Note: As I do not read any reviews on the books I read before I write my own, I had no idea about the controversy surrounding this book and the author. The rating is solely based on my opinion of the book and that alone.
Well, what can I say about this book? I had so many mixed emotions about it, its hard to put what I want to say in words. There were some things I LOVED about it, but there were other things I HATED about it. But there were so many people talking about it that I just had to give it a try. Yes I fell victim to the hype.
This isn't something I would typically have on my radar because I'm not really into dystopians, but because it wasn't like hardcore, all about the different world building, I decided to give it a try. In The Selection, America is NOT hoping to to be Selected. She wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with her love Aspen. Unfortunately Aspen is in a lower caste and wants better for America. He leaves her broken hearted, making her promise to sign up for the Selection. Suddenly America becomes one of the Selected and is whisked away to the palace where she meets Prince Maxon. He makes her want things she never knew she wanted in the first place.
Ok, this may sound stupid, but I love the show The Bachelor (yes I watch reality tv... so what?!) and this is what it reminded me of. I really felt like I was reading a season worth of it. I also liked the idea of the futuristic USA. As I stated, I'm not a huge fan of dystopians, but because of the romance in this one it balanced out for me. And with Cass giving a history of the country (Il'lea) I wasn't completely lost about what happened before hand or what was causing them to do things so differently now. As for the romance, I LOVED Prince Maxon. He is so genuine and sweet. And although the romance is getting more heated between Prince Maxon and America, it didn't seem to be rushed. Especially with the conditions that America sets with Maxon when she first gets there.
What I didn't like was the world building and the writing style. I wanted to know so many more details about the palace and what it looked like and other treasures it held. It seemed as if the story was held in the same rooms; the dining hall, the Women's Room, and America's room. It would have been nice to see more of the grounds. As for the writing style, I think it lacked emotion. Although America is so distraught about losing Aspen, I didn't feel that in the story. Then when she began to have feelings for Maxon, I didn't feel that either. I didn't feel much of anything from or for America. She seemed indecisive and like a hypocrite. She criticized Marlee about something, but wasn't she doing the exact same thing? I'm just saying....
In all, this story isn't too bad, but I'm not sure it lived up to the praise that everyone put on it. But, with that being said, I will be continuing on with the series in hopes that she comes to her senses and sees that Aspen is a jerk and Maxon is who she needs in life!
At first, I thought I was going to be disappointed — I was prepared to be disappointed. After reading numerous reviews and seeing a lot of 1 star reviews, I wasn’t expecting it to be a decent read. So why did I even bother? I just wanted to, I mean, look at the cover! It’s gorgeous. I also wanted to see my own insights and reactions.
Let me put out now I was thisclose to putting the book down after reading up to page 20. It was a really stupid read: Ms Cass was writing anything, jumping to different scenes, and it was all too confusing. She also added unnecessary passages. The names were stupid, America Singer? Maxon Schreave? Honestly, why do authors think that, because they’re writing a dystopian novel, they could name their characters with weird names? She never explained the caste systems. Not to worry; after reading up to 145 pages, I get the drifts. So let me explain the castes to you before you pick up the book. Your caste system is based on your ancestor’s income.
Ones: You’re a royal; you’re filthy rich. Forget about starving, forget about shabby clothes, and forget about cleaning.
Twos: You’re living large; this is because your husband was in the military (from what I’ve read. Please correct me if I’m wrong).
Threes: You’re a normal citizen. You’re neither rich nor poor. You’re living comfortably.
Fours: The income is pretty low, but it’s enough to feed your family. The clothes are so and so. Not bad, but not good either.
Fives: You have to use your talents to make money. You have to work kind of hard and you’re barely making enough to feed your family.
Sixes: You’re a maid; you cannot refuse to help whoever (only from castes 1-5, mind you) ask you to do what needs to be done. Sometimes you miss out on food because you failed to make enough money.
Sevens: Sorry guys — didn’t read much on the Sevens. :/
Eights: You have no homes, no food, and you have to wear filthy rags for clothes. You can’t work.
With that being said, I hope it makes the first chapter not as confusing. Let’s begin with the review.
America Singer receives a letter to enter in the Selection to become a wife of Prince Maxon. Her mother couldn’t be more proud. So she pesters her daughter all the time to enter. America doesn’t want to go, she rather she’d stay at home with her secret lover, Aspen . . . a Six. It’s not recommended for someone to marry below a four, but can you truly help who you love? With America being a Five, she doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Unfortunately, things have to end between the two lovebirds because Aspen wants what’s best for America. He wants her to enter the Selection.
35 girls are picked (America included). They have to make the Prince fall in love with one of them. America befriends one girl; she’s the only one who would talk to her. All the other girls are throwing her dagger eyes. She doesn’t mind it, though. She wants to hurry and be done with it so she can return home. She used to hate Prince Maxon, but after meeting him, she sees some good in him and they become friends.
She doesn't want to marry him, but wants to be there for him and help him find a wife. I like their friendship. Maxon isn't a bad guy. The story reminded me of Wither by Lauren DeStefano, not The Bachelors. I don’t think the reviewers literally mean this is like The Hunger Games, just the fact that women from a lower caste has to compete to win the crown and Maxon’s heart to become rich; in The Hunger Games, people are selected from different districts to compete to win for fame and be drowned with riches.
The Selection was one of the books I wanted more than any others, because it's a dystopia and it has a completely gorgeous cover. Even though I actually don't like the fluffy dress (never been a ruffle fan), it still makes me stare, especially with the ice. Even now, I just got distracted staring at the cover. I think it's something about the colors and the textures to the dress.
Anyway, the description kind of made me laugh a little bit; I mean, it really does sound like a dystopian version of The Bachelor/Cinderella. As far as dystopias go, this definitely is pretty light fare. The society depicted here is a caste system as in olden days, with one's role in society determined by their occupation. Accordingly, women do not have much say in their lives and are required to remain virgins until marriage. Basically, this is a futuristic version of an ancient civilization, which is interesting, but, so far at least, the society really doesn't seem all that bad, although the attacks on the capital are worrisome.
The heroine, America Singer, is as one snarky reviewer pointed out a singer. Surprise. That reviewer deemed this a failure of originality by Cass, but clearly does not understand that historically many people, if they had a last name, had one that referred to their profession (i.e. the reason Smith is so common as a last name is because of blacksmiths, silversmiths, etc.). Research: it is a good thing.
Anywho, the writing definitely is pretty simplistic. Although I prefer complex sentences, I'm okay with Cass' writing. She can get away with it because the story is told from America's perspective. America, as a five (her caste), did not have a great education, so she might not think or speak in a particularly complex manner. Of course, I look forward to seeing Cass really show off her writing skills in later books.
Both Aspen and Maxon have their good points, and their moments that make me feel concerned. As yet, I am not declaring any sort of Team allegiance to either. So far, I suspect that Maxon would be better for America, but I'm not entirely sure that I like him better in general. Aspen definitely strikes me as more swoon-worthy, but Maxon's much nicer. Plus, he can afford to give her the tastiest food.
More than anything, The Selection actually reminds me of Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, which I would definitely recommend to anyone. The Selection is a fun, absorbing read. Will you like it? Well, it's going to be made into a CW television show, and I think it will be a good one (which I know I'll be watching), so if that doesn't appeal to you, The Selection might not either. I, personally, will be looking forward to book two.