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 a palace and compete for the heart of 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.
Holy moly. Think The Bachelor meets post-apocalyptic dystopian world meets the elegance of Victorian-era monarchy. In other words, I am OBSESSED.
For a while now, I’ve wondered whether reading has taken the back-burner to more important things, or if I simply haven’t been reading the right books. Now I know — it’s the latter. I was up way into the wee hours reading this, before proceeding to read it while brushing teeth, eating, in transit, in lectures, and everywhere else until I finished it. When I couldn’t read, this book was constantly in my thoughts (and my dreams). But it was so worth it.
Two particularly noteworthy (and perhaps cautionary) points that probably polarize readers —
The Dystopian Aspect: A lot of dystopian books have dragged for me lately. The “world” is always the same, the plot is always some variation of the same themes of freedom and revolution, the voice is too innocent (before turning too jaded), and all the characters are too similar. And don’t get me wrong — The Selection has its fair share of dystopian tropes. But somehow it worked, grabbing me from the first sentence and not letting go.
The Love Aspect: I must admit I’m such a sucker for The Bachelor/Bachelorette, and I loved seeing those cliches play out in this completely different, surreal setting. I normally get so aggravated by love-triangles, especially those with insecure protagonists who constantly need to be reassured that, yes, both boys really do love her (even though loving them both is reason enough for both of them to stop loving her). But somehow I remained by America’s side, cheering her on, and grateful that she found a way to stand on her own two feet at the end of the novel. Whenever America was with either of her love interests, I found myself wishing she stayed with him (rather than the other guy), just as I do with The Bachelor/ette. I find this a pretty incredible feat considering authors often clearly show their intentions and favoured relationship (by ruining the other one). I was extremely satisfied that America took matters into her own hands rather than letting all her problems resolve themselves.
As for the setting, I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to “fall in love” and “experience the world” than the palace. I loved how each girl wore elegant dresses, learned proper etiquette, and received coaching on “proper” conduct. I’ve always fallen in love with the luxe life, and this book brought the opulence and excitement of experiencing such beauty for the first time. Everyone wants to be treated like royalty every now and then, right? This book brings the FUN along with serious political issues and heartwrenching inner conflict.
I AM IN LOVE.
- The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
- The Testing – Joelle Charbonneau
- The Distance Between Us – Kasie West