Release Date: April 24, 2012
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the 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. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. - Goodreads.com
Perhaps it's my silly love of reality television, but this book and its concept hit me just right. I absolutely adored The Selection, its characters and the author's writing in this first book and the entire concept of a reality dating show to find a prince a wife. It was very The Bachelor meets dystopian in a society where the caste system dictates what level of wealth you live in, what job you work and therefore what your future earnings will be, and even who you'll be eligible to marry.
While we're on the subject of their caste society, I want to say how much I loved the detail that the author put in around their society. I could almost see myself there and understand exactly what their world looked like, how they had to pinch and save to survive and to eat. But despite all that, you just had to love how optimistic and happy her family was together, how much they loved each other, and what a sweet family they were. Enter Aspen, her longtime friend who happens to exist in a slightly lower caste than her. The unique differences and challenges that exist in her being a Five and him being a Six was so sad, but very subtle. And those subtle differences can cause their love to be a forbidden and impossible thing.
When America is chosen as one of 35 girls to vie for the hand of Prince Maxon, you think this girl is going to get lost in the chaos of the other girls and the contest itself. But far from it, America's personality, and her desire to do this only so she can earn more money for her family, give her a depth and realness that makes her all the more irresistible to the prince. Some of my favorite parts of the story are their interactions together, and the sweet friendship that grows between them.
Is there a clearcut winner of this love triangle for me? Not at all. I had a very difficult time figuring out just which of these two great guys I would want to see her with. I expected Maxon to be slightly off, owning some subtle character flaw that would make me dislike him a little, but in actuality, he was a great guy with a great heart and spirit. And although Aspen's behavior kind of pissed me off at times, I loved him too. My heart is completely divided between these two guys.
Kiera Cass' writing was just perfect. The story sucked me in completely almost from the first page, and although I was expecting to find the entire concept of "The Bachelor" tv show set in a dystopian to be silly, I didn't. It was actually weaved into the story so well. The pacing was perfect. There were no parts in this story where I grew bored or started to skim... it had me with every word. An awesome first installment to what is clearly going to be a great new series.
If you liked this book, be looking for the next installment, The Elite, in 2013!