Author: Kiera Cass
Released: 1 January 2012
Series: The Selection #1
In a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels the Selection is the chance of a lifetime: to compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's ear. 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?
I am so glad that I finally got around to reading this book! It was such a great read, and I managed to fly through it in several hours. I wish I had already bought the second book too, as I desperately need to continue this story!
Taking place in a dystopian-esque future where North America has fallen and been reborn as Illea, a country ruled by the King, and divided into eight castes. The story follows America Singer, a teenager from Five, the artist caste. Secretly dating Aspen, a guy from a lower caste, America, along with the other young ladies of society, are invited to sign-up for The Selection. The Selection, which is essentially The Bachelor, aims to find Prince Maxon a wife and future ruler. Forced to sign up by Aspen and her mother, America believes she'll never get selected, but she couldn't be more wrong. Having just been dumped by Aspen, America moves into the palace with thirty-four other young ladies, all vying for the Prince's attention. Despite agreeing to being just friends, Maxon and America continue to grow closer, much to the annoyance of the other girls. With outside rebels threatening to break into the Palace, Maxon must choose The Elite - the top ten girls. Will America make the cut and does she want to be there?
This book, and series, has gotten such great reviews, so I was pretty sure that I'd love it. But I've also seen some negative reviews, and I was worried that it wouldn't be as good as I'd hope it would be. Thankfully, it was such a great book, and I can't wait to see where the story goes from here (even though it's obvious where it will end up, I do want to know how it eventually gets there).
To me, the story is definitely The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games meets Red Queen - a weird mixture that work really well together. While the main story is about the Selection itself, I enjoyed the subplot of rebels trying to get within the palace, and I hope this continues to be a focus throughout the series, because I really enjoyed this aspect of the world. It also gave America and Maxon such interesting scenes, and shows that they work really well together.
I did have a few slight issues with the book. Firstly, I felt there wasn't enough world-building, especially in the beginning. We are thrown pieces of information about the world as if we already know what it looks like, and even when we do get some idea as to how the world was created, I still felt like there were some major holes. I really want to know more about the castes - how they were formed, what they all do, and why they are so regulated. Hopefully, we get more information in the next books and in the novellas. This isn't a big issue, just something that stuck out for me.
Secondly, something that isn't major, and managed to rectify itself in the end, is America's attitude to the entire Selection process. Obviously, she was in love with Aspen, and believed Maxon to be a pompous arse, but even with those factors, she would still have some excitement about being able to meet the royal family, and live in the Palace for a indefinite amount of time. Her negativity and sulkiness was really getting to me as it just didn't seem like a real reaction to the events unfolding. Thankfully, about fifty pages before the end, her attitude turned and I was so happy that she was actually positive about the entire situation.
Other than these slight issues that I had personally, I loved the book and the few plot twists that were thrown in - just when I could see a happy ending (albeit three books before the series ends), everything changed and I was both annoyed and excited at the same time. Bring on book two!
Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's such a great read and will definitely have you picking sides - Team Maxon or Team Aspen. I can't wait to see where the story goes from here, and I can't wait to delve into the novellas to learn a little more about this world and these characters. Now go read this book!