This is a book series that I stumbled upon in the Kobo store, it interested me right away and I thought it was a fantasy story mostly, but when I actually started reading it, I realized it was fantasy, but also a combination of dystopia too. It’s like the Hunger Games, but without competitors killing each other for the prize.
I almost bought ebooks of this series, but after making some space on my shelf, I decided to get a physical box set instead. Maybe I’ll still get ebook backups just in case! That being said, I couldn’t put this book down. I don’t give a damn if it was for teen audiences, I didn’t read the entire Hunger Games trilogy until I graduated from college at 25 so there.
The Selection takes place in a future where a third world war has destroyed several countries, including the US, and new nations have been formed. This one centers around the kingdom of Illéa which consists of a monarchy to govern the country. I’m no good with knowledge of this stuff, but the book does provide some basic explanation. In this kingdom, people are divided into caste numbers. Each caste has something they specialize in, like for instance, the book’s protagonist America Singer and her family are Fives which means they do art like music or painting. However, the higher your number also means you don’t have as much money. Lower caste numbers like Twos tend to be richer families while Fives and Sixes might live in poverty, especially the latter.
Whenever the king’s heir comes of age, the Selection occurs where girls between a certain age range sign up and thirty-five of them will be chosen to compete in the palace to be a suitable princess for him to marry, regardless of their status, financial situation, and caste. However, I found that once I got to the actual competition, there really isn’t any games to it, unless you want to describe it as a courting game. America and the other girls just live in the palace, as if they were all princesses, sometimes they go on dates with Prince Maxon which helps him get to know them and he narrows down his options and some of it is also televised such as the weekly report.
I remember distinctively reading a chapter where someone debriefed the rules of the Selection with America and I thought they were too strict but once she met Prince Maxon, she began to realize that he was actually a gentleman and he seemed shocked when she told him some of the things she was expected to obey! I guess they like to over-exaggerate the demands the Selection has.
Although the author describes Maxon with short-cropped blonde hair, I imagined him with hair a little longer similar to Prince Henry from Ever After instead, and then I pictured America looking similar to the actor Nicole Tompkins but with redder hair. You see, the power of books lets me use my imagination freely to visualize the characters however I like, what the author writes is just an idea for me to use for my own image!
In the beginning, I saw that America was secretly seeing a man named Aspen who was a caste below her and urges her to sign up. My gut was telling me it wouldn’t last as I read. Something was going to wreck it or they would be discovered before that since relationships between two different castes are apparently, forbidden. This eventually makes her fully commit to the competition where she befriends some of the other girls. Marlee and Kriss I liked, but Celeste I knew was going to be a mean bitch the moment I read the chapter where she is introduced.
I also couldn’t put the book down whenever America became confused about her feelings and told Maxon that she only wanted to stay to avoid Aspen when he seemingly broke her heart. She and Maxon start off as friends and I like the way their relationship grows and slowly begins to evolve into something deeper, although I think America is still unsure where her heart lies. Over time, it sounds to me like life at the palace would be better for her rather than what she originally envisioned.
Then, we have to throw in a love triangle but I think it’s clear that America isn’t going to ditch Maxon now, he’s made her feel like she matters whereas Aspen basically told her earlier that he didn’t feel comfortable with her trying to treat him more than just a few pennies. All in all, I like America, she’s fellow ginger like me, she sings, and after finishing this book, I am a firm believer that Maxon is better for her because at least he’s willing to commit and he respects her.
I can’t wait to start the second book, hell I might as well start it now!