Published by HarperTeen
Published January 1, 2012
Synopsis: For thirty-five girls, The Selection is an opportunity of a lifetime. This is the time for them to escape the life that's been laid out for them for generations before them. The Selection brings glittering gowns, priceless jewels, and a grand palace with charming Prince Maxon. Although this seems like a dream, it is a nightmare to America Singer. To her this means leaving behind her family and her secret love, Aspen, to join a competition for a crown she doesn't even want. Then, America meets Prince Maxon and she begins to question all the plans she made for herself. She realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to the future she never imagined.
I was really not expecting myself to enjoy this book as much as I did. Surprisingly, I found this book to be very addicting --- I could not will myself to put it down! The plot was a bit predictable, but the world building was very satisfying. I liked how Kiera Cass developed the society and really included a political theme in this story. It reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games and Divergent with the different castes, but it was also like a reality dating show like The Bachelor.
My favorite aspect of this book was the characters. Although there were many side characters, they were each individually developed and set up with different personalities. Despite the multitude of characters, Kiera Cass did a great job in emphasizing who we were focusing on. The relationships between America and the other girls were very interesting to read about. Some of the competition were snarky and rude, but others were kind and ambivalent, so it was fascinating to see how America went about dealing with all the girls. It was also lovely watching America stay true to herself. I've read many novels where the protagonist always changes to suit the needs of others, but America makes it clear from the beginning that she will not permit being stepped all over. In all honesty, it was also truly hard for me to be fond of every single character in this book --- and I'm talking about you, Aspen.
The one thing that had me swooning in my seat was the connection between Prince Maxon and America. I found the chemistry between them to be very pure and innocent. It was endearing that it started off as a friendship, because from there you can really see when they realize their feelings for each other. There are subtle actions that pass between the two of them in secrecy throughout the story that had me blushing along with America. Prince Maxon was a gentlemen with quite the charm from the beginning and continued to prove his good soul. He isn't the stuck-up, arrogant, royal type who lounges around all day expecting to have women drooling all over him. Instead he is very responsible for his actions, analytical, and determined to set things straight in his country. Kudos to you, Maxon.
I thought the idea of having The Bachelor meet dystopia was something that had great potential and Kiera Cass did hit that mark. Of course theres the unrequited love triangle that I wanted to avoid, but we'll find out what happens in the sequel. It was quite amusing to read about all these girls fighting over a boy and running rampant around a palace, but it was able to get some good chuckles out of me. The plot was very straightforward; as soon as the main conflict was introduced, it stuck to it. This made it a pretty quick read, as there weren't any twists and turns, or action-packed drama. Overall it was a good read and I am excited to see what happens in The Elite.