Title: The Selection Series
Author: Kiera Cass
No. of Pages: 1,056
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: April 2012, April 2013, May 2014
“For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The chance 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, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.
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.”
My Thoughts: I first read The Selection shortly after it was published and loved it. America is refreshing, not quite as capable as Katniss or Tris but still powerful and independent in her own right. Plus, the way she speaks her mind and is not caught up in the trappings of the palace makes her a special type of heroine. The love triangle of the first book is mostly concluded by the end of it, and I was really looking forward to finding out what happens to Maxon and America.
A funny thing happens after the first book though. The story devolves into a “he loves me/he hates me/I love him/I hate him” carousel that never really ends. What I thought was decided towards the end of the first book does not really achieve resolution until the end of The One. Frankly, the back-and-forth relationship angst gets old very, very quickly. It gets so bad that I ended up skimming most of The Elite and good chunks of The One as well. I wanted to knock the various characters’ heads together in an effort for them to see the light and just end the unnecessary drama.
As irritated as I was through almost the entirety of books two and three, I could not stop myself from racing through them. I wanted to make sure America got the happily ever after that she deserves, and the romantic in me wanted to see it all unfold. Maxon is so darn cute in his awkward romance that I adored almost every one of his scenes. America’s inability to make a decision was annoying, but I never stopped rooting for her.
The other element of the series that was done really well was explaining how the USA became the Kingdom of Illea. Given our own debts to China and other national powers, it is all too easy to imagine how something like this could happen. The true motives behind Gregory Illea are equally chilling and also way too easy to envision given our current President-Elect. Ms. Cass has obviously given her world careful thought, and it shows in the little details interspersed throughout the narrative. Hers is one of the few dystopian series that gives a very clear history that connects the dots between current and fictional worlds.
In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed The Selection Series and am trying to hold off on diving into the last two novels. There is something about the commoner becoming a princess that never grows old, and Ms. Cass capitalizes on that fantasy with America, who lives out every little girl’s dream but stays true to herself in spite of the maids and luxury that surround her upon stepping foot in the palace. Her growing relationship with Maxon is fraught with tension but built not from lust but genuine friendship and mutual admiration. It is a realistic fairy tale that entertains and engages the imagination while soothing the romantic’s heart.