It’s been awhile, I know. I have been reading more books, studying for the GRE, and writing my novel! I was in the mindset to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I haven’t really been keeping up with talking to anyone else who is doing it… Also, I just don’t know when I’ll honestly be able to dedicate time to writing because every day is different and I’m not always sure I can sit down and write for a long period of time. At least I’m writing my novel in general, right?
I recently finished “The Selection” by: Kiera Cass. I have seen on Facebook and GoodReads that her most recent book in the series, “The Heir”, will be coming out soon. I’m not sure if I will finish this series, not necessarily because I don’t like the first book, but I am just not a “finish the whole series” kind of reader. I have to be seriously into the series to want to completely read all of the books.
“The Selection” by Kiera Cass follows the journey of America Singer, who is (you guessed it) a singer. The world that she lives in is post-apocalyptic, and the country is now called Illéa. The government is now a monarchy and marriage can go only one of two ways: a princess of Illéa will be married to a royal from the other country on Earth- which was once called China and is still pretty much China but with more words added to the title- and a prince of Illéa must be married to a young woman from one of the castes within Illéa. This arrangement is to keep peace between the other country as well as within their own country. *Enter Prince Maxon*
Prince Maxon is of age to get married, and so The Selection begins. A competition is held in the palace for 35 girls from all different castes to compete with each other in becoming the next Princess of Illéa. A fight for the royal crown! Who wouldn’t want to become a Princess?!
America Singer doesn’t. She is perfectly content with living in the artsy fifth caste so long as she can help provide for her family, still receive job offers to sing at events, and be with her one true love, Aspen (who, by the way, is from the sixth caste. Thus, making the relationship halfway forbidden.) However, each girl who gets chosen to be a part of The Selection, will also be giving their families a chance to receive more money and possibly move up in the caste system. Who else but to push America into this competition is none other than her mother. Although it isn’t her mother’s nagging or even her father’s sad contemplation over entering, it is Aspen’s begging that finally leads America to enter into the competition. Why would Aspen ask her to do such a thing? Read the book and find out! No surprise that America gets selected, Aspen breaks up with her shortly before she discovers that she got chosen, and then she spends almost her entire time at the palace warring in her head whether to forget Aspen completely or never give up on him and try to get out of the competition as fast as possible. (Poor Prince Maxon didn’t even have a chance to begin with.)
The rest of the novel is pretty much an overview of how America sees The Selection going, and her growing feelings, friendship feelings, toward Maxon. They quickly bond and right away he begins to develop feelings for her, but she is fighting to stay true to the one guy she’s ever been with. America makes some friends, she also inevitably makes a few enemies, and then at the end of the novel Prince Maxon decides to go ahead and narrow the number of girls down to what is called the “Elite.”
Overall, I enjoyed this book for what it is: a true, YA novel about royalty, young love, and being true to yourself. The glitz and the glamour may not have impressed America, but it sure got my attention! Like most novels, The Selection had pros and cons. The most prominent flaw that I noticed was the lack of history about how Illéa and the rest of the world came to be. Oh sure, Cass explains it but the history was not fully developed to truly make sense. I believe that as a writer, you either need to go full story on the history of whatever world you create, or summarize fully to get the point across that there has been change, and do not go into further explanation. The history did not feel complete enough for readers to understand where Illéa was at and it ended up just confusing me. There are rebels, North and South, who attack the palace on more than one occasion, but their history is not fully developed either that I didn’t really sense danger during the scenes with them in it. Despite the novel expressing a lot of concern with the rebels causing havoc in the palace and disturbing the girls, they were flat characters at best. All that is known the most about them is that the Southern rebels are the more dangerous group. Another flaw is the lack of technology. This is not a tale of “the world reverts back to Stone Age thinking” but rather just a world changed after a horrendous war yet still thriving more than ever. So… where is technology? I understand that not all of the castes would have technology, especially castes 6 and below, but I don’t see why the upper castes and the royal family are without it. I also get that in most princess novels everything seems to still be Victorian age or whatnot but, this is not the case. That may just be a personal dissatisfaction with the novel, but not enough for me to put it down without finishing it.
I think Cass should have incorporated more input from the other girls in The Selection. 95% of the information and “drama” that went on was all from America, and while she is the main character, she is the least dramatic and most indifferent of all 35 girls! A competition with 35 girls who are trying to politely stomp on necks for the crown would not be as subtle as the book portrays it to be. It just wouldn’t! America does make up for almost all of the good in the novel. She truly is a character to admire because she stays true to herself no matter what goes on in her life, she is always looking out for others, and she’s not materialistic. At all. In fact, she’s way too tomboy to be in The Selection and that is what makes it fun. Her maids for the time being are constantly surprised at her kindess, her lack of love for fashion, and hidden feelings for Prince Maxon. The one girl who doesn’t try at all to change herself to impress the royal family ends up in a warm spot in their hearts. Especially Prince Maxon’s.
Out of 5 stars, I’d give this novel 3.5 stars. If you like The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot and/or Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, you will enjoy The Selection series!
I’m still trying to complete my 2014 Reading Challenge, despite the end of 2014 getting closer and closer. I’ll blog next time when I finish the next book!