Published April 24th, 2012 by HarperTeen
Author’s Website: http://www.kieracass.com/books/
Synopsis and picture from the Goodreads book page
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
This one is closer to a 1.5 than a 2, and I agonized over that a LOT. I didn’t enjoy the book or like any aspect of it. But it was not as bad as others I have read and rated 1 star before. So a 1.5 seems the most logical choice. This initially was a book that I fell for the cover for and bought it and took it home. It was only after that I learned about all the drama and issues surrounding the author and her agent. This disappointed me and I put the book away. But I figured that since I have it already, I might as well read it with no prejudice about the earlier events. To be quite frank, if I hadn’t already bought a copy, the author’s behavior would have been enough for me to never read it…but that ship had already sailed.
I had several huge problems with this book. First was the writing itself. I was under the impression that these were characters in their late teens, but the dialogue sounded like I’d run across a group of 12 year old girls gossiping in the school hallway. The writing and dialogue was very immature, even for a YA book. Of course I probably should have feared this when the dedication was “Hi Dad! *waves*” No, I did not make that up, a grown adult actually wrote that in a published book. It got worse when she uses “for reals” and “realzies” in the acknowledgements at the end. The writing started to make a bit more sense after that.
My second big problem was with the premise of this book. The government depicted here is a total monarchy, but if that were the case then there is no chance in hell that a common girl who was not of royal blood would EVER be married into that family. That is how total monarchies work. Now, if this was similar to the current British monarchy where the royal family is mostly a figurehead and has no political power then it would make sense. But it did not. The plot was also SO painfully predictable. Of course America was going to be one of the Selected, of course there was going to be a love triangle, of course the ex would show up again, of course she’d end up actually having feelings for Maxon. Naturally America would be the ONLY logical option for Maxon. I could have guessed all that from the blurb on the cover, which is a bad sign for the book.
The history in the book also annoyed me. What was the point of telling me the history of the country’s birth if there was going to be zero other world building? Yes, there was a caste system but it was so vague that I’m still not sure I get the logistics of it. There is a monarchy and rebels, but its not explained what they are rebelling about so it’s hard to care.
One more point I want to address, what is wrong with some of the people in this book? America’s mother basically pimps out her daughter, urging her to enter herself in the Selection because if she’s chosen then the family will get money and a better social standing. Really? You’re pimping your daughter to the prince for money and social status? But it got worse. The girls in the book are required by law to remain virgins until they are married. They have to sign a form that they are, in fact, virgins and if proof is found otherwise they will be executed for treason. Then they make it a point that, even though that’s the law if the prince asks you for something, ANYTHING, you don’t tell him no. So, if he wants to have sex with you, even if you do not want to you are still required to tell him yes. Yes, that is exactly what it sounds like. Rape is perfectly cool as long as it’s the prince. And yes, I know, it turned out to be a misunderstanding and blah blah. I don’t care. It was still put out there and it made me sick to my stomach to see such a thing being touted in a book for teenagers.
Short ranty bit here, why am I supposed to care about any of these characters. America is a whiner. She whines about being poor when her family has chicken, pasta, tea with lemon, and popcorn for dessert while they watch tv. You ain’t poor honey, get over yourself. Aspen is an idiot who didn’t even belong in the book. All we know about him is that he has a machismo complex that’s out of control and he likes making out with America before he convinces her to pimp herself out to the prince too…for his peace of mind and all. We don’t get to know any of the girls in the Selection hardly at all. We are told to hate Celeste and told to like Marlynn (or whatever her name was), but no one else is discussed in any kind of detail that you give a damn about them at all. Maxon acts like a girl most of the time so I can’t really like him either. And ultimately I wish this book had been written more like an actual episode of The Bachelor, then it would at least have been interesting.
Lastly, I have no idea why this needed more than one book. Another few hundred pages and the story would be done, so what is the point? I don’t care enough about this story to like one book, I certainly am not going to like two or three books. And a final ranty bit, why the hell do we keep peddling weak assed women to teenagers?! All America cares about is that she’s with Aspen and gets married. That is just about her sole focus in the entire book. Though I will say she handles breakups better than most YA characters, meaning she doesn’t get suicidally depressed and stalk him. But instead she’s just weak and the first second the ass shows back up goes right back to sucking face with him as though nothing happened. Most normal people don’t have these co-dependent, unhealthy relationships! Why do we in YA!