HarperTeen, 327 Pages
US Release Date: April 24, 2012
Challenges: Local Library Challenge, Debut Author Challenge
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.
In my experience, true love is usually the most inconvenient kind.
Obviously, I had expectations going into this book. There's been such a hype for it all year that there was no way I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried. I mean, I've heard every opinion under the sun about this book. My expectations were hesitant because the things I knew about it weren't really appealing: I can't stand the Bachelor shows (some of the worst brain rotting television, in my opinion) and I'm not generally a fan of the CW - so for them to not even pick up the pilot...well. That says something.
Though I am a fan of Ethan Peck. Yes ma'am I am.
So let's go the easy route and go with a pro/con list. Start with the bad!
- America. I know, the main damn character! She was largely a reason why I was kept up at night. She just pisses me off so much, and I get so frustrated with her choices and opinions. I find her to be selfish for a large part of the novel, which is terribly complicated since she's in the Selection to provide for her family! It seems like an unselfish reason (and it is), but that she's using the royal contest when there are millions of other girls who would die to be in her place for its actual function? Selfish.
- Aspen. I hate him.
- America and Aspen's relationship. I just did not see any value to it. I know we're supposed to assume it's a great relationship for having sustained in secret for 2 years, and he was sweet in the opening, but I just could not stand it after awhile. He was horrible and mean and to just let it go the way he did? Unacceptable. And for the record, she fell and he caught her?! I call massive shenanigans. Get your head out of your ass, America.
- Prince Maxon. I fell for him so much faster than I thought I would. The commanding voice telling the guards to let her into the gardens? BE STILL MY HEART.
- It's a fast read. Some of the beginning is a bit weird for some reason (couldn't quite pinpoint why), but less than 50 pages in and I was sucked in entirely. It really is like watching bad reality TV: I just couldn't turn away, I had to know!
- Handling a cast of 35 girls in writing is tough, but done well here. Just enough were highlighted to really be like a contest, but still manageable to a reader.
- The history lesson. While most of the world-building was lacking, the history lesson was a smart move on the writer's part. I thought that was helpful and enabled me to understand the world they live in.
- The Singer family. America's family isn't perfect, but they love each other and understand the sacrifices they need to make for each other. I like their relationship.
- The peeks into the Dystopian world. Like the rebel divisions that Maxon thinks exist, and how it seems they're searching for something specific. Even though it's all cliff-hanger-y goodness, I'm quite intrigued!
- America's ladies in waiting. I love that they're a respectable part of the novel, that they play a larger part than just the girls who dress America. They each have stories and strength, which I appreciated.
- Prince Maxon and America's relationship. Even though I don't really like America, I do like hers and Maxon's friendship/relationship hybrid. They're good together, and I liked their interactions and secret ear tugs and smiles together.
I think the big thing someone has to know when going into this book is that it's not some tough, hardcore Dystopian. It has a set-up to be, but it's largely a romance book. Its focus is the love story and Prince Maxon finding a future wife and Queen; not on the war and attacks and Ilea's imminent doom. I do think it'll come in Book 2 though - at least, I hope so! I want to know about these attacks and rebels! As far as I'm concerned, this is a romance contemporary book masquerading as a Dystopian.
To further show my indecision, The Selection made me make a whole new rating. While I enjoyed it immensely and want to enter into the Selection myself to win Prince Maxon's heart, I'm just so damn bothered by America and Aspen I can't overlook it. I'm too dang torn!