OK, so I’ll admit that it’s cheesy and quite-badly written – but doesn’t everyone go through phases of craving these cheesy, badly-written books? I can’t believe it took me so long to come across The Selection by Kiera Cass, but then I think, a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near a book like this one. It’s only in the past few years that I have mellowed into the angelic, girly teenager that I am today ; ) , which is why The Selection suddenly started to appeal to me and I’m glad I took the plunge and delved into this unusual dystopian world.
Although I enjoyed the book, there were several set-backs which struck me straight away: for instance: the quality of writing is quite poor – there isn’t many imaginative adjectives or clever language devices and the sentences are all quite short and simple. There are also a lot of clichés, which I rolled my eyes at, but anyway…
Illéa is the country in which the events in this book take place. It is located in North America, which was took over by China in the fourth world war and the country is run by a monarchy. As with every other dystopian world, the people of Illéa are divided into groups, according to their wealth – in this case: castes. There are eight castes, and basically, the lower the number, the wealthier you are.
The main character in The Selection is a girl called America Singer (Ok, so I’m not even going to start on the ridiculous names, because you’ve probably heard it all before) and she is in the fifth caste, and her family, like everyone else, is keen to increase their status, so when the chance of a lifetime comes along, they aren’t going to miss it for the world. At least, America’s mother isn’t; she reminds me of a modern-day Mrs Bennet!
The chance of a lifetime is in the form of The Selection – a competition like no other. It is the chance to compete for the hand of Prince Maxton, who has come of age and is searching for a wife. The Selection is a competition when 35 girls are chosen to go and live at the palace, and are gradually whittled down to just one, who will then be the wife of the Prince. But for America, it isn’t as simple as all that. She entered her name into the competition simply because her family needed her to, because they are very poor. When she is selected, she is devastated because her love lies elsewhere. She loves a boy called Aspen, but their relationship was secret because it is considered embarrassing for a girl to marry down into another caste.
Their relationship breaks up, just days before America has to go away to the palace, and she is heartbroken when at her send-off, she sees her ex-boyfriend with another girl.
A lot of detail is left entirely to the reader’s imagination about Illéa and the other girls in competition. I think Kiera Cass could have improved this book a lot, if she’d delved into description a little more and constructed a better image of Illéa. Also, the characters are quite complicated in this book, which in a way, is good, but for me, isn’t relatable. America does some things which in my opinion are stupid. I mean, yeah, I get it, she doesn’t want to marry the prince, but if I went and kneed any guys who flirted with me, in the thigh because I fancied someone else, well, it wouldn’t go down too well, would it?
So America makes a big impression on Prince Maxton when she gets to the palace, being the very rebellious and confident young woman that she is. I enjoyed the dialogue between Maxton and America – although it’s a relationship going on between the Prince and this normal girl, it’s fun and lively, and not prim and proper, so it’s more relatable than I thought it would be.
America becomes closer to the Prince than she thought she ever would, but in a way which is more like a friend than a relationship. As her stay at the palace progresses, America also comes to realize what a war-torn place Illéa is; there are rebellions going on all over the place and teams of attackers trying to raid the palace.
The Selection is a delightful story of relationships, dystopias and fashion, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the flaws I humbly pointed out. I never expected to be compelled to read the rest of the series, but I will admit to having already checked them out on Amazon and Ebay! The Selection is one of those books that I personally, would have to be in the mood to read, but I can see it’s appeal to teenage girls who aren’t massive fans of reading in general. It’s easy and quick to read, and simple enough to follow (if you can keep up with all the weird names!) I’m giving it 4 stars out of 5, for originality and personal enjoyment.