(Get it ? Cause her name is America…)
This book seems to be lurking around every corner since we started Book and Sensibility three years ago. I finally grabbed the ebook and when I put it in the running for book club selection, it ultimately got…selected. I couldn’t really get a sense of the story from the first book, so I went to the second and figured what the heck since I’ve been taking a lot of 30-minute bus rides lately. I may as well finish it.
The Selection is set in an alternate universe where the US is now called Illea and citizens are divided into castes numbered 1-8, with One being the highest and Eight being the lowest. As a Five, America’s family scrapes to survive as artists. America dreams of marrying her secret lower class Six boyfriend Aspen which will ultimately bring her down a caste. She is content with this future until a series of events lands her in The Selection, a televised competition to choose a common girl to marry the Prince and become a One.
The main pull in the first book is how American navigates palace life and tries to figure out how to deal with the feeling she develops for Prince Maxon as well as feeling for Aspen. There is a dash of political unrest thrown in, but it doesn’t serve a plot until the end of the book.
I’m going to have to take this image from the ladies at The Midnight Garden’s review of Alienated because I’m a black sheep when it comes to this book series. People seemed to love this series and I was just… okay on everything. The characters didn’t stand out for me, the political system felt underdeveloped and I was never fully invested in this world.
The books do get progressively better with each installation, some of the critiques I had about world-building and the competition get explained in the later books, but it never felt natural. There are some interesting things going on about castes, feminism, and monarchies, but I wish it had gone into the political stuff deeper since it ends up playing a big role in the end.
This is a series that doesn’t seem to know how to be a series. It doesn’t have an overarching arc, but it also doesn’t have individual plot arcs. Even as I think of the book it’s hard for me to remember what happened in which book. Yes, there is the competition but the competition doesn’t require much agency from the girls or any of the characters. It’s not until the last book that they even start to do things.
My thoughts aside this book is popular and has lived most of its publication on the bestsellers. I think that’s a combination of a pretty cover and the love triangle which I could go both ways on.
It was recently announced that Cass will be writing two more novellas and two whole new books for The Selection.Which makes me mildly annoyed since I was so proud of myself for committing and finishing a series in only a few weeks. Oh, well !
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.