So yeah. Not the same thing.
No, the pop culture phenomenon The Selection most closely resembles is The Bachelor. A bunch of pretty girls trying to win the hand/money (or in this case, crown) of a studly guy. There’s even camera crews and a weekly televised broadcast.
But whereas I can’t stand The Bachelor, I absolutely LOVED The Selection.
Beyond just the abundant prettiness (and there WAS abundant prettiness), this book just gave me happy fluttery feelings in my tummy. America was fun and feisty. Sometimes a bit dense, yes, but that’s when I had to remind myself (as I have to do often in YA books featuring female protagonists) that she is a teenage girl, and so it makes sense for her to be a bit dense.
Prince Maxon was sweet and charming and I’ve got to say, I know the whole point of the book was that America has two viable options in Aspen vs. Maxon, but I am Team Maxon all the way [I can't believe I just said that]. Aspen is stoic and intense and responsible and B-O-R-I-N-G. Granted, we don’t have nearly as much time to get to know him as Maxon, and most of our perception of him is through America’s lovesick and swoony eyes, so I will try not to be too disappointed if she runs back to him in Book 2. But I sincerely hope that Maxon is the victor.
There is a brief attempt to explain how the country of Illéa came to be, although the caste systems are never explained. Maybe in Book 2? I found the explanation reasonable enough. I know there are others out there saying they didn’t buy or understand it, but in the context of the story, and especially since America is narrating in first person and she herself doesn’t fully understand it all, I thought it was fine.
And while there’s very little action or nail-biting suspense in this book (unless you consider a will-they-or-won’t-they romance nail-biting suspense), I still found myself completely enthralled in the beauty of the Palace, the developing relationship between America and Maxon, and the tentative friendships between the girls in the Selection.
The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the ending. I wanted there to be MORE. Even though I knew it was going to end without resolving a lot of things (since my friend who loaned me the book warned me of as much), I was still sad and surprised when I hit the last page and still had questions. There’s a lot of subplots (and main plots) left hanging at the end. Consider yourself warned.
I think The Selection isn’t so much for Hunger Games fans (although I am a Hunger Games fan) as it is for fans of stories like The Princess Diaries or anything by Jane Austen. Or, obviously, fans of The Bachelor. It’s a fun, sweet, and highly entertaining romance, and the future dystopian setting adds some interest and uniqueness. I enjoyed it immensely.