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The Selection by Kiera Cass
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The Selection (edition 2012)

by Kiera Cass

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1,1231687,318 (3.83)39
Member:activelearning
Title:The Selection
Authors:Kiera Cass
Info:HarperTeen (2012), Hardcover, 336 pages
Collections:Farmington Public Library
Rating:*****
Tags:dystopian fiction, romance, competitions, royalty

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

2012 (11) 2012-release (6) 2013 (16) castes (8) competition (6) contest (8) dystopia (53) dystopian (37) ebook (18) fantasy (26) fiction (38) girls (7) Kindle (7) love (10) love triangle (8) marriage (16) prince (17) princess (12) read (10) read in 2012 (13) read in 2013 (8) reality tv (6) romance (65) royalty (21) science fiction (19) series (20) teen (26) to-read (93) YA (48) young adult (66)
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Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
Let me say this upfront: I read the whole thing, didn't skim or skip pages. Re-posted from my blog at http://armchairauthor.wordpress.com

Stucco palace.

Just think about that phrase for a moment. Hold it in your mind. Turn it over, consider the implications. It has a lot to do with this review.

The Selection by Kiera Cass, 327 Pages

I was really excited about this book, I really wanted to like it. I am not immune to the lure of a beautiful cover featuring a beautiful girl in a gorgeous dress. A dust-jacket featuring a svelte redhead in endless ruffles of turquoise tulle reflected back in different poses by a bank of water-spotted mirrors, wrapped around a Tiffany-blue hardback stamped with a silver tiara. Despite my disdain for bodice-ripping romances I can enjoy a made-for-TV romantic comedy or an episode of The Bachelor while I’m cooking dinner, so I was game to give the YA dystopian fantasy a shot.

This is a book that tries to bridge the gap between The Hunger Games and Twilight. Someone was bound to try soon enough, those two incredibly popular series combined would seem like a golden ticket to publication. On the one hand, we have a highly regulated society in which many are starving and it is very difficult to move across the government’s dividing lines, hosting a competition to publicly elevate one of its number above the rest. On the other we have a novel completely centered around a love triangle, with a heroine who is a bit of a Mary Sue.

America Singer is a tri-lingual, naturally beautiful musician with a secret boyfriend of a lower caste. Being a Five is not so great, it is an artisan class with sporadic work that leaves her family perpetually short on food, but her boyfriend Aspen has it worse as a Six in the servant class. She has the big-time hots for this boy and they have two years worth of treehouse trysts backed up, creating an incredible pressure that they’d like to relieve post-marriage (pre-marital sex is ground for imprisonment). Big no-no, America’s momma is hoping she will use her pretty face to marry up at least two castes. When a Cinderella-esque invitation arrives exhorting America to enter a lottery for a chance to win a place in a competition to win the hand of the crown-prince of Illéa, becoming a One in the process, her mother is practically foaming at the mouth and even secret-boytoy Aspen doesn’t want her to pass up the opportunity.

She is persuaded to enter, and of course she is selected.

Many blogs have already likened this novel to The Bachelor, and I would have to say that it actually reads like Bachelor fan-fiction with a prince subbed for the schmuck. America is incredibly judgmental of the other Selected, often based on a single visual impression or line of dialogue, yet these judgements are never false. The sexy brunette is seductive and conniving, the bubbly blonde is sweet as pie. Everything plays out as exactly as you might guess, in the most clichéd manner possible. The palace is repeatedly attacked by mysterious rebels with no definite purpose in scenes that fail to thrill. The book is light on both dialogue and description, propelled by endless stated actions and sentiments “I walked downstairs and then sat in a chair and then ate dinner. It was delicious. I felt full.” There were several paragraphs in which every sentence began with “I”. The scant dialogue all sounds the same, though the novel depicts characters from a range of social classes and geographic locations. I wouldn’t even know if I split an infinitive, but there were many glaring errors in mechanics, as though someone printed their fan-fiction straight from the computer and had it bound. Unfortunate dialogue tags abound, everyone “sings” everything. At one point I wondered if this book were supposed to be a musical.

The heroine herself comes across as inconsistent and disingenuous. She is home-schooled and plays the victim of incomprehensible feminine politics, but makes unerring judgements of her fellow ladies and presumes to give Maxon advice on interacting with them. At one point she states that she wants nothing more than to be alone with a violin, on the next page she is alone in her room with a selection of instruments and says she can’t “be bothered” with them. She claims to be madly in love with Aspen but only seems to think or feel anything about him when he is directly in her line of sight. She performs actions that are inconsistent with the reader’s knowledge if her character, simply because they seem to be on the author’s checklist of princessly characteristics.

The romance is pretty dull. With America and Aspen it is a lot of forbidden horny leg-rubbing; America and Maxon engage in slightly more interesting conversation about why he sucks (America is a real charmer).

This is not the worst of it, you guys, and I’m sorry for rambling on. I’m almost done.

The worst failure of this novel is a failure of the imagination. I could deal with a stupid plot and two-dimensional characters if I got some great poetic language, engaging world-building, or sumptuous descriptions of luxurious locales and fashion. The author seems to have an obsession with cap-sleeves, everything America wears has them! I’m not sure if it was a deliberate choice to make her seem demure or a lack of creativity. The sumptuous cuisine? Bacon, eggs, and pancakes; or vanilla ice cream with fruit. Literally dozens of female characters have names but no physical descriptions or personalities, even when they have speaking parts. COME. ON. The palace is made of stucco (but has marble floors). Stucco, you guys. It was described in a way that made me picture the mansion they always use on The Bachelor, but it is somehow big enough to house more than two hundred people, forty or so with their own rooms and enormous individual bathrooms. Magic.

I am disappoint. This could have had real potential if a tougher editor had entered the picture. ( )
1 vote ArmchairAuthor | Jul 3, 2014 |
I loved this book. I just can't help myself when it comes to dystopian young adult books. America is a great character and Cass makes her feel like a 'real' teen - just one in a different world. I can feel America's uncertainity, and I feel the unfairness of the whole institution of selection, even if its not actually brought up in the book that much. But then again - by not talking about how weird/strange it is Cass really puts the reader in the world of Illéa.

I'm truly baffeled by the mixed reviews this book has recieved. I'm an adult who enjoys YA books, I read them because they are entertaining - that's it. Its a nice way to spend an hour or so. I'm not concerned with the moral or anthing like that - I want to be able to block out the fat man sitting next to me on the train while I commute. If you like YA distopian books and a good time read The Selection, if you take life too seriously then don't read it. ( )
  sscarllet | Jul 1, 2014 |
There are two things that should be known up-front about The Selection: Whoever decided it qualified as Dystopia needs to be handed a copy of 1984 STAT, and despite this oversight, The Selection is actually pretty entertaining. As long as you don’t throw the that “D” genre label anywhere near it, The Selection stands pretty well on its own. The only reason this book really can even get near the Dystopia label is the caste system, which while that makes America an underdog to root for, doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

That aside, I really enjoyed The Selection more than I thought I would. Cass’ writing is sometimes distracting, but for the most part I thought she told the story decently. After the first chapter, I decided not to expect anything more from this story except entertainment, and that’s exactly what I got. I’ve never watched The Bachelor, but from what I can tell, the comparisons to reality TV for this book are pretty spot-on. It has all the features of why reality TV can be appealing.

America is a bit annoying at times, but yet I still found myself so intrigued by her romance. I hated Aspen, one of the potential love interest, so I was happy to see that America slowly warmed up to Maxon over the course of the story. For his part, Maxon is a little too perfect, but this is really a fairy-tale at heart so I’ll let it slide.

Personally, I think I would have liked this book more if it hadn’t decided to play at the Dystopia genre. I could have done without the rebel attacks(though I’m hoping they’ll be important for the future books), and wished this book had just played up the fun angle for all it’s worth. It might not be the best serious reading, but it made me giggle and squee over Maxon and America’s relationship, and I think as just a fun story it does well.

Final Impression: The Selection is not that well-written or well-defined, but I liked it DESPITE those facts. It was just an entertaining story and while I totally get why people haven’t liked it, the book definitely entertained me for a few hours. It’s basically just a popcorn, completely-for-fun read, but I liked it all the same. ( )
  Stormydawnc | Jun 23, 2014 |
This is a simply wonderful book, with a princess nature and hidden plot line. It is about a dystopian united states, torn apart by war, that has succumb to a system of castes, ranging from 1 to 8 with one being royalty, like districts in "The Hunger Games", that force them to be either poor or rich because of restricted job opportunities. Once a prince has come to age to be married, the king and queen hold a public event that choses girls from all different castes to compete in a sort of competition for the prince. He goes on dates and such with the girls and eliminates them if he doesn't believe the girl could be the queen. A girl from caste 5, America Singer, enters the Selection from pressure from her mom and boyfriend. When she gets drawn and has to go to the castle (not a spoiler, it's kind of obvious) she has to decide if she likes her boyfriend, Aspen or if she could find love with the prince. I think it has the dystopia of "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins with the competition of "The Princess Academy" by Shannon Hale. This is my most favorite book by far. ( )
  Fifi1288 | Jun 16, 2014 |
The Selection had been on my wishlist for awhile, so I was excited when it became available for checkout from my library. I had high expectations for this novel (just look at that beautiful cover), but was sadly disappointed. The book started out interesting enough but just ended up being like a boring episode of The Bachelor. The characters are mediocre at best and the plot is beyond predictable. I'm only the teeny tiniest bit curious to find out what happens. ( )
  LauraT81 | Jun 5, 2014 |
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When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic.  She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever.  The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me.  I didn't think I was a particularly disobedient daughter, but this was where I drew the line.
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The opportunity to be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and pricelss jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of 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, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she begins to realize that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
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"Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection--a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea's prince--but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her"--… (more)

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