Discussion: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Aug
08
7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: 3 stars, Discussion, Dystopian

Book: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: April 24, 2012
Source: Borrowed ebook from library
 
Summary from Goodreads: 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.

I’m trying something different today. Instead of straight-up reviewing this book, I want to open it up for discussion. I’d like to try focusing less on dissecting a book and more on analyzing my experience of reading it. Please join me in the comments!

**As this is a discussion, please be aware that there will be some slight spoilers!**

Let me start by saying this – I liked this book. But I recognize that this book has a capital-H-History, particularly on Goodreads. I was not expecting to like this one because of some of the reviews I read by people who I find to be trustworthy.

Yet. It’s YA! It’s dystopian! It has a Bachelor-like competition! What could there possibly be not to like? So when I saw it available through the library, I figured I’d go for it.

And I liked it. Really liked it, in fact. The writing was breezy, the characters were interesting, the competition was heating up…so I started to wonder what the big deal was with this book. I texted my sister, who also loves a good YA dystopian, and asked if she could read it if I bought her a copy. She could, and she did. Hooray for discussion! We texted about it for a while (much like we had with Divergent), and I started to realize that though I recognized many of the book’s flaws, I still liked the book. Thus the need for a discussion post.

The love story

Putting aside the bad names, I found America and Maxon to have good chemistry. A good love interest will carry me pretty far through a series (Twilight, I’m looking at you, kid), and I found the scenes with America and Prince Maxon to be delightful and full of the intense awkwardness of teen love. It’s that kind of realism that I connect with as an avid YA reader, and it took me back to thoughts of my own first kisses and first dates.

My sister didn’t find the America and Maxon love story believable, however. It irritated her that America could act like the horrible wench that undoubtedly makes it on The Bachelor every year, and yet we (and Maxon) were expected to not want her to get kicked off. She treats Maxon like dirt, is still in love with Aspen back home, and is staying in the competition for the food and money. She’s in it for all the wrong reasons, but Maxon agrees to keep her around. In my sister’s view, this makes America unlikeable and Maxon a fool.

I, however, appreciated that America was up front with Maxon. On The Bachelor, we only ever despise the girls keeping secrets about former boyfriends or illicit affairs with producers or who are in it for the wrong reasons but keep playing the game. America’s not hiding anything – she admits she has feelings for an old boyfriend at home, and that she needs to stay to help out her starving family. That Maxon lets her stay, while also hoping to win her heart anyway, is a nice gesture. America is more real with him than any of the other contestants, so why not let her stay? In my view, Maxon was simply grasping at anything that had substance over superficiality. Does that really make him a fool?

Root, root, root for the…

My two major complaints with the book were that A) the world history didn’t make a lot of sense and was thrown in without much context; and B) that there was no conclusion to the story. I would have liked more information on the growing conflict outside the palace walls (and sometimes within the palace walls). What do the rebels want? Who do we, as readers, want to win? I needed a cause to root for, other than just hoping that the poorer castes get a better life. I also really, really wanted to see the competition through to the end. I felt the ending of this book did not have a natural or satisfying conclusion.

So yes, there were some problems, but I still found America and her situation to be a cool way to explore young love. It’s fun to watch these strangers try to navigate their forced camaraderie, and discover that they both care about their country and doing what’s right. I want to see what happens next, and how America deals with her feelings for Aspen and her growing feelings for Maxon.

Have you read this book? Did you find the love story believable? If you haven’t read it, do you plan to? Let’s talk!

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system



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7 Responses to “Discussion: The Selection by Kiera Cass”

  1. Mallory says:

    Ok, I don’t usually comment on your blog, but I’m in this one 😉

    I get where you’re coming from, with America being straight up with Maxi Pad (can I please call him that?!), whereas bachelor contestants usually aren’t. So, I guess I can let that bit slide.

    I still need more of the history of this world. That’s the whole point in dystopian fiction. We need to know why the world changed the way it did. I would be totally fine with the ending if I had any idea where the book was going. I have no problem with cliffhangers, but this just felt unfinished. Like you said, who do we root for? Who are the rebels? And for the love of god, can someone please tell me how we even ended up with a caste system in the first place?

    Also, does everyone’s last name need to reflect their occupation?

    • Logan says:

      Hi seester! Glad you chimed in.

      Did anyone else have a last name? I don’t even remember. And yes, you can call him Maxi Pad. Pad can be his last name, though maybe it should be Doormat.

      I’m with you on not knowing where it’s going. I’m curious enough to want to keep reading, and I’m hoping we get more background info in book two (as I’ve heard is also the case with Insurgent). It could go in any direction, which is simultaneously exhilirating and frustrating.

  2. Well, shoot! I’ve not read this one yet so I won’t be able to participate. This ones on my TBR list and if I read it I will be back to comment/discuss. This is a fun idea and I would enjoy chiming in if I had something to offer.

  3. Bookworm1858 says:

    I was kind of mad at myself for loving this book after its history but it’s just my kind of book! I agree with you about the world-building and rebels (and boy did I loathe Aspen after he broke America’s heart) but I can forgive a lot when i like the love story of America and Maxon so much.

    • Logan says:

      I know! Aspen could not redeem himself after that. Yuck. And that stupid misunderstanding about the girl in the crowd didn’t work for me. Should we believe him? I didn’t want to.


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