Knowing my love of royalty, you might guess I’d be intrigued by the premise of The Selection: the country of Illea is ruled by a royal family, but the prince needs a princess. 35 young women, one from each state, are selected to move to the palace. Prince Maxon will select one of them to be his princess and future Queen of Ilea.
From the moment the book arrived, my teenage daughter and I were both excited about it. The dystopian genre is huge in young adult fiction these days, and who can resist a little romance?
I snagged the book first, and I enjoyed it. How about a little back-and-forth on the book from my daughter and me? Her comments will be in italics.
A Royal Romance
I kept thinking of similarities between America Singer (the book’s heroine, and one of the selected girls) & Prince Maxon, and Prince William & Kate. After all, while Kate wasn’t part of an actual announced competition, she certainly did compete to be Duchess of Cambridge in many ways. Remember how enrollment at St Andrew’s, where Prince William went to university, soared when he arrived? Maxon mentions reasons for keeping various girls in the competition: this one is from a region that the royal family needs to curry favor with. This one is popular with the people. Actually, it also reminded me a lot of things I read when Prince Charles and Princess Diana were dating.
The Selection is basically the young adult version of The Hunger Games + The Bachelor. It’s very interesting to read. The strange names are a little distracting, and I don’t know why the author thought it was a good idea to name the main character America Singer just because she’s a singer who lives in North America.
It was intriguing to read about society in Illea — a caste system where people are born a number, from the lofty 1’s to the servant 8’s. I could imagine how frustrating it must feel to live in a place where your social status was decided at birth, and you really had no way to advance yourself.
Then, imagine America’s family’s excitement when she was selected as one of the girls vying for Maxon’s affections — I say America’s family, because America herself isn’t exactly thrilled (you’ll have to read the book to learn why).
I also liked reading about the caste system. However, the book sort of gave out its own spoilers – for example, obviously America is going to be chosen as one of the girls to compete in the selection, it’s on the cover. Then, the second book is called The Elite, so obviously America is going to make it to the elite. This didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, but it just seemed a little strange that the beginning was supposed to be suspenseful (ooh, will she be one of the selected? I’m not sure…).
The Selection Wins
I just finished reading the Beautiful Creatures series, and I liked The Selection much better. The characters are likable and easy to relate to, the friendships America forms seem real, and the book isn’t wordy or repetitive. It’s easy to finish in a day.
I loved reading about the gorgeous dresses America’s maids created for her, and about the palace’s ornate furnishings and exquisite gardens.
I liked how Maxon’s mother, Queen Amberly, was included in the novel. She had a unique back story that added to the plot depth and made me want to read the rest of the series to find out what happens to her.
Although he’s a prince, I still pitied Maxon, with his life in a fishbowl: “Imagine how embarrassing it is to have your parents watch as you attempt to date for the first time” (side note: this also reminded me of the Duggar family of “19 Kids and Counting.” I pity their kids for the same reason).
America and Maxon’s relationship feels predictable at times, but is still fun to read. At times, I felt sad that Aspen was there at all – it felt like he was in the way. Yet without him, a selection would not even be taking place.
Moms and Teens Alike Enjoy The Selection
As a mom, I appreciated that this particular dystopian world didn’t involve killing or violence, and the romance was all PG-rated. This is truly a book moms and daughters can both enjoy, guilt-free. Even those who aren’t typically big readers will find something to enjoy and identify with, from the romance to the various types of girls in the competition, to the ever-evolving view of Prince Maxon: is he an empty suit, or is there more to him than originally meets the eye?
I would say that the romance in this book would be considered either PG or PG-13. Although I wouldn’t consider it inappropriate for a teenager to read, there are romantic elements that could be uncomfortable for some mothers and daughters to read about together. However, one thing that makes this book unique is the love triangle, which is different from those in other young adult novels. It’s difficult for you as a reader to choose a side because both Maxon and Aspen seem to be genuine and kind, both equally deserving of America. Each scene changes your mind, which made it fun to read.
Cass’s writing style is very easy to read and the book reads quickly, making it great to take along on spring break or summer vacation. And you can do that, because The Selection is just book #1 in the series. There’s also The Elite, The One, and The Heir (launching May 5).
I would not be surprised to see this made into a movie in the near future. I already have the second and third books on hold!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #CG