Castes and Castles (and Strawberry tarts): The Selection by Kiera CassThursday, June 06, 2013
The Selection (The Selection #1)
by Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult - Dystopian
Expected Publication: April 24, 2012
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.
Hearing about this book for the first time, I can't just not pick it up as soon as possible. It might not have the newest and most unique plot in YA today, but there's just something about The Selection—which I can't quite put a finger on—that separates it from the others. The book itself (and the author) has its own one-of-a-kind magic that enthralled and captivated me throughout the whole story.
Her writing also augmented the likeability of the characters. The inner thoughts and dialogue of America were a great aid to her character development. What I admired about America the most was how she managed to be everything at the same time. Funny, compassionate, determined, competent, resolute, but also immature and unreasonable at times. She's a great character but definitely not a Mary-Sue*. Her errors and mistakes allowed more room for improvement. Although, frankly, as the book neared its end, her decisions and actions became more bothersome and disturbing already.
As for America's love interests, they were a bit inconstant. Let's just say Aspen and Maxon were a little bipolar. Still, given all the situations and dilemmas they're in, it was understandable. It might not be that commendable of them, but I think it's what made them seem very human and relatable.
One thing I also like to compliment is how the author didn't entirely focus on the love triangle (which, unfortunately, is the new trend in YA today—the plot is pushed farther in the background in order for the love stuff to be the spotlight of the story). The summary gave what it promised. There was the whole tough competition for the crown & prince, backstage drama, a hint of family conflict, and the hindrances of a dystopian society. I certainly felt myself rooting for America and groaning during the Celeste scenes. It's like reality television printed on paper. I did not just read about America's story. Kiera Cass let me experience the story with her (America).
In terms of the content of the book as a whole, all I can say is that it kept me reading. It maintained suspense and constantly surprised me. I don't know if it's a good or bad thing, but there was a lot of foreshadowing and mystery going on. I surely was disappointed and unsatisfied with the answers I got—or the lack of them. It wasn't just enough. But it made me look forward to The Elite even more.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Selection. It was something more light and a bit deviating from the typical dystopian stories. Hard to put down and it kept me on the edge of my seat. There are aspects that can still be enhanced, but it's nice all the same. It's absolutely worth a shot, to say the least.
THE NUB AND GIST: 4.5 STARS
*The "Mary Sue" is judged a poorly developed character, too perfect and lacking in realism to be interesting.