THE SELECTION by KIERA CASS (2012)
A REVIEW by ALEXA DUNCAN
The Selection by Kiera Cass spawned its own little phenomenon upon its release in 2012. Marketed as a dystopian version of The Bachelor, The Selection was the novel for you if you wanted more romance than what The Hunger Games gave you, and less senseless violence. It follows the story of one America Singer as she is chosen (selected, even) for a contest to win the heart of a prince. Sounds simple, right? The concept gets muddled when you remember The Selection is supposed to be a dystopian novel. You see, the prince whose heart America wants to win is the prince of Illea, which is the new name for the former United States. Illea is a monarchy and its citizens are divided into castes. The titular Selection is a way to keep the peace among the masses while providing entertainment for its viewers, and, of course, a method of finding the next queen of Illea.
Once America is chosen for the contest, she moves into the royal palace with the rest of the contestants and the plot kicks off from there. It goes almost exactly how you think it would. And that’s not a bad thing.
The first thing you need to know about The Selection is that it’s completely ridiculous. Nothing is explained well, the worldbuilding is shoddy, and every single one of the characters is annoying. America is annoying. Prince Maxon is annoying. Aspen, America’s other love interest, is annoying. Everyone is annoying. Do I care? Nope. Not one bit. The Selection is stupid and its plot is altogether meaningless, but I love it and its sequels (there are four of them) enormously.
In the kingdom of Illea, we have contradictions such as print books being illegal, but magazines being readily available for public consumption. There are high tech cameras, but women have regressed back to the Victorian Age and can’t wear pants in the palace. Except for America, because she insists, and she’s seen as so progressive for it. There’s even your standard dystopian rebellion going on, but it’s so vague and unexplained that it has no bearing on the plot.
Speaking of the plot, let’s talk about what happens after America arrives at the palace: She and the prince have an immediate connection, and her love interest from back home (Aspen) showed up as a palace guard to try and win her back. America gets especially annoying when it comes to her love triangle because she’s so wishy-washy. One minute she wants to be with Maxon. The next she wants to be with Aspen. She’s incapable of making up her mind.
The writing in this book isn’t very good, either. It’s juvenile and espouses all of these ideas about how the caste system in Illea is bad, and how things should change, but it never goes farther than that. So why in the world do I like these books so much?
They’re fun. That’s why. They’re pure fun. They’re like cotton candy. They go down fast, they taste good, and they’re terribly addicting. So if any of this sounds good to you, or if you’re looking to have a fun time with a book, look no further than The Selection. You can pick up a copy at the Oreana library today!