Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Release Date: June 2012
Publisher: Harper Collins
Received from publisher.
1st book in a series.
In a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels THE SELECTION is the chance of a lifetime to compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s heart. But for America Singer it means turning her back on a secret love, and leaving home for a prize she doesn’t want.
Then America meets Maxon and all her plans start to crumble. Can the life she’s always dreamed of compare to a future she never imagined?
Wow! What a book! 'The Selection' was a book that I wasn't sure I would like. It has had some really hyped-up rave reviews and a fair amount of reviews by disappointed readers too. When I started 'The Selection' I thought I'd definitely hate the prince and would want to get my feminist claws out and tear the whole thing apart. How wrong was I?!
Whether you're a fan of reality TV shows or not you'll have to admit this is definitely an interesting idea for a story. A dystopian world where girls enter a contest to become the future princess? It is definitely unlike anything I have ever read. I'm not a huge fan of girls competing for the attention of a guy who seems to have everything, but the way the story was written, the characters stance on the issue and the dystopian setting all seemed to have warped the idea into something different again. I'm a bit of a feminist (okay, "bit" is an understatement), but there were so many other reasons that these girls were entering the contest (not just for the prince) and the prince didn't exactly get much say in whether or not there was a contest. It's not exactly the horrible sexist insta-love inducing book I had expected...
We see the story take place through the eyes of America Singer. She's a number 5 (a caste of people who are artists of some kind), she's got brilliant red hair and she comes from a big family that is struggling to make ends meet. I really adored America. She's got a cool name, she's not afraid to say what she thinks (but she can keep secrets when she needs to) and she thinks the contest is a big fat waste of time. She reminded me of Gemma Doyle from the 'Gemma Doyle' trilogy by Libba Bray (not just because of the hair), but because she's stubborn, she's constantly forced to choose between what she wants and what's expected of her, And she's holding onto all these little bits of information that she's not sharing with anyone. I think America is a very mature character and that she'd be a great princess.
This book features a love triangle. I know what you're thinking, but trust me it's not your typical love triangle. I felt that the two relationships contrasted widely and positioned me to see that perhaps the contest isn't such a bad thing. Aspen (America's first love) is of a lower caste and is a family friend. You would think from that information that he would be the man of choice. I felt differently. Aspen may be poorer, but it hasn't done anything for his personality. He feels because he has a lack of money and status that he has to act a certain way to make up for it. He is very proud and he feels ashamed to have America cook for him or spend money on him. He was also guilty of not thinking about the consequences and shooing off America in order to "protect" her.
Prince Maxon on the other-hand doesn't have a problem with America helping him. He may seem like a snob, but the contest is simply a legacy that he must fulfill. One of the great things about Maxon is that readers can learn that men or love-interests or whatever you want to call them aren't invincible and do need love and care in return; Love is a two sided thing.
Even though it seems like Prince Maxon has it all, he's missed out on some of the most important things in life (like friendship) and he's definitely more of a gentleman. I think if girls are going to lust over any book character Maxon would definitely be one of the better ones. I'd definitely wear a 'Team Maxon' T-shirt!
I thought the idea of a caste system was pretty awesome. Not that I would like people to be considered lower that anyone else because of their caste in real life, but because it shows us as readers not to judge someone because of their family, race or job. In this story there are castes within castes, caste climbers and caste etiquette.
What I liked about Prince Maxon and America's relationship is that it was slow moving. They decided to be friends and it grew into something different. I think this is a nice way to write romance into a story without creating that Insta-love that gets so much hate from reviewers.
Overall, 5/5 stars and a favourite. I absolutely loved it and felt like it ended too soon (like all good books)! If you like dystopian fiction I definitely recommend 'The Selection'. Also, please don't dismiss this book because it's about a princess competition!
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