The Selection by Kiera Cass is one of those books I’ve been hearing about for ages, but adamantly refused to pick up. From what I saw, it had mainly one star ratings on Goodreads, but the majority of book bloggers I follow and take reading suggestions from all raved about this series. Many people are against this book because they say it’s a Hunger Games rip-off (it’s not…not really at all). The reason I avoided it was because my understanding of the summary was that it’s a Bachelor parallel in a futuristic kingdom in North America. And it is…but it’s not the same misogynistic crap that the Bachelor is compiled of. Why? Because of the characters in the book- Maxon, America, and even Aspen. They aren’t at all what I expected, and I feel bad for ever underestimating and trash talking this book. Seriously people, don’t judge a book before you read it (unless it’s Fifty Shades of Grey).
The plot line to this book is a pretty simple one. When a prince becomes of age in Illèa, a selection is held to find him a suitable wife. Any girl in the kingdom can enter, and 35 contestants are chosen. It’s the chance of a lifetime- for some it’s a chance to escape a life of poverty and become royalty. To live in a lavish palace and court the prince himself. In America’s case though, it’s not that simple. She must compete and as a result leave her first love, Aspen, in order to help her family. She’s now in a competion she doesn’t want to participate in, let alone win, and the castle is constantly under rebel attacks. On top of that, she assumes the prince is nothing but a stuck-up brat. She’s wrong about Prince Maxon though, and quickly begins to question her feelings and heart’s desires.
Going into this book, I made the assumption that America would be a bratty, stuck up, haughty girl who wanted nothing more to win the prince’s heart and the crown that went with it. Boy was I wrong…SO wrong. She was kind and gentle, but also extremely strong. Right off the bat, you realize she doesn’t want to be in The Selection at all, she does it to help her family. She has a spark of fire in her that I wasn’t expecting. She’s not willing to be treated like an object to be used by the prince for his pleasure. She maintains throughout the competition that she is a unique individual who wants to stay truw to herself and will not cater to the specific wishes of the prince, competition be damned. I think there needs to be more role models of this sort in YA for young girls. Society often tells girls they need to change themselves to please boys, but that’s not the case. America is a prime example of a girl who stays true to herself and benefits because of it. Girls need to learn that staying true to yourself is more important than changing who you are just to please a man, and America is a fantastic role model for that. What people also need to understand is that America is a largely uneducated 18 year old girl, not a cutthroat thirty-something business woman. She’s going to act, think, and talk like one. This is Young adult fiction. If you don’t like it, gtfo.
Maxon, Crown Prince of Illèa, was an extremely refreshing male love interest. He wasn’t the broody bad boy who did nothing but objectify women until he found the one. He easily could have, since he had 34 women who were willing to cater to his every wish and demand (America not inlcuded because we’ve already established she doesn’t bend under peer pressure). He had every opportunity to objectify and take advantage of the contestants, and he didn’t. Instead, he was kind, honest, open, and vulnerable in his conversations with America. He never looked down on her simply because she was a female, or acted like his status as a male made him superior. He appreciated her rebellious attitude (we all did, to be honest), and joked around with her quite a bit. He was the “nice guy”, but didn’t expect a reward or anything in return for being nice. In short, I kind of definitely love Maxon.
I still am only giving this book 3.5 stars, mainly due to the simpleness of the plot line. It never really went to deep into multiple things: character depth, the backstory of Illèa (a post WWIII America is a fascinating concept), and the diction of the book was super easy to read. I didn’t have to work hard to understand the words. I do understand that this was meant to be a sweet, fluffy, easy to read YA romance; After the past few books I’ve read, it was nice to read a book I didn’t have to work hard to understand. There was an (unexpected) added element of danger thanks to the rebels, but they weren’t enough of a threat to make this book into anything like Red Queen or the Hunger Games. This book is a perfect book hangover cure, and I definitely recommend it. It’s also perfect for someone who wants a nice fluffy YA read that gives you some feels, but doesn’t completely obliterate your emotions (cause sometimes our hearts need a break). SO if you need a quick, cute read, definitely check out The Selection series. I personally can’t wait to see what happens in the next 2 books!