Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

First published in Great Britain: 7th June 2012
By: HarperCollins Children's Books

In a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels THE SELECTION is the chance of a lifetime: to compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's heart. But for America Singer it means turning her back on her secret love, and leaving home for a prize she doesn't want.

Then America meets Maxon and all her plans start to crumble. Can the life she's always dreamed of compare to a future she never imagined?

My review:

In the acknowledgements for The Selection, author Kiera Cass thanks the reader in a way that is so happy and sweet it instantly brought a smile to my face. The exuberance she feels about another person reading her novel is palpable through her words.

Which is why I can't put my finger on the reason why The Selection itself seems to be missing that sense of thrill and excitement. In the future, the US has become Illéa and its people are ruled by a monarchy and separated into castes. Once a generation, the girls of Illéa compete in front of the entire nation to marry the prince of the royal family and become its future Queen. Anyone who's seen The Bachelor, America's Next Top Model or Toddlers and Tiaras knows how much crazy, addictive drama you can get from the mix of reality TV and female competition. In comparison, the shenanigans in The Selection are really mild and it never feels like it's all that important or the girls are really desperate to win. The worst thing anybody does to get ahead is tear someone else's dress sleeve. Everything's so...nice.

Nice isn't bad, of course. Nice is, well, nice. Main character America is like something out of a 1950's Girls' Romances - when she's in love with Aspen, her face just glows and she feels like singing, but when he breaks her heart, oh, she'll never love again. The novel pays lip service to America having some sort of inner fire or spirit, but the ways she asserts herself are fairly tame. While not typically the kind of character I love, I did find America, together with Prince Maxon, so anodyne as to be quasi-endearing and impossible to hate. If Illéa were Hogwarts, they'd both be in Hufflepuff. I also liked that time was spent showing the two of them becoming friends, before the romance.

The Selection is really about America, rather than the competition it's titled after. There doesn't seem to be much to it; there are no challenges or heats and girls are eliminated with little fanfare and we barely know their names, anyway. America has friendships with a couple of other girls and with her maids and these friendships are also...yep, I'm going to use the word nice again.

Look, this is not the most exciting novel. But it is readable and pleasant and I really didn't mind reading it at all. It reminded me of some of the paperback teen romances I read twenty years ago and I can easily imagine another young girl greatly enjoying this now, as I would've back then.

Rating: 3 stars

This book was provided to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review.


  1. Pleasant pretty much puts defines it to a T. Also this "If Illéa were Hogwarts, they'd both be in Hufflepuff." I think I felt eactly the same way, and moreover I wasn't sure I ever found the worldbuilding believable. I kept questioning why this was set in a supposedly Dystopian Kingdom instead of just straight up made into a Fantasy/alternate world/anything that would be more credible than "The US has fallen apart and turned into this inexplicable caste system with pretty dresses that come from...?"

    1. The dystopia part was totally unnecessary, so I just ignored it. It didn't have to be set in the future at all; people would compete for the chance to marry a prince today. They compete to marry totally ordinary guys in The Bachelor!

  2. I had to look up "anodyne." Nice.

    This books sounds a lot less intense than I thought it would be. Which isn't bad, but I'm glad I know that before I read it so my expectations are more in line. And really, if it's at all like a paperback teen romance, I'm sure I'll love it :)

    1. Heh. I love the word "anodyne" and am glad I got the opportunity to pass it on ;-)


If you visit this blog, please comment! I really do appreciate and read every one and try to answer back as much as possible.