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.
I can’t believe that I held off on reading this book, for so long. I really wished that I read it sooner. While I’m not so much a lover of dystopian books, I do like to get lost in them from time to time. This book is kind of like The Bachelor meets Hungry Games without the violence and bow and arrows. Just gowns and high heels instead.LOL If you go onto Goodreads, you will see this comparison quite a bit in other people’s reviews.
Also, it seems that the CW was going to be turning this book into a TV series, but it wasn’t picked up. Kind of bummed, but I thought I would feature the actors that were selected according to IMDp, though it may have been recast again. Maybe the show will come to fruition in the fall.
There are a few reasons why I loved this book so much. First, Kiera actually takes the time to explain how the world got to this point. I find that information is sometimes left out of other dystopian books I’ve read. We get to hear about it, in a history class of sorts, that the contestants attend. It is really smart, but kind of scary, because it could happen.
There are now eight castes in this society that is ruled by a monarchy. Prince Maxon is bound to choose his future wife from his home country of Ilea (the future United States). The Selection is a contest where 35 girls compete for the attention and honor of marrying the Prince. For some of the girls, Maxon is the prize. For a few others, it is the crown. For America Singer, it’s neither. Her heart belongs to Aspen Leger. He is one caste lower than her, but that doesn’t matter to her. Aspen only wants the best future for America, so he pushes her to apply for The Selection. She does it for him and her family, for as long as she is at the palace and a part of the competition, her family is compensated. She is from the Five caste, which are entertainers and artists, just barely surviving sometimes. Just being a part of The Selection moves her up to a Three, when she is done. It is very difficult to move up more than one caste, without marrying up, so this is a big deal that will affect the rest of her life.
That is her goal though, when she arrives, to be sent home, before too much damage is done. After an interesting first encounter with Maxon, a friendship is formed between the two. She agrees to help Maxon find the best partner, since she isn’t interested. Their relationship is quite funny and sweet. Maxon isn’t the cold, uptight person that he appears to be in public. At least not with America.
Here’s another reason why I love this book. Honesty. Both America and Maxon are completely up front with each other about their feelings. America is not the wishy washy teenager you would expect. Because of the reasons why she put herself in the contest, she tells Maxon about the love she left behind, and she asks Maxon to keep her there so she can provide for her family.
Excerpt from Chapter 10:
I couldn’t let that hope build in me. I needed to hate him right now. That anger would keep me going. Staying as far away from him as I could for as long as possible was half my reason for being here.
But the hope ached. And with the hope came homesickness, wishing May was sneaking into my bed like she sometimes did. And the fear that the other girls wanted me gone, that they might keep trying to make me feel small. And then nervousness at being presented to the nation on television for as long as I was here. And terror that people might try to kill me just to make a political statement. It all came at me too fast for my dizzy head to compute after such a long day.
Excerpt from Chapter 15:
“Maxon, I hope you find someone you can’t live without. I really do. And I hope you never have to know what it is like to have to try and live without them.”
Maxon may not understand the feelings that he has for America as they change, but he doesn’t play games with her either. He wants to make the right decision, and wants her help to do that. He feels like he is getting the inside scoop from her, and a female’s point of view on understanding women in general. He learns so much more about his country and its citizens from her, than anyone else in his life. Her friendship means everything to him.
Excerpt from Chapter 18:
“Somewhere in this palace, there is a woman who will be your wife.”
I saw his mouth twitch, the beginning of a hopeful smile.
“Maybe you don’t know which face it is yet, but think of the girls in that room. Imagine the one who loves you the most. Imagine your ‘dear.'”….
“This girl? Imagine that she depends on you. She needs you to cherish her and make her feel like the Selection didn’t even happen. Like if you were dropped on your own out in the middle of the country to wander door to door, she’s still the one you would have found. She was always the one you would have picked.”….
“She needs you to provide for her and protect her. And if it came to a point where there was absolutely nothing to eat, and you couldn’t even fall asleep at night because the sound of her stomach growling kept you awake-”
That was probably one of my favorite scenes in the book. Not just because of how America made Maxon realize what is happening with his poorer citizens, but also because of what he does with this clarity. You also get to see how genuine these two are with each other. It’s refreshing to read. I can only handle so much game playing when reading YA books. This book is not like that. While the country may see the Selection as a game, Maxon doesn’t see it that way.
Time and time again, Maxon proves his loyalty, not only to America, but to the other girls as well. When the palace is attacked, not just once, but twice, he allows girls to choose to go home both times. Then he makes the serious decision to choose six girls to be The Elite, instead of ten, because he is so concerned for their safety. The mystery behind the attacks is something that Maxon shares with America, because even he can’t figure out who’s behind them.
America does everything in her power to protect her three maids, because in her mind, they deserve the same protection from attack, that she does. It’s quite admirable. It’s another reason why I adore these characters.
Aspen also surprises me on more than one occasion. He wants to support America and her future, because he doesn’t think he can provide for her. Just when America thinks she can put her feelings for Aspen aside until she is home again, she is presented with having him in her life. Still she is upfront with him as well, because of her new obligation and friendship with Maxon. Her feelings for both of them keep her on edge.
By the end, we know that she will have to choose. That is what is made me jump to buy the next book, The Elite.
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
I have to tell you I completely adored this book. It was an incredible read, and I could not stop thinking about it, when I would put it down to work or sleep. It actually kept me up at night. I would lie in bed, and think about this story and the characters. I’m still thinking about it. That comparison of this series being The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games? Well, the first book is definitely The Bachelor. This one, The Hunger Games. It takes a darker turn that I didn’t see coming.
I will say that for a majority of the series, I am mostly Team Maxon, but something is revealed that made me question him for a moment. But then I thought about it, and America is kind of doing the same thing with Aspen, so it made me not be too harsh about Maxon.
Despite the more violent turn, there are some very sweet highlights. I personally love America’s family when they get to come visit the palace. Her father is so wonderful, that he made me tear up. The letters he writes to her, are perfect. We also get to know more about the girls that are still a part of competition. I guess I needed to be reminded of that. This is a competition for Maxon, and the crown. Something that is not being taken lightly by Maxon’s father, the king. His presence and influence become very clear in this book. America’s maids are another favorite. Lucy especially. She shares a private moment about her experience with love to America’s sister, May. It’s very poignant.
Excerpt from Chapter 7:
Lucy’s smile was sad. “It’s the most wonderful and terrible thing that can ever happen to you.” She said simply. “You know that you’ve found something amazing, and you want to hold on to it forever; and every second after you have it, you fear the moment you might lose it.”
I sighed softly. She was absolutely right. Love is beautiful fear.
There isn’t a cliffhanger at the end, but I wish we didn’t have to wait so long for the next book, The One. This is just means that I will definitely be reading this one again.
The Prince, is a novella that I also highly recommend. Like the title implies, it is the beginning part of The Selection told from Maxon’s point of view. There aren’t huge revelations in this, but he did have someone in his life before The Selection started, he didn’t really know it, until it’s just too late. Somehow I feel that tidbit of information will be important in the future books.
Excerpt from Chapter 6:
I wanted to make a good first impression with these girls–and a good second impression with one–and apparently I was convinced that this all hung on picking out the right tie. I sighed. These girls were already turning me into a puddle of stupid.
Got to love a guy who knows the importance of accessorization! LOL
I give The Selection and The Elite 5 adoring stars, and put them on both my “top-shelf fantastic read” and “books that own me” shelf on Goodreads. The Prince goes on my “favorite” and “top-shelf fantastic read” shelf as well, with 4 outstanding stars.