This book gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5
The Selection, Kiera Cass – With this tagline, it’s fairly straightforward to guess what Cass’s The Selection has in store for readers: “35 Girls. 1 Crown. The Competition of a Lifetime.”
For every girl but America Singer, the Selection is an opportunity of a lifetime: an opportunity to compete with 35 other girls for Prince Maxon’s heart and become crowned princess of Illéa. But entering the Selection for America means leaving behind her love for a boy from her hometown, Aspen, who is a caste below her.
When America is pressured to enter and manages to win a spot in the Selection, all her expectations of the castle, the king and queen, and Prince Maxon are shattered. Now America has to compete to stay in the race for the sake of her lower-caste family, but constant rebel attacks on the palace and America’s growing attraction to the prince may undo her plans.
I want to warn you before you pick up The Selection for yourself that this book ends with no real resolution, and Cass will instead continue the plot ad nauseum into three volumes. Considering it’s depth (or lack thereof), I don’t feel that the story in The Selection really requires the series treatment, but there it is.
Nevertheless, a lack of depth isn’t always a bad thing, and The Selection entertains despite coming across as formulaic and predictable. I admire Cass for attempting to create a unique voice in America — less of the Tris or Katniss badass-type heroine and more of a gentle, easygoing soul who likes to stay out of the limelight. Unfortunately, it always feels forced, and her humility is less than convincing. “I hated being the center of attention,” America’s first-person narration insists. “I hate everyone looking at me,” she tells Maxon, her maids, her friends, anyone really willing to listen. And yet she’s always noting how much attention she gets, especially from the prince.
Cass writes quickly, which I appreciate, skipping over monotonous traveling or time-lapse sequences in order to get to the good stuff. I didn’t find the story sagged, except in a rare moment of “lecturing” almost near the end of the book: the narration comes to a grinding halt and Cass decides to builds a detailed dystopian world during a history lesson. We learn of events such as “World War Three,” “World War Four,” and some unlikely stuff about China and Russia invading, as if the author knows anything about international politics. This attempt to jump on the political discourse bandwagon stuck out against the pleasantly shallow backdrop of the novel, and seemed like a poor excuse to keep the series going another two volumes.
The Selection may dutifully follow a formula and, from time to time, be predictable, but I don’t think those things detract from the very basic enjoyment of the plot: a more modern, more interesting Cinderella, against the flat scenery of a conspiracy-ridden civil war. I went into this book with high expectations and they were not met; I believe if you enter The Selection with more moderate expectations, you’ll be mostly happy–even considering the unfinished ending.