Emily May's Reviews > The Selection

The Selection by Kiera Cass
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did not like it
bookshelves: 2015, dystopia-utopia, young-adult, romance

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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Reading Progress

November 17, 2013 – Shelved
July 14, 2015 – Started Reading
July 19, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 253 (253 new)


Suraiya Onnesha Haha, reading through it was pure agony. :')


Laura Anxious to see what you think. I found it fluffy but bearable, but the second one...not so much.


Riana What do you think of this? I own it, but I still haven't read it yet.


Emily May Riana wrote: "What do you think of this? I own it, but I still haven't read it yet."

Not read much yet. I think I'm a bit scared by all the mixed reviews, lol.


message 5: by Julia (new)

Julia Carlton I have a feeling you might claw your eyes out ._. >.>


message 6: by Cristina (new)

Cristina Guarino Oh, I am so excited for this review. Hahaha.


I haven't read it yet, but I enjoyed reading other reviews (mostly negative). And apparently the author is another that treats reviewers poorly, so... I'm really not anticipating you to like this much!


message 7: by Ela (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ela I can see the 1-star review coming.. :D


Emily May Yeah. Unfortunately, you're right :(


message 9: by Line (new)

Line Hahaha, loved reading this review xp


Michelle Sadly, Kiera Cass is a history major.
Also, in addition to only having a few nice dresses, America's impoverished family has a refrigerator and a TV and eats popcorn, chicken, pasta, apples, and tea with lemon while America sneaks out entire loaves of bread to her boyfriend without anyone noticing. Because logic

P.S. They're making it into a movie: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...


message 11: by Whit (new)

Whit Have you read Blood Song by Anthony Ryan yet? Just finished it. Definitely worth a look!


Shannon I actually liked the last names because I felt like it was a throwback to how names used to be in the Middle Ages and stuff, like how people's last names would be Baker and Scrivener, because that was their occupation.


Calyan I've read all except the most recent one. They are terrible but keep me occupied. Only reason I haven't read the last one is because it is the overpriced. I don't know if you heard about the controversy with Cass when this book initially came out. Supposedly she and her editor?.... We're writing false reviews or something. And attacking those who left negative reviews. Google it. Haha.


message 14: by Anna (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna Hahah this was a great review!! :) The books do get better as the series go on though especially the third.


message 15: by Turkan (new) - added it

Turkan Taskin Really fantastic, funny review Emily! :)


Emily May Michelle wrote: "Sadly, Kiera Cass is a history major.
Also, in addition to only having a few nice dresses, America's impoverished family has a refrigerator and a TV and eats popcorn, chicken, pasta, apples, and te..."


I know! So many contradictions. And I'm amazed that Cass is a history major :O


Emily May Shannon wrote: "I actually liked the last names because I felt like it was a throwback to how names used to be in the Middle Ages and stuff, like how people's last names would be Baker and Scrivener, because that ..."

Definitely an interesting way of viewing it! :)


Emily May Anna wrote: "Hahah this was a great review!! :) The books do get better as the series go on though especially the third."

Thank you :) How does the plot develop after this one? Can you spoiler tag me?


Emily May Turkan wrote: "Really fantastic, funny review Emily! :)"

Thanks! ^_^


message 20: by Cindy (new)

Cindy thanks for the review! i probably will try and read it but thanks for a very fun review!


Emily May Cindy wrote: "thanks for the review! i probably will try and read it but thanks for a very fun review!"

Glad you liked it :) Let me know what you think of the book if you do give it a go!


Karen The 'history lesson' in this novel actually made me laugh so much, it was so awful xD
It's amusing to read bad reviews of books I personally hated, and you definitely highlighted all the things I found ridiculous about the novel (great review!). I'm kinda ashamed to admit I continued reading the series, if only to get a few more laughs out of it xD


Mothwing Nuuu. I was dared into reading this book, so I now have to. In exchange, my friend has to read Far From the Madding Crowd, so at least someone is getting something out of the exercise, but... Ugh.

Thanks for the great and funny review, though! :o)



message 24: by Bianca (new)

Bianca I literally LOL'ed at "And Prince Maxon himself is about as sexy as a doorknob."


message 25: by Meghana (new)

Meghana Manusanipalli "Bloody hell, is this really supposed to be a dystopia to anyone other than Paris Hilton?" This was the best line XD


message 26: by Shay (new) - rated it 1 star

Shay This book is such a train wreck and the ratings for it baffle me.


message 27: by La Coccinelle (new)

La Coccinelle The Paris Hilton line made me smile. Thanks for the review! This book sounds absolutely abysmal.


message 28: by Ellen Gail (new)

Ellen Gail I literally laughed out loud at " Katniss Evergreen, local fir tree." Great review Emily! =)


message 29: by Rejane (new)

Rejane LOL..


Emily I giggled so hard at this. Thanks for suffering through the whole thing for us... I couldn't make it past chapter 4 when I decided I could just rewatch "The Prince & Me" if I wanted to sit through another abysmal princess tale.


Mareike (SluttyHogwarts) I absolutely agree with everything that you said. That being said, I still thought it was quite entertaining. In the same way that you watch the bachelor with a glass of wine in you hand and talk trash about all of the contestants. Which doesn't mean it's good by all means. It definitely is a piece of trash.


message 32: by Not Henry (new)

Not Henry G Hey, don't fret yourself over reading a bad book, sometimes you need something crappy to appreciate the good stuff. Kind of like why I read most of the House of Night series


Marina Hahahaa finally i found someone who gave 1 stars too.. i remembered only rated 1 stars and most of friend give this books with 3-4 stars. what!?seriously?? (O_o) *Facepalm the story is getting worst when i read the second trilogy (The Elite) . It is completely waste your time to read all the series.

*no offense to the fans selection trilogy series


Autumn Melancholia This is hilarious. Love your review, Emily!


message 35: by Erica Martin (new)

Erica Martin LOVEEEEEE your review! :D


message 36: by Emma (new) - rated it 1 star

Emma Ha, this whole series was ludicrous. Seriously. I enjoyed reading your review, though.


message 37: by Naomie (new)

Naomie One of the funniest reviews I've read ^^


Holly About "stupid things for stupid reasons" - countries actually DO this. Like just look what happening in Ukraine now (because of Russia). Good review btw(:


message 39: by Luke (new) - rated it 3 stars

Luke Reynolds I remember reading this book and sort of liking it, but I didn't like how juvenile it was. The writing was very simple and it just didn't click with me. I also thought the characters were nothing special.
I decided not to read the rest of the series and watched videos (and book reviews) of the trilogy. Some of these videos were acted out with dolls and made by HarperCollins (the publisher of The Selection). They're much more enjoyable for me than reading The Selection was.


Vanessa J. Lool, Emily. When I saw you were reading this, I almost choked on my laughter; but after this review, I think I'm dead. I'm glad you hated this. Now I will continue enjoying myself. Great review!


Vanessa J. Emily May wrote: "Anna wrote: "Hahah this was a great review!! :) The books do get better as the series go on though especially the third."

Thank you :) How does the plot develop after this one? Can you spoiler tag..."


Saw this comment, and I know it's not directed at me, but here's my answer: (view spoiler)


Alharmoudi I hated this book :)


message 43: by Wren (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wren The WWIII was so annoying. China wouldn't invade the US. The US OWES them. And it's not like China's not in debt too! Pretty much every country is. It made NO SENSE.


message 44: by Laura (new)

Laura I wasn't going to read this before and am glad you sacrificed yourself for us Emily I often wonder about how these type of vapid books get so popular. Loved your line about Paris Hilton.

I guess to each her own.


message 45: by Emily May (last edited Jul 19, 2015 07:12PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Emily May Holly wrote: "About "stupid things for stupid reasons" - countries actually DO this. Like just look what happening in Ukraine now (because of Russia). Good review btw(:"

Thank you :) But, though I'm not saying I agree with Russia, I can understand that more because Russia's reasoning is based on a shared cultural heritage with Eastern Ukraine and Crimea (and their power interests/Crimean oil). Plus, rights and wrongs aside, Russia's involvement is effective. In this case (in the book), China would be stupid to invade the US because it would not achieve anything - it is a mindless, ineffective thing to do to invade a bankrupt country in order to claim debts. And whatever happened to the US's nuclear arms? Did they get lost somewhere? Lol.


message 46: by Tiana (new) - added it

Tiana I always enjoy your reviews!!


message 47: by Amy (new)

Amy Gary I'm glad I passed this one up!

Though Luke, please link is those videos with the dolls! That sounds ah-maaazing haha


message 48: by Amy (new)

Amy Gary Link *us, rather


Cindy Claudia Lmao your review made me laugh. I didn't pay so much attention about the history part, only to the affair between America-Maxon-Aspen and I don't enjoy it (it's like reading Twilight story with different setting and period). But the story gets better in the 2nd book and after. Idk if you'll read them, just if you have spare time, I want to know what you think! And thanks for the nice review which gives me a new perspective of things Emily!


message 50: by Adya (new) - rated it 3 stars

Adya Banerjee There is just so much hype about this book, but to me it just isn't worth it. The plot itself looks sub par and the characters seem shallow and one dimensional. Needless to say I won't be reading this.


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