOU' bullcrap, please."
June 10, 2012 –
page 52
15.48% "Oh no, Aspen's had to break up with you for your own... safety, I guess?\n \n Excuse me while I skim read through your WAAANGST and ring the WAAAHmbulance."
June 10, 2012 –
page 69
20.54% "That was it. I slapped him. "You idiot!" I whisper-yelled at him [Aspen]. "I hate him [Maxon]! I loved you! I wanted you; all I ever wanted was you!"\n \n 1. What the hell is a whisper-yell?\n \n 2. 'ASPEN! if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?'"
June 10, 2012 –
page 88
June 12, 2012 –
page 96
28.57% ""America, you're so nice. All those people at the airport loved you."\n \n "Oh, I was just being friendly."\n \n No, you were just being a Mary Sue."
June 12, 2012 –
page 101
30.06% "She was sitting next to Bariel Pratt, who had hair as straight as a bone and so pale blonde it looked white as it fell to her waist. There was no mild way to put it: her breasts were huge. They crept out of her strapless dress, tempting anyone to try and ignore them.\n \n Yeah, as a big-chested lady, I'm obviously DARING people to ignore my chest when I'm out and about in a low cut top."
June 12, 2012 –
page 110
32.74% "Okay, so America's rushed outside to get some fresh air, and has also met up with Prince Maxon. Of course.\n \n Also, Maxon, is it a legal requirement that you say 'my dear' in every sentence?"
June 12, 2012 –
page 115
34.23% "You know my main problem with this novel? It's supposed to be a dystopia, but there's barely any dystopian elements in the story whatsoever. You could have easily put this in, say, a modern-ish fantasy kingdom rather than go: 'Hey! The United States of America was destroyed and reformed into the Republic of Illéa. It's like Panem, potential audience and publishers!'"
June 12, 2012 –
page 121
36.01% "Aha, so today's the day all the girls in the contest are going to meet Prince Maxon!\n \n ...And of course, America had to go for the dullest-looking dress in her wardrobe. And then she laments that all the other girls look ten times classier than her.\n \n TAKING BETS NOW - 100 TO 1 THAT PRINCE MAXON LIKES AMERICA REGARDLESS OF THE QUALITY OF THE CLOTHES SHE'S WEARING!"
June 13, 2012 –
page 136
June 13, 2012 –
page 139
41.37% "Bloody hell, the postal service in this world works fast. Don't believe me? America wrote a letter to her family after breakfast, and one of the butlers gives her the reply to it by evening.\n \n Wow."
June 13, 2012 –
page 143
42.56% "Okay, so America is potentially infertile...? Wut?"
June 13, 2012 –
page 154
45.83% "So we have rebels now. Poorly developed ones at that. America and the girls and the royal family are eating breakfast and all of a sudden - REBEL ATTACK!\n \n But why? What is the rebel manifesto? Why are they rebelling? Is it just because it's a dystopia? Or they don't like monarchy, or...?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 172
June 14, 2012 –
page 176
52.38% "Marlee's dress was a brilliant yellow. With her blonde hair and sun-kissed skin, she looked like she was radiating light into the room. I don't know why, but I just can't imagine that colour dress looking good on Marlee."
June 14, 2012 –
page 177
52.68% "Olivia had gone so far as to wear orange. I'd admit that I didn't know much about fashion, but Marlee and I agreed someone should have intervened on her behalf. The colour made her skin look green.\n \n America, clearly you know NOTHING about fashion because no matter how I imagine it, there is NO WAY IN HELL I could see someone's skin looking green because they were wearing an orange dress. WTF!"
June 14, 2012 –
page 177
52.68% "Two minutes before the cameras were turned on, we [Marlee and America] realised it wasn't the colour of the dress making her look green. Olivia vomited into the closest trash can very loudly and collapsed.\n \n Oh, so she looked green because she was going to be sick. That certainly makes a lot more sense than her complexion looking that way because she was wearing an orange dress."
June 14, 2012 –
page 207
61.61% "Anna, who I'd only ever met in passing, had always struck me as an effervescent creature.\n \n She gave off bubbles? She had a fizzy air about her?\n \n Or do you mean she was 'bubbly' in personality?\n \n Ugh."
June 14, 2012 –
page 209
62.2% "...Wut. Okay, little history lesson about this dystopia for you guys.\n \n So, the United States as we currently know it ended up seriously indebted to China. So, the Chinese invaded and took American people in as labour. And then Russia came in and got their fair share of the spoils, but the new King somehow fought off the Russians AND the Chinese and founded the kingdom of Illéa.\n \n Um... what the hell?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 211
62.8% ""In some ways, we're kind of like Gregory Illéa [the founder of this country]. I mean, we get to serve our country. He was just a private citizen who donated his money and knowledge. And he changed everything." Emmica said with wonder.\n \n 'With wonder'? Oy vey."
June 14, 2012 –
page 211
62.8% ""Gregory Illéa became the king because he married into a royal family."\n \n Excuse me, what royal family? The British royal family? Sweden? Norway? Denmark? Japan?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 211
62.8% "Okay, apparently they also don't teach history in this world.\n \n Well, way to go backwards! Why the hell would the monarchy be interesting in suppressing historical information? History books still exist, but they're apparently rare and the subject isn't taught. Hey, idiots? History is there so that you DON'T MAKE THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST IN THE FUTURE."
June 14, 2012 –
page 221
65.77% ""Mail, ladies!" Silvia called out. "Let's see. Lady Tiny?"\n \n I burst out laughing. Here I was thinking that was her nickname, not her real name. Poor girl."
June 14, 2012 –
page 225
66.96% "Maxon let out a breath I hadn't realised he'd been holding.\n \n Does that make sense to you guys? Or is it just me wondering how the hell she knows he was secretly holding his breath before he exhaled in relief? \n \n Also, what the bloody hell is it with YA novels using 'one let out a breath one didn't realise one was holding' for slightly tense situations? Stop it!"
June 14, 2012 –
page 225
66.96% ""You just wanted to see me?" He looked happily surprised.\n \n Uh... what was wrong with 'pleasantly'? 'Pleasantly surprised' sounds and reads a million times better than 'happily surprised'. Ugh."
June 14, 2012 –
page 226
67.26% ""Mother is always on at Father to give more money to the school system - she thinks the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be a criminal."\n \n Ah, so clearly they don't teach sociology or criminology in this country. Or common sense, because, hmm, there's CLEARLY no such thing as a clever criminal who can evade the authorities."
June 14, 2012 –
page 227
67.56% "According to America dearest, those in the lowest caste are mostly criminals because they're uneducated. And extremely poor too, I guess.\n \n Well, it's nice to see that people still view the world in such black and white shades. America, seriously, dear."
June 14, 2012 –
page 231
68.75% "If you tell Prince Maxon your TWAGIC life story, his heart starts to bleed. No, seriously. He pales, walks away, can't believe he doesn't know that kind of thing happens in this country, gets all quiet and solemn...\n \n You know what would have been interesting in this story? A low-caste character who is actually smart and manipulative and learns all of the Prince's weaknesses.\n \n Oh, Monster...."
June 14, 2012 –
page 236
70.24% "Right, so... everyone is trying to emulate America now, because she's so pretty and perfect. She doesn't wear much make-up, she never wears jewellery, and always wears rather plain clothing for a girl taking part in a contest to be the next princess of her kingdom.\n \n Gather 'round, everybody! Time to sing the Mary Sue Anthem!"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Uh-oh, the rich, spoilt brat character just tore the sleeve off America's dress! Yay, now we might get some character development as to why Celeste is the way she is, or why America refuses to let herself be pushed around!\n \n ...Oh no, wait. America just goes to her seat in the TV audience thingamabobby and her friend tucks away the aforementioned dangling sleeve."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Celeste and Bariel tried to be sexy, bending forwards a lot to get clear shots down their dresses. It looked fake.\n \n Oh stfu America."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Okay, so apparently America was named after 'the country that worked so hard to keep it all together'.\n \n Ex-squeeze me? I thought this novel said that a generation or so ago, America became Illéa! And history books were uncommon, so how the hell would America's lower middle-class mother know that word!?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Maxon lowered his lips to mine and gave me the faintest whisper of a kiss.\n \n Something about the tentativeness of it made me feel beautiful. ...I sensed that he adored me.\n \n So this is what it felt like to be a lady."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "*BOOM*\n \n The insta-love cannon that resides in my brain just went off. In one page."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% ""The King and Queen of Swendway [Scandinavia] are coming to visit."\n \n "I'm from Honduragua."\n \n Are you kidding me?!\n \n SWENDWAY? How does that even make sense?! Why would Sweden and Norway and presumably Denmark unify? WHY!?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "OH, OF COURSE ASPEN IS IN THE PALACE GUARD.\n \n Didn't see that coming at all, considering America is now settled into her daily life in the Pretty Princess Contest and is falling in love with Maxon!"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Aww shit, now we're back to Aspen-obsessed America.\n \n Let me go find my cricket bat..."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "She looked mature, regal, bridal.\n \n Ah, the good old linguistic rule of three!"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Dramaaaaa. *yawn*"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "In his eyes I could see the same face I'd kissed a thousand times before in the tree house.\n \n Sense. This sentence makes none. Why would you see someone's own face in their eyes? Or am I being a bit too literal?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "Okay, um, somebody please riddle me this.\n \n The palace in this book seems to be getting attacked by terrorists... once every couple of months? And each and every time, they override the security measures that have been put into place.\n \n IMPROVE YOUR SECURITY MEASURES, THEN."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "They were the Killers. They were the Southerners."
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "My goodness, the Selection takes ages. It's like Big Brother but spread out over a much longer period of time. Who would actually watch this and be entertained every night?"
June 14, 2012 –
page 240
71.43% "New Asia? New Asia? Why would the continent be renamed as that? What happened?\n \n Am I likely to get an explanation?\n \n Nope."
June 14, 2012 – Finished Reading
June 16, 2012 – Shelved as: reviewed
July 12, 2012 – Shelved as: fiction

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Marie (new)

Marie All the country names make me think this might have worked better as a comedy novel. I'd read it anyway.

message 2: by Jane (new)

Jane A Mary Sue character with the middle name Mary Sue is priceless. Now I want to write a novel with a Mary Sue character whose FIRST name is Mary Sue... do you think it's possible to write a good Mary Sue on purpose? Or is the whole point of Mary Sues that their authors have no clue that they're doing it?

message 3: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph Wow...


Clair Jane wrote: "A Mary Sue character with the middle name Mary Sue is priceless. Now I want to write a novel with a Mary Sue character whose FIRST name is Mary Sue... do you think it's possible to write a good Mar..."

Haha, her middle name isn't ACTUALLY Mary-Sue. I just made that up. It'd be funny if it was, though.

From what I can tell, the term Mary-Sue first originated in Star Trek fanzines from the 1970s. People would add in their own characters as a form of wish fulfilment into fanfiction, and voilà, the stereotypical Mary Sue/Gary Stu was born.

Or is the whole point of Mary Sues that their authors have no clue that they're doing it?

I think a lot of writers default into writing Mary Sues, because they're easy to write, especially if you don't know a lot about the craft of writing. I'm guilty of writing a few when I was younger and hadn't taken a lot of writing classes.

message 5: by Jane (new)

Jane Oh darn I missed that... America Mary Sue Singer was just so perfect I wanted it to be real.

About 92% of all inspirational novels I read have a Mary Sue heroine. They are also present in many, many other novels, sometimes with some notional faults to try to convince us they're not Mary Sues.

Crystal SL and I are about to listenalong to The Da Vinci Code which has a Mary Sue AND a Gary Stu. This should be fun.

message 6: by MrsJoseph (new)

MrsJoseph If you go into The Da Vinci Code with the expectation of brain's pretty good! I read it like a movie and enjoyed it. If you start thinking.... :|

message 7: by Jane (new)

Jane MrsJoseph wrote: "If you go into The Da Vinci Code with the expectation of brain's pretty good! I read it like a movie and enjoyed it. If you start thinking.... :|"

It's a relisten for me (new for Crystal) so I know what I'm getting into. I'm sharpening my teeth and claws, ready for the kill.

message 8: by Mia (new)

Mia Why would you create this concept and not write the heroine from the point of a one? Like, isn't severe poverty the big deal. Drive-By Dystopia is a good term for it, judging from your review, seems like it should have been a throw-away fantasy piece instead. The class distinctions could have been interesting (hell, it's real now, the poverty issues in this country are disgusting), but it seems like they randomly chose a number to put her at? And upper-middle class, which is like... the hell is she complaining about.

America works as a first name when it's followed by Ferrera.

Ajna UN is the United Nations it isnt a country

Despair Speaking Right. It's an obvious waste of money!

message 11: by Ajna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ajna Skyla (Happy Go Lucky and Lost in Books) wrote: "Ajna wrote: "UN is the United Nations it isnt a country"

The only mention of the UN in the review I can see is Where is the UN? As in asking where is the UN to stop the fighting between the countr..."

i guess i misundrstode my bad

message 12: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Wonderful review, Vanessa!

Kaitlyn I love this review! It made me laugh.

Zero vi Britannia Nessa wrote: "Apparently every little girl dreams of being a princess."

Yet never a queen. How sad.

Clair Zero vi Britannia wrote: "Nessa wrote: "Apparently every little girl dreams of being a princess."

Yet never a queen. How sad."

I know. :(

message 16: by Diana (new)

Diana I think the idiocy of China and Russia invading America has already been picked to death, so I leave this comment instead: Swendway? SWENDWAY? Given that Norway currently has enough money to like, buy Denmark and Sweden, and besides, those two countries historically constantly tried to one-up each other for dominance of the area with Norway as a prize, and how awfully the Kalmar Union ended...nope.

message 17: by Zero vi Britannia (last edited Feb 14, 2014 07:39AM) (new) - added it

Zero vi Britannia The United States is now a monarchy, and it has a very rigid caste system in place.
How the hell does that even happen?

‘Drive-By Dystopia’
It's either that or Video-Game Dystopia (looking at you Divergent.)

message 18: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Charming Re-read the book dude. It's clearly states that the CROWN PRINCES of Illea are the ONLY royal family members who have The Selection. PRINCESSES by birth are married into other royal families.

Clair Anne wrote: "Re-read the book dude. It's clearly states that the CROWN PRINCES of Illea are the ONLY royal family members who have The Selection. PRINCESSES by birth are married into other royal families."

I don't think I will, thank you.

message 20: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Charming Vanessa wrote: "Anne wrote: "Re-read the book dude. It's clearly states that the CROWN PRINCES of Illea are the ONLY royal family members who have The Selection. PRINCESSES by birth are married into other royal fa..."

Well its' your fault for not paying attention to the book cleary stating that ONLY "Crown" princes (I don't think spare princes it get them) get to have the Selection (something to do about the fact that it's better for the "commoners"-not that Queenbee person is a commoner- have someone to fawn over in a sense/

Clair Anne wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "Anne wrote: "Re-read the book dude. It's clearly states that the CROWN PRINCES of Illea are the ONLY royal family members who have The Selection. PRINCESSES by birth are married int..."

And in the grand scheme of things, this changes what...? Royals and nobles marry other royals and nobles. Except for a few, who use this bizarre Selection process. Cool, fair enough. Not that I really care, though?

message 22: by Anne (last edited Mar 04, 2014 06:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Charming straight from the book: "This is what they did with Sons. Princesses born into the royal family were sold off into marriage to solidify our relations with other countries. I understood why it was done-we needed allies" Well you need to edit your review because you believed that both sexes got the the "Selection Chance".

Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell Anne wrote: "straight from the book: "This is what they did with Sons. Princesses born into the royal family were sold off into marriage to solidify our relations with other countries. I understood why it was d..."

Wow, rude much? Maybe you should work on your own review before telling people what they need to fix. I see like five spelling errors in it.

message 24: by Courtney (last edited Mar 05, 2014 11:25AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Courtney I think she's review hopping!

Lovely review, Vanessa. You definitely hit some of the major problems I had with this book. This type of story just doesn't work for this genre. And, I swear, I still can't understand why there is a rebellion to begin with. It is never, ever made clear why there are rebels or what they're demanding. They just kind of attack and everyone scatters. Sigh. Anyhow, awesome review. You really hit the nail over the head.

Clair Except all we get is basically "weh my life is so tragic because despite the fact that my mother has been able to homeschool myself and my siblings in areas such as music theory and foreign languages and the guy in the caste just below me scrapes and scrounges every penny... I can only have ONE GLASS OF ICED TEA WITH A LEMON SLICE FOR DINNER! :( :( :( "

Clair Actually, I like Kira's (I think) take on it - "the family can afford CITRUS FRUITS in this dystopian world, and yet they're supposed to be dirt poor?"

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