28 September 2012

Book Review: The Selection

The Selection
by Kiera Cass

Concept: ★☆☆☆☆
Characters: ★☆☆☆☆
Writing: ★★★☆☆
Plot: ★☆☆☆☆

The Selection is a fantasy novel about a pageant of sorts held to determine the next queen of the main character's country, Iléa (located in North America). It's a dystopian novel, featuring, like many other dystopian novels do, a strict caste system, in this case organized by numbers. The main character, America (wow, really?), enters the Selection at her caste-climbing mother's insistance, and gets chosen as one of the 35 girls competing for Prince Maxon's hand and the crown of Iléa.

The first few page definitely don't draw the reader in, as they're devoted to explaining the caste system and the characters. Cass somehow manages to explain too much and too little about the world she's created, leaving the reader bored by her explanation, but still confused by the system as a whole. Basically, Iléa has this cast system wherein ones are royalty and eights are destitute, and this is based on the caste of your parents and your parents' parents and so on and so forth. And that's an issue,  so the royalty holds this selection for the next queen such that the next queen is chosen from the general population to build morale. The second problem with the beginning of this book is the way in which the characters are introduced: all at once. The beginning is really boring, but I persevered because it was recommended by Ms. Macer whom I like.

It gets a little better from there, though. Cass's sub-par characters interact in above-par ways in the America's secret tree house. It's hard to suspend disbelief and enjoy the book (America and her boyfriend are apparently doing illegal things by ~kissing~), but the problems they face and the way they react to them is somewhat interesting. In fact, until America left for the palace and the Selection, I was actually kind of enjoying the book.

However, once we move to the palace, the book just goes downhill. Fast. Prince Maxon is a stock, princely character that defies America's expectations and fits right into ours. He listens to everything she says, even providing food for the lower castes at her request, and is basically her prince charming. But she doesn't like that kinda guy, apparently. She likes the kinda guy who dumps her so that she can go marry a prince. And the ending is really, really bad too, because it doesn't end.

Basically, Keira Cass' first legitimately published novel is.... meh. The world she created is generic (see, The Hunger Games or Divergent for similar worlds), the characters are generic, and the plot is predictable. Although Cass' writing is strong, her weak plot and characters make her first non-self-published novel throughly unenjoyable. 

SNARKY PLOT SUMMARY (spoilers ahead)
In the beginning of the book, America, who is a five (half-way down the caste system), is dating Aspen, a six. That's illegal, or something, because... I don't really know. Cass never really explained it. But anyway, this letter comes in the mail and America's mom is super excited and so is her sister, but neither of them can enter because obviously the prince isn't going to marry a 40-year-old woman or a 12-year-old girl. But America doesn't want to go because she wants to marry Aspen, except that he doesn't want to marry her because he can't provide for her and he gets all emo when she cooks him dinner so he tells her to enter the Selection and then he just leaves.

So America enters the selection, much to her own chagrin and her mother's excitement, and ends up getting picked out of the thousands of girls in the competition, which is to be expected since she's kind of the main character. And then she goes to the palace and is all emo about losing Aspen and she keeps talking about how great his eyes are, so she's a total dick to the prince but he likes her anyway because she's honest. Or something.

So long story short Maxon ends up falling in love with America and America's still in love with Aspen except she hates him, so she kisses Maxon and then **surprise** Aspen shows up and is "Officer Leger."America makes out with him a bunch IN HER ROOM IN THE PALACE which is stupid because they're allowed to kill you if you do that because it's treason. 

But there's this jerk girl who keeps being jerky to everyone and her name is Celeste and Maxon likes her but America doesn't so ~~conflict~~.  And it gets really bad because there are all these terrorist attacks and Maxon's all "THIS IS DANGEROUS EVERYBODY EXCEPT THESE FOUR GIRLS GO HOME"

and then the book ends because there's a second one
which is stupid because she should have just ended it.


  1. I didn't like this book very much...The cover was so promising. Anyways, I enjoy your review.

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