Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Released: June 7th 2012
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…
It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's love.
Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.
Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret — one which could throw the whole competition… and change her life forever. (from Goodreads)
*I apologise in advance for this overly long review. Expect more of these, for some reason I can't stop writing these absurdly long reviews lately.*
The Selection was a strange read for me. I enjoyed reading it, but at the same time, lots of things about it annoyed me. I was kept entertained, but there was so much I didn’t like. I don’t know. I guess it was engrossing, but with a lot of flaws.
America Singer (who sings -_-) was our main character, and she was...okay. I didn’t dislike her, but she could definitely be naive or stupid at times. For example, her comments on the country’s caste system made me raise my eyebrows. She said, “It really seemed unreasonable to limit everyone's life choices based on your ancestors' ability to help the government, but that was how it all worked out. And I suppose I should just be grateful we were safe.” I was just like...really? That’s all you have to say about it? It’s a terrible system, why would you defend it? She just seemed to be going with the flow. She didn’t really seem to want to think about anything on a deeper level. However, at least she wasn’t some devoted patriot who ignored every flaw. She was disgusted by the fact that the Selected had to be virgins (rightly so, what kind of fourteenth century system was this?) and didn’t react kindly to being told she was “property” of Illea or that she was not allowed to turn Prince Maxon down for “anything” (which just horrified me. Actually horrified me. The whole Selection seemed sinister to me from the start and no-one seemed to care that these girls could be forced into things they didn’t want). I also liked that America had the nerve to stand up to Prince Maxon at the beginning and yelled at him, at least she wasn’t afraid. It was hilarious when she kneed him in the groin, she definitely had some guts. But then again, that being said, she seemed absolutely fine with a lot of chauvinistic behaviour that went on (more on that later), she did a lot of stupid things (especially at the end – why risk that when you know the [absurdly harsh] punishment is death!) and I just couldn’t get her character. She was inconsistent. She seemed to want to be an individual and make her own way in life, yet at times seemed to think nothing of being treated inferior. Was this how she was raised? An effect of the government? Why, exactly, had this future society reverted to such old traditions? I understand it was supposed to be a dystopian society but it didn’t seem like that. It kind of was, but it was a bit...weak. The world-building was confusing, I had no idea what motivated the countries involved to act the way they did, I had no clue where George Illea came from, what exactly he did to sort out the problems and why he would name a country after himself! And why go back to a royal family having complete control, even if he did marry into some unknown royalty? I didn’t get it! More explanation was definitely needed, though, to be fair, we might get more of this in the next book.
As for the love interests, I had problems with both, but I think I’m Team Maxon. Mostly because Aspen came across as huge crybaby douchebag. In fact, he really, really annoyed me with his words and behaviour. He was a chauvinistic jerk, and as soon as he said, “I'm supposed to be providing for you. It's humiliating to have you come here and do this for me,” I disliked him. It was humiliating for him that his girlfriend brought him some expensive dinner? Oh what, because he was the man? He was supposed to provide everything, was he, while America sat at home doing the washing, humming a lovely tune? What an idiot! What was his problem! He was too proud to eat? He was so proud of his MANHOOD that he BROKE UP WITH HER because he could never be the provider in the relationship? What! I understand that he was a lower caste than America and he wouldn’t want to see her suffer and be in poverty, but the way he said it made it seem like he didn’t want to be with her unless he was the breadwinner in the relationship. And worst of all, America seemed to find this all perfectly reasonable. Oh dear, she had offended her love! When really, the only one at fault was Aspen for being a proud jerk – though I did also question America’s logic, because she seemed to want to marry Aspen (at this age, really?) and put herself in a bad situation without thinking anything through. And then Aspen came running back to her, despite the fact that he was the one who pushed her into doing the Selection (and God knows why she agreed) but only, it seemed, because he now had a better job as a palace guard (how convenient he turned up in the exact place America was), so really his wanting to make up with America was nothing to do with him changing his ways, but more to do with the fact he could feel prouder now -_-. Plus, he never talked to her! They never had conversations! They just kissed and wondered about marriage.
Maxon was better in the sense that he and America actually talked about things and got know each other. They were actually friends, there was actually something between them – a spark, or a flicker of something - and Maxon was a bit more likeable (though I HATED the way he called all the girls in the Selection “dear” and acted like his life was so hard when he was in a bloody contest where thirty-five girls basically threw themselves at him so he could pick one to be his wife). He was very naive and often dense – he knew nothing about people in the lower castes (really, how could a prince not know that people were going hungry? People go hungry everywhere, everyone knows that) and to be honest, I was unsure of him when we first met him. He seemed a bit pompous and I didn’t like the fact that he could get rid of eight girls after only talking to them for five minutes – what could they have possibly have done wrong in that space of time? The whole competition was disturbing, but I began to like Maxon more when he expressed his own concerns about it, and at least he seemed to genuinely care about his people and country. Also, he treated America with more respect than Aspen did, in my opinion, and valued her views and comments. He was quite kind too, and didn’t seem to care much about what caste people were, and he tried not to be selfish. I won’t deny that he was an idiot at times (but so was America), but I don’t know. He was sweet in a clumsy, awkward kind of way.
The competition was just odd. The girls just seemed to sit around doing nothing all day. There was nothing going on, except Maxon took them out for walks sometimes. And when girls were eliminated, I just didn’t care because I didn’t even know half of them. We didn’t even get all of their names. It seemed pointless. I only really liked Marlee, and even she got annoying towards the end, and the maids were nice, but it seemed like they were just too into their jobs – no-one, and especially not three different people, can enjoy catering to another person’s every whim THAT much. It defies human nature.
But despite all these problems and issues I had, I was compelled to keep turning the page. I wanted to know what would happen to America and Maxon and which six girls would be left in the competition and whether or not America actually had it in her to change anything. The ending just seemed to cut off at a random point, and I was left with lots of unanswered questions, which was annoying. But I did enjoy this book in a way – something made me want to read on until the end.
Overall, The Selection wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t really good either. If you want something to pass the time, give it a go.
And I can't leave without posting this perfect song for Aspen: