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I really did enjoy 'The Selection'. Not only did it have a unique plot and storyline, but it was also the first dystopian I've read where no one has died, bled or been severely maimed or traumatized along the way. Not only did that make it a refreshing and unconventional read, but also a compelling one as well.
Written by Kiera Cass, the book follows the life of America Singer, a girl born to a family of lower class entertainers who live in a world where life is dictated by your caste number- where everything from your job to potential suitors is determined by social rank and status.
However, with the chance of gaining a better life for her family, America reluctantly signs herself up for the selection - a competition where 35 girls compete for the opportunity to become the wife of Prince Maxton, and in turn gain their family a level 1 royal rank with all its wealth and privileges. However with thousands of girls entering, America is shocked when she is chosen to become one of the competitors. So now she must battle it out with another 34 girls to win herself a life (and a man) she doesn't even want, especially as her heart has already been claimed by another...
Overall I thought this book had a unique charm, despite the fact that it had many of the typical young adult elements such as mean girls, makeovers and stunning dresses. However I felt the characters lacked something; particularly the secondary ones who I wished had a little more depth and well, personality. Yet having said that there was enough drama and plot twists to keep me distracted from these minor flaws.
As for America, she was an interesting main character who was often indecisive and occasionally humorous. I enjoyed her developing romance with Prince Maxton who I preferred over her child hood friend Aspen. However I'm curious to see what will become of their little love triangle, especially as the book ended rather abruptly with nothing really concluded - yet this also assures that I'll be reading the sequel!
Distinctive, intriguing and with a totally gorgeous cover, 'The Selection' made for a nice average read that despite a couple of nit-picks, I ultimately enjoyed. 3 ½ stars!
The Selection Kiera Cass
--- Book Synopsis ---
Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals...
It's the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon's love.
Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.
Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don't know is that America has a secret - one which could throw the whole competition... and change her life forever.
--- Review ---
I read The Selection by Keira Cass over a weekend, I found it a really fast read. I did enjoy it, it kept me entertained and the whole story seemed to flow well but the book lacked depth. There just wasn't enough background information about the world, the characters or the situations they found themselves in. And when there was information we had to learn for the story to make sense it was introduced in a big info dump rather than interwoven with the plot. For example the only background information the reader gets about the world of The Selection comes from a 'history lesson' that all the girls were made to attend. The history lesson just seemed to be dropped in because the author thought "oh wait a moment I better add some world building..." it just didn't work. It's was a dull way of doing something vital.
The story itself although entertaining was painfully predictable and bordering on a bit bland it seemed like something I had read before. In my opinion the story on a whole borrowed what felt like a few ideas from The Hunger Games and Wither (other popular YA) and mixed them around with a splattering of The Bachelor (American TV programme) and hey presto The Selection was created. I don't want to sound mean spirited, I did enjoy the story at points and I read the book in no time at all but it just felt like something else I had already read. The characters, the setting, the love triangle, it was all the elements that I have began to get tired of in a lot of other YA. Personally, I don't think The Selection is the pick of the bunch, especially if you are after an more original take on the dystopia genre.
America Singer wasn't a favourite character of mine. She was too perfect, too beautiful, too talented, too humble, too kind and with just the right amount of temper and stubbornness to make her 'stand out' from the crowd. PREDICTABLE, predictable, predictable and bland. She was also pushed around by all her love interests and didn't really seem to have any personality of her own.
However, I did like the character of Maxon, the Prince. He wasn't entirely what I had guessed right at the start and some of the chemistry between him and America was well written. Maxon alone just wasn't a strong enough character to win me completely over. I prefer my characters with some flaws, some spark and something to make them stand out from the wealth of great fiction out there.
Now my biggest problem with this book was that it didn't have an ending! Yes, that's what I said, no ending. It wasn't like what I would classify as a cliff hanger it was more like the author got tired and stopped mid story or mid chapter. I know that this is becoming more of a trend in the YA market with certain series but it's just a pet peeve of mine. Stories should have a beginning, middle and an end, complete with an exciting hook to make you want to pick up the next book, just don't stop somewhere that feels like the middle.
To sum, The Selection is fluff, pure and simple entertaining fluff. If you are in the mood for something rather mediocre or a rainy day read that doesn't require any real thought then this may just be the book for you. Otherwise, don't get pulled in by the pretty cover and wait for the release of all the books so you don't get irked by the non-ending and then have to wait at least a year for the next instalment.
The Selection was rather readable, it just lacked substance. Despite some of my more negative comments the book did manage to entertain me and even make me smile occasionally (in between some pretty intense eye rolling sessions). I of course will be reading the next book, because even despite the fact I could probably take a good guess at where the story is going I sometimes like a bit of fluff...
From me The Selection by Kiera Cass gets an underwhelming Two out of Five stars - it was just an ok read.
Genre - YA, dystopia/romance
Published by HarperCollins Children's Books (June 2012)
Paperback - 327 pages (£6.99)
I don't think I've ever been so torn about whether or not I wanted to read a book. Back when the cover was released, I fell in love. I know I'm not the only one. Because, seriously? That cover is Gorgeous with a capital 'G'. It totally is. I would die for that dress. Thinking about it makes me practically drool. Honestly. If I had that dress I would be the happiest person in the WORLD. (Ishould hire somebody to make it for me). And it's not just the dress, but the pose and the whole photograph is breath-takingly beautiful. It's so America's Next Top Model! Possibly my favourite book cover. Ever.
Now, enough cover talk! The synopsis sounded interesting, something that I'd maybe not have noticed if the cover was not what it was, because it's supposed to be a dystopia and I've been a bit bored with dystopias recently. I was so sure the insides would be as beautiful as the cover, but then I read a review from a highly-respected reviewer whose opinion I trust. A lot. And I felt a bit deflated. But that was nothing like the shock I felt when I found out that Kiera Cass, the author of The Selection had actually attacked this reviewer. The review was her honest opinion about the book and everybody is entitled to their own opinion whether it be positive or negative and even though I hate getting involved in this sort of drama, because as a teenage girl, I already get enough of that, it really annoyed me. I told myself that I wouldn't read it because of how the author behaved but...I wanted to read it, y'know? I really wanted to. And you know how there was negative reviews? There was also positive ones. From more reviewers/bloggers I trusted. They were five-star review, raving reviews about how absolutely amazing and amazing and amazing this book was. So what was a girl to do if not read the bloody book?
The relationship I had with The Selection when I finished reading was simple: love-hate. Well, as simple as love-hate can be! There were various problems I had, but also things I really loved. I'm going to start with the bad things because that's how I roll...(and I'm bullet-pointing because it's easier)
+The names. I liked America, but Singer as her surname? When she was a singer? What a coincidence! Meh. And...Tiny?
+It's labeled as dystopian, but didn't feel like one at all, except for the fact that there were caste-systems that were pretty Hunger-Games-style.
+Prince Max. He was nothing like what I'd thought he'd be! America really hates him at first, even though she doesn't actually know him and because of this I expected him to be this outgoing, cheeky yet shy guy BECAUSE OF what she thinks, but he...wasn't. To be honest, it sounded like he was a lot older than he was. I mean, he kept calling America 'dear' and it sounded all wrong and just a tad creepy. I dunno, it just did. I couldn't picture him as being a future king. He just seemed to naive.
+The ending was horrible. I actually read the eGalley version on my Kindle, and didn't even realise that it had ended until I saw the acknowledgements. You could see that as being a good thing, because I was into the story and didn't notice, but it just felt unfinished to me. The actual Selection wasn't even like, finished. If I was you, I'd probably read this like, the day before the sequel comes out unless you don't mind huge cliffhangers and having to wait a year or so for the next book.
+Not another series! If it was just a contemporary YA instead of this complex dystopian business, it could've been a standalone read that Iwould really enjoy. Unfortunately, now we have to WAIT. And I *hate* waiting.
+Not another LOVE TRIANGLE. It was too cliched for me and didn't work.
+I really liked the idea of it. I don't think there is many stories like this in YA. We have angels and vampires and werewolves and mermaids and faeries, but where are the good 'ole princesses? It has been my lifelong dream to be a princess, so it would be pretty awesome if I could pretend I was in the book, as a princess. Or something.
+Like Wendy Darling (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/231455953) said, if the author had chosen to write this as a fairy-tale, I think it would've much better. The dystopian aspect made it quite confusing and just didn't work, in my opinion, whereas I think I might've really loved it if it was written as this really romantic, happily-ever-after fairy-tale.
+Um. The cover.
+The first couple of chapters were fabulous. Quite swoony if I'm honest. Like I said above, I WANT THIS TO BE A FAIRY-TALE. The first bit would've been a perfect start to a fairy-tale. *dreams on* I'M A TEENAGE GIRL OK.
+The descriptions of the castle and dresses. Um, drool much?
+If I put my issues aside, some of the story itsef was actually good fun and something different to read.
Despite whatever I read, read? said. Despite whatever I said, I *am* going to read the sequel when it comes out and I will let y'all know how that works out for me. Hopefully, it'll be worth my time but I'm not expecting much.
(high-fives to you if you read all of that and actually got something out of it!)
"...true love is usually the most inconvenient kind."