on May 4, 2013
I'm rating this book purely on my enjoyment of it and not on some scale deciding whether it was great literature or not. It's fluff and I loved it.
So IF your favorite part of the Hunger Games was the lead-up to the actual Games (the interviews and dresses and stuff), and IF you can forgive superficial world-building (possibly with the promise of something more later in the trilogy), and IF you like stories about matchmaking reality shows (even if you don't like actually watching them), and IF you aren't tired of the trope where the prince falls in love with the girl who makes it clear that she's the only girl around who isn't in love with him and his title (usually by telling him off), THEN you will really like this book. These are all things I like (or forgive in the case of world-building).
I don't know why, but I love reality show stories, even though I'm not a fan of most reality tv beyond the occasional performance show (singers, dancers, etc.). From the sample I had on my Kindle, I totally got the Hunger Games meets The Bachelor vibe (not realizing that that was how the book was marketed, lol). But it's really dystopian-lite. The caste system could be easily replaced by the districts in HG, but that's really all the dystopia there is. That's fine because I don't need heavy dystopia in my dystopia. Instead, as far as the first book goes, the royal family seems perfectly reasonable. There are rebels, and we don't know anything about them except that they're searching the palace for something (I predict it has something to do with the symbol Gavril, the Ryan-Seacrest-of-this-world, was wearing that was mentioned very very briefly). I would assume that eventually they're going to kidnap America and we'll see their side and the actual dystopia, but that doesn't happen here. Instead we have a princely prince and not a corrupt government, and so it's almost more The Bachelor meets Cinderella with a hint of Hunger Games.
Some bad things: Some of the names are beyond ridiculous. America Singer, Tuesday Keeper, Tiny, Maxon, Aspen. These are the worst names I've ever seen in a YA. For a younger audience, they might have been fine. We also have some oddly similar names, such as Marlee, Mary, and May (plus Maxon).
I also felt some inconsistency with America's character. She's a performer, but she spends the 2nd half of the book complaining about being in the spotlight. When she lashes out at Maxon the first couple times, it didn't ring true to me based on her earlier actions and thoughts.
Some good things: The story really grabbed a hold of me and didn't let me go. I read the sample two nights ago, and then wished I had bought it all through work the next day. So I bought it as soon as I got home and read it overnight.
The caste system might have sketchy world-building behind it, but it did make for an interesting dynamic between some of the characters (particularly America and the people of lower castes). I actually liked most of the major characters, including both love interests.
I see a lot of potential for the rest of the trilogy to bring things in. I think there might have been some things that should have given more weight here, but the book worked well enough without them.
The book doesn't finish on a cliffhanger so much, but the competition isn't over yet, and next book will enter a new stage of it.
Recommended for people who love: dystopia-lite, the interview/dress-up portion of The Hunger Games, books about matchmaking reality shows, that prince-falls-for-the-girl-who-least-wants-him trope, books with ballgowns on the cover (easy to find these days), a bit of Cinderella, love triangles, crazy names, stuff going on behind the scenes that we'll find out in the next book, unresolved endings.
on April 5, 2014
The cover is pretty but it’s actually rather common in YA novels to have female protagonists wear prom dresses and strike a pose. Despite that, this cover drew me in anyway. Like I said, it’s really pretty. The entire time I was reading this book there were a million questions going through my head. My most prominent one was: Why would America give up being a republic democracy to become an absolute monarchy? Not even a constitutional monarchy either (which would still be unbelievable but more believable than an absolute monarchy). As a Brit, we never even had an absolute monarchy, so why would America (the country) have one? It makes no sense. I know this book presents itself as ‘The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor’ but honestly I just have a hard time believing this book. If I have a hard time believing a book, I have a hard time reading it. I admit this book was difficult to read. Here are ten reasons why:
One – The main character’s name. America Singer. I hear groans and see people roll their eyes every time I see or hear the name. Firstly, in this new country named Ilea (formerly USA) why would they allow a child born anywhere to be named after the former regime? In a real dystopian novel, they probably wouldn’t. The Hunger Games had ridiculous names too but it was just so far in the unspecified future that nobody really bats an eyelash. She was probably just named America because in one scene she is in the palace reflecting on...stuff and thinks to herself, ‘there was no freedom here.’ That’s it. No real symbolism. It just kind of felt like forced symbolism.
Two – Although it presents itself as a dystopian fiction novel, there is no plot about that to speak of. This entire novel revolves around romance. Somehow writers today seem to think that the idea of finding true love constitutes a plot and therefore the absence of a real plot will go unnoticed.
Three – The war the USA had with China. It’s clear the author has no understanding of economics or international relations. China wouldn’t go to war with America. The Chinese and Americans depend too much on one another to actually go to war. War is a costly endeavour and I think these two sides would like to avoid that path. If China wants their money back they wouldn’t go to war, it costs money.
Four – The caste system in this book didn’t make sense to me. Apparently, people have numbers that determine their rank and everybody is born into that rank. America and her family, the Singers, are fives, which means they are entertainers or musicians. Which probably makes them middle class. Given the status of entertainers in current times, I find it hard to believe this. Why is entertainer even a caste? Talent in music or acting or any performing art isn’t hereditary. Also, being an actor or musician is a craft that can be learned, so why is it even a caste? I’m poking holes again. When (seventeen-year-old) America gets ‘selected’ she then becomes a ‘three’. But her family are still fives. It doesn’t make sense to me either, but then again this caste system doesn’t make sense. It’s just so arbitrary. And one can actually buy their way up the caste system in this book. So the idea of a caste system at all is kind of rendered moot because money would be more important than title. Like in today’s society.
Five – If the USA did become a monarchy called Ilea, why would they have a competition to see who would marry the princes? If I learned anything from European history, it’s that European monarchs often chose who their children will marry and marriage will always benefit the family or the country. If this book were realistic, then the princes wouldn’t have a competition to decide who to marry, their parents would have chosen the brides based on the girls’ status and/or her family’s wealth. In this book, the Ilea princesses marry foreign princes but the Ilea princes get to choose their brides. Double standard much?
Six – America complains about how ugly she is but everybody actually thinks she’s beautiful. This is just so overused in YA novels today that calling it a cliché wouldn’t be enough. How about super-cliché? And on top of that, the author goes out of her way to show that America is not in fact ugly. She’s the best looking girl around. Because when she goes to the palace, she doesn’t need a makeover like all the other girls because she is ‘so naturally beautiful.’ All the other girls need dye jobs, and waxing, and hair extensions, and whatever but America doesn’t because she is ‘so naturally beautiful’. *sarcasm*
Seven – Aspen. He is America’s love interest in this book. She doesn’t want to enter her name in to be selected but when Aspen asks her to do it ‘just because,’ she does it. Seriously. She doesn’t do it for her family or for fun or for money (which any three would have made more sense), she did it because a guy told her to. What a role model. If it were me I would have thought he’s just doing it because he wants to get rid of me. Also, Aspen breaks it off with her. (Saying he isn’t good enough, but whatever.) I guess she doesn’t take the hints because she’s all mopey over him. For most of the book. He eventually shows up again...at the palace...as a guard. That’s...convenient. (Whatever, I’ll ignore that part.) Well, he tells her it was a big mistake to break up with her and he misses her. She falls back into his arms. Really swell role model here, huh? *sarcasm*
Eight – America is kind of a brat (substitute another ‘b’ word here). First, she doesn’t do anything to help her family (remember? she joined the selection because a guy asked her to not because she wanted her family to do better). Secondly, in her first meeting with the prince she physically harms him because he had the audacity to call her ‘my dear.’ *sarcasm* Okay, I would understand if he was saying it like he was claiming ownership of her and she hurt him but when he approached her he seemed genuinely concerned for her well-being and was just inquiring if she was well. He was just being polite and in my opinion, that adds to America’s brattiness. Eventually, and despite that incident, they develop a friendship and she later gets kind of bratty when he kisses other girls even though she told him she wasn’t interested. Brat. I know this is supposed to show that she’s actually developing feelings for him but at the same time she keeps wangsting about Aspen (the one who dumped her). She also lacks any of the survival instincts true dystopian YA heroines have (Katniss, Tris, etc.) and everything about her (her personality, her values, her beliefs, her aspirations) are defined by the MEN around her. I think the first time she ever makes a choice is at the end of the novel where she breaks up with Aspen.
Nine – In the story, one girl had a breakdown when the rebels attacked the palace. It turns out she was raped. And this backstory is never mentioned again. Like ever. Never. I think rape is one of the worst crimes. I can’t imagine what rape survivors go through. I admire their strength and I admire the men and women who catch rapists and put them behind bars. But what really gets me angry here is that rape is used as a backstory and no thought is ever given to it again. It’s just some plot device and not even used well. It’s really insulting. I wanted to throw the book when I was finished and realised that. It’s so shameless the way it’s used here.
Ten – Very little politics in this dystopian novel. The rebels were a constant threat throughout the novel but not a real threat because the palace is fortified against them for the most part. The first whiff I got of politics is when America and Prince Maxon are discussing the caste system and she basically tells him that poverty equal hunger. So after Maxon hears about this, he decides to raise taxes. A really dumb political move. Obviously not thought out (by the author) political move. Despite it being an absolute monarchy, a prince (and someday king) needs the support of the higher castes or the lower castes or religion. So he needs the backing of the nobles or the people or whatever-religion-is-dominant in this novel. Well, there is no religion and he pretty much just burned his bridges with the nobles and he doesn’t even know how the people feel. See? So many flaws in this novel. The politics in this dystopian novel is so poorly thought out. Or rather, not thought out at all.
Bonus – Telling, not showing. We are told this is a dystopian novel but nothing much in this novel seems to indicate that. America and her family are said to be poor but they have a servant (of a lower class, but still) and own a working television they eat popcorn while watching it and America even has her own bedroom (not even Katniss had her own bedroom in the first book). It felt like everything in this book was told, not shown.
This doesn’t sound like a dystopian novel at all. This sounds like some teenage fantasy. It’s so superficial and shallow that I weep for the girl who read this and take it to heart. I don’t expect every book to be deep but this was all fluff and no meaning. For me, those are the worst kinds of book to read: ones without any meaning. This is the kind of book I would tell my friends to avoid. There was nothing that went on in this book, so why did end on a cliffhanger? It’s just so boring and so bad. I didn’t expect to be wowed by this book, but I also didn’t expect to be so disappointed and regretful that I spent time reading this. Time I won’t get back. It sounds like I’m harping on all the things wrong with this book but there’s just not enough right with it (I don’t think there’s really anything right about it) for me to actually be okay that I spent time reading it. I bought this at a used bookstore for two dollars. Thank goodness it wasn’t more, but I still regret spending money on this. This book lacks any heart and any substance.
on May 20, 2013
In a world where everything is determined by social castes, America was born a five, one of the lowest castes. This year, a Selection will be held to find a bride for Prince Maxon. America's mother thinks that having her daughter participate will be the solution to all of their problems but America doesn't want to participate for one simple reason - she is secretly in love with Aspen. The only problem is that he belongs to an even lower caste and so her parents prohibit her from marrying him. She ends up applying for the selection, sure that she will not be one of the 35 chosen girls, so you can imagine her surprise when she is the one picked from her district. This is where the heat of the competition starts; complete with friendship, jealousy and of course a little sabotage.
The concept of the book was really great. I know many associated it with The Bachelor, but it reminded me more of the film Miss Congeniality - the girl who does not want to be part of the competition and dislikes the pretty dresses but ends up loving all of it and even becomes friends with some of the competitors. The dystopian element in it was also quite good - I found the history element in this book to be interesting. Also, the rebel attacks to the palace added more depth to an otherwise typical YA dystopian romance.
However, what really made me fall in love with this book were its characters. America's character was so down-to-earth and kind that you couldn't help liking her. She cares for the other competitors and even her maids. She even gives tips to her friend on winning over the Prince. I also found relatable the fact that, while the other girls went for the most glamorous dresses, she always opted for the simplistic style that she felt most comfortable in.
Maxon was so swoon-worthy and all he wanted throughout this competition was to fall in love. I thought that he would be arrogant, but from his first meeting with America, he stole my heart.
The only downside to this book, for me, was Aspen's character. I found him to be quite arrogant at times and really didn't understand why America had fallen in love with him. The main fault for this was probably due to the fact that the characters had a relationship before the start of the book, so I didn't get the opportunity to see their relationship develop. Later in the story, we do get to learn how their relationship started, which made me like him a bit more. However, I felt that the relationship between him and America was based mostly on the fact that she took care and provided for him.
Overall, I felt that this book was like candy floss; fun, colorful and leaves you with a smile. I simply could not put this book down and can't wait to get my hands on the sequel!
on December 31, 2012
I want to start this review by saying that I started this book not expecting it to be good. I usually look into the books that are in my "recommended for you" section, so when this one popped up, I looked it up to see if I wanted it. While it looked interesting to me, the first and most detailed reviews (which are the ones I usually trust) claimed that it was awful. So I put it on hold at my local library and waited through the hold list until I got it. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, so I won't say that the reviews I read were WRONG, exactly, just that I felt they were not an accurate portrayal of the book.
Before I give my opinion of the book, I want to respond to a few of the aspects of other reviews that made me hesitate to read it.
First, the names of the characters. I read many reviews on several different sites that all thought the names of the characters were "horrific". While I admit they're unconventional (Amberly, America, Maxon, Aspen, Gerad) I wanted to point out that most futuristic books include odd choices for character names. Does the name "Katniss" ring any bells? "Peeta"? "Haymitch"? I'm a big fan of the dystopian genre, and almost all the dystopian society books I've read include weird names. It's just how it is. While odd, these names have some base in the names we have today (Kimberly + Amber = Amberly), and at least are all pronounceable. I've read some books where I just thought of a character as "the guy whose name starts with S".
Second, the ending. While I'm not a fan of cliffhanger endings, I understand why the author chose to end it here. When the 35 girls are narrowed down to "The Elite", it starts a new segment, for lack of a better word, in The Selection. The Elite are expected to learn about the kingdom and have new responsibilities. It's a middle point, so to speak, for the competition, as well as our protagonist. There's a short novella coming out in March of 2013, and then the sequel will be out in April. I, personally, am super excited for it! However, I looked around on the author's website and found out that there will be a third book as well. Not sure if it'll still be part of the selection, or after, but as far as I can tell, that will be the last one. I wish it could all be just one huge book that wrapped everything up, but most books these days will be a series if they can, so I don't blame the author for wanting to draw it out. There's also a TV show that's being proposed based on this book/series, so another reason to make it a series might be that the more books there are, the more material there is for the show.
Third, the camera-aspect. Many reviewers called this book a cross between 'The Hunger Games' and 'The Bachelor', and while I loved 'The Hunger Games', I've never been a big fan of 'The Bachelor' because I think having cameras constantly on you turns you into someone else. I don't want to say it makes you act fake, but I didn't think I'd enjoy reading from someone's point of view constantly in front of cameras in this kind of setting. I'd like to set the record straight that the cameras have a very small part in the competition of the girls. Their before-and-after makeover pictures, interviews, and interaction with the public are show in the media, but there are almost never cameras inside the palace where the girls are living. I was very happy about that.
As I said before, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I felt that many of the one-star reviews I read were a bit harsh. I found this book to be interesting and fun to read. I checked it out from my library, started it when I got home, and stayed up until three in the morning to finish it. I couldn't put it down, and can't wait for the next installment. Despite the top reviews being two stars or worse, I also wanted to point out that the book has over 450 reviews, with a four star average. No book will please everyone, but I think it's safe to say more people like or love the book than those who disliked it.
I never trust reviews that have frequent misspellings or bad grammar, and I hesitated to read this book due to the eloquence of the bad reviews, but I'm so glad I read it anyway. I checked it out from the library to avoid buying it, but I ordered it just as soon as I finished it, because I know I'll want to read it again. This was a great book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.
on October 24, 2012
The story, honestly, isn't in the least original, nor is it action packed, and not at all is it witty and filled with clever plot twists you could never see coming your way. Actually, there's none of those things. Supposedly some rebel force-related action happens off-screen (off-page? Man, book jargon is so confusing), but never does America or anyone near her actually witness any blood spilling act. Someone gets slapped, though, if you're one of those who love yelling GIRL FIGHT and eating popcorn as hair-pulling, b*tch-calling action unravels itself before you - not that those things happen in the book, but one can mentally include it there to make it more interesting.
The similarities with The Hunger Games are completely blunt, which should be no surprise as this was blurbed as a mashup of it and The Bachelor - of which there is surprisingly next to nothing in the book. Camera crews are barely seen, the interviews they conduct are tedious and the 35 Selected girls appear on the nation's tv every friday, to... um, stand there? Anyway, basically, despite being the event that ignites - and that should be centered in - The Selection, the contest that bears the same name is as interesting as watching paint dry.
This book isn't about The Selection. This book isn't about an unfair dystopian society in which a lot of things are wrong. This book isn't about the fight for such dystopian society to end - although the similarities with THG give me reason to believe it will be over by the time the last book is released. This books is about America - a main character who became pleasant after the first extremely awkward sixty pages or so - and two guys.
The plot was so thin it was see-through, most of the characters were more of the same in YA fare and nothing about it was positively shocking. I guess it was just mindless, pleasant enough read. I didn't hate it. I didn't hate its characters. No one was sexist, disgusting, homophobic, particularly mean (but one character, but even said character wasn't more than a spoiled girl who didn't even call anyone names) or unpleasant in any way.
on May 4, 2012
Reaction before reading this book: I know I may be a sucker for falling for this cover, but look at it! I totally want to go to that party.
Reaction after reading this book: I no longer want to go to this party.
Full disclosure: I did not read this entire book. I took notes for the first 88 pages, read to page 168, and then skimmed the rest. I think reading more than half the book qualifies as giving it a fair shot. Those who do not agree are welcome to move on to other reviews without comment.
The Selection arrives with a gorgeous cover and interesting premise. What if a lottery allowed 35 teenage girls to compete for the hand of a handsome prince? I thought this might be a fun and fluffy read, so I pushed aside my initial misgivings about the names and pounced on the chance to read the ARC. Turns out, sometimes your gut is just trying to do its job, as I kept struggling with the book until I finally admitted that I didn't find a single aspect of this story that I enjoyed. Somehow I missed the early blurb that described this novel as a mash-up between the The Bachelor and The Hunger Games, which is unfortunate because the comparison to the television show is pretty spot-on. Mentioning it in the same breath as The Hunger Games is a travesty, however, since this book barely qualifies as a dystopian novel--and certainly the quality of the story, characters, themes, and writing don't come even close to comparing.
Here are some facts which may help you decide whether you want to read this book:
Character Names: Our main character's name is America Singer. Guess what she does. Her boyfriend's name is Aspen. Prince Charming's name is Prince Maxon Schreave, who must marry a "True Daughter of Iléa." Other names include Queen Amberly, King Clarkson, Tiny, Kriss, Marlee, Bariel, Gavril, Kamber, and Sosie.
Attempts to Make This Novel Dystopian: Sketchy caste system. Talk of provinces. Girls are required to wait until marriage to have sex. Infrastructure Committees. Occasional mentions of hunger and lack of makeup.
Writing: Very obvious protestations that are easily seen through. Juvenile dialogue. A lot of whispering to convey dramatic statements. A plethora of exclamation points.
Bachelor-like Elements: Contestants vying for a "perfect" guy. Appearance fees. Contracts. Gossiping. Sabotage. Tears. Eliminations. Television specials. Icky elements. But no limos and no rose ceremonies! Booo.
Most Annoying Element of All: The story ends on a cliffhanger, as if there was so much going on in this one book, it could not be contained in a single volume.
Why did Mom have to push me so much? Wasn't she happy? Didn't she love Dad? Why wasn't this good enough for her?
"Please don't call me gorgeous. First my mom, then May, now you. It's getting on my nerves." By the way Aspen was looking at me, I could tell I wasn't helping my "I'm not pretty" case. He smiled.
Aspen was dressed in white. He looked angelic.
That was it. I slapped him. "You idiot!" I whisper-yelled at him. "I hate him! I loved you! I wanted you; all I ever wanted was you!"
"If you don't want me to be in love with you, you're going to have to stop looking so lovely."
So. Whether you'll enjoy this book depends on whether you find any of the above details appealing. If, like me, they make you want to pull out your hair, it may be best to either try this one out at the library first or just admire the pretty cover design from a safe distance.
Putting aside the fact that this probably would have worked better as a straightforward fairy tale without the pseudo-dystopian details, as well as the annoying focus on boys boys boys being the be-all and end-all of this book, the whole thing wasn't really a very enjoyable reading experience to me, not even as mindless entertainment. Every scene, every character, and every plot development was predictable and worse yet, a cliché, and the dialogue and machinations felt painfully juvenile throughout the entire story. I almost wish this were a middle grade novel, except that there are a few too many make out scenes for that. Plus I don't think I would have enjoyed this even at the age of 8.
As always, these kinds of books are just a matter of taste. All in all, I really don't have violent feelings about The Selection the way I do with such books as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or Elizabeth Miles' Fury, but I'm afraid I can't say that I found very much about it that was redeeming, either.
FYI: After 24 hours of this review going live on GoodReads, some pretty horrible developments occurred. Just search for the book on that site and read the review if you're interested. I fully expect this review to be down-voted here, given all the plotting and sock puppet shenanigans associated with this book, but frankly the information in this review is something I would like to have known before I attempted to read it.
on June 8, 2012
Just think about that phrase for a moment. Hold it in your mind. Turn it over, consider the implications. It has a lot to do with this review.
I was really excited about this book, I really wanted to like it. I am not immune to the lure of a beautiful cover featuring a beautiful girl in a gorgeous dress. A dust-jacket featuring a svelte redhead in endless ruffles of turquoise tulle reflected back in different poses by a bank of water-spotted mirrors, wrapped around a Tiffany-blue hardback stamped with a silver tiara. Despite my disdain for bodice-ripping romances I can enjoy a made-for-TV romantic comedy or an episode of The Bachelor while I'm cooking dinner, so I was game to give this YA dystopian fantasy a shot.
This is a book that tries to bridge the gap between The Hunger Games and Twilight. Someone was bound to try soon enough, those two incredibly popular series combined would seem like a golden ticket to publication. On the one hand, we have a highly regulated society in which many are starving and it is very difficult to move across the government's dividing lines, hosting a competition to publicly elevate one of its number above the rest. On the other we have a novel completely centered around a love triangle, with a heroine who is a bit of a Mary Sue.
America Singer is a tri-lingual, naturally beautiful musician with a secret boyfriend of a lower caste. Being a Five is not so great, it is an artisan class with sporadic work that leaves her family perpetually short on food, but her boyfriend Aspen has it worse as a Six in the servant class. She has the big-time hots for this boy and they have two years worth of treehouse trysts backed up, creating an incredible pressure that they'd like to relieve post-marriage (pre-marital sex is grounds for imprisonment). Big no-no, America's momma is hoping she will use her pretty face to marry up at least two castes. When a Cinderella-esque invitation arrives exhorting America to enter a lottery for a chance to win a place in a competition to win the hand of the crown-prince of Illéa, becoming a One in the process, her mother is practically foaming at the mouth and even secret-boytoy Aspen doesn't want her to pass up the opportunity.
She is persuaded to enter, and of course she is selected.
Many blogs have already likened this novel to The Bachelor, and I would have to say that it actually reads like Bachelor fan-fiction with a prince subbed for the schmuck. America is incredibly judgmental of the other Selected, often based on a single visual impression or line of dialogue, yet these judgements are never false. The sexy brunette is seductive and conniving, the bubbly blonde is sweet as pie. Everything plays out as exactly as you might guess, in the most clichéd manner possible. The palace is repeatedly attacked by mysterious rebels with no definite purpose in scenes that fail to thrill. The book is light on both dialogue and description, propelled by endless stated actions and sentiments "I walked downstairs and then sat in a chair and then ate dinner. It was delicious. I felt full." There were several paragraphs in which every sentence began with "I". The scant dialogue all sounds the same, though the novel depicts characters from a range of social classes and geographic locations. I wouldn't even know if I split an infinitive, but there were many glaring errors in mechanics, as though someone printed their fan-fiction straight from the computer and had it bound. Unfortunate dialogue tags abound, everyone "sings" everything. At one point I wondered if this book were supposed to be a musical.
The heroine herself comes across as inconsistent and disingenuous. She is home-schooled and plays the victim of incomprehensible feminine politics, but makes unerring judgements of her fellow ladies and presumes to give Maxon advice on interacting with them. At one point she states that she wants nothing more than to be alone with a violin, on the next page she is alone in her room with a selection of instruments and says she can't "be bothered" with them. She claims to be madly in love with Aspen but only seems to think or feel anything about him when he is directly in her line of sight. She performs actions that are inconsistent with the reader's knowledge of her character, simply because they seem to be on the author's checklist of princessly characteristics.
The romance is pretty dull. With America and Aspen it is a lot of forbidden horny leg-rubbing; America and Maxon engage in slightly more interesting conversation about why he sucks (America is a real charmer).
This is not the worst of it, you guys, and I'm sorry for rambling on. I'm almost done.
The worst failure of this novel is a failure of the imagination. I could deal with a stupid plot and two-dimensional characters if I got some great poetic language, engaging world-building, or sumptuous descriptions of luxurious locales and fashion. The author seems to have an obsession with cap-sleeves, everything America wears has them! I'm not sure if it was a deliberate choice to make her seem demure or a lack of creativity. The sumptuous cuisine? Bacon, eggs, and pancakes; or vanilla ice cream with fruit. Literally dozens of female characters have names but no physical descriptions or personalities, even when they have speaking parts. COME. ON. The palace is made of stucco (but has marble floors). Stucco, you guys. It was described in a way that made me picture the mansion they always use on The Bachelor, but it is somehow big enough to house more than two hundred people, forty or so with their own rooms and enormous individual bathrooms. Magic.
I am disappoint. This could have had real potential if a tougher editor had entered the picture.
on June 11, 2013
America Singer doesn't want to enter the Selection since she's in love with Aspen, who she's been secretly dating for the past two years, and thinks the Prince looks stuffy and boring. However, it will help her family financially and they are so excited for her. Aspen also encourages her to try out so she does and, to her surprise, makes the cut. She automatically becomes a 3 so that puts a further divide between her and Aspen.
She leaves Aspen on a sour note and is heartbroken as she heads to the castle. She meets Prince Maxon and is surprised at how easy he is to talk to and makes a deal with him so he'll keep her around. Prince Maxon is intrigued with her and enjoys her company. She learns about life in the castle and what the rebel attacks mean. She enjoys getting to know the other girls and she especially loves the food!
She's pleasantly surprised as she gets to know Prince Maxon better and starts to have feelings for him but she's still also hung up on Aspen. Can she forget about Aspen? Does she want to? Will she stay or ask to leave?
I listened to the audio for this and loved it!! I used to watch The Bachelor and it has that feel to it, where you can tell the favorites right away and the villain is obvious but always seems to stick around. In this case, though, Prince Maxon is a gentleman and not looking to get in the hot tub or fantasy suite.
I like the three main characters. America is a young girl who is really confused by her feelings. She has Aspen, who she's loved for two years and Maxon, who is easy to talk to and she does start to have genuine feelings for. If she's chosen, she and her family would live comfortably the rest of their lives, and since life hasn't always been easy, that is also a factor for her. I didn't feel like I got to know Aspen enough to form a strong opinion of their relationship, but he seems like a genuinely good guy who is working hard to improve his lot in life. The fact that their relationship was secret had to be difficult when they were with their families or out in public together. Prince Maxon is shy and open and trying to figure out what he's doing. He doesn't have any experience with girls so it's overwhelming to him to choose from the cream of the crop. He opens up to America about his insecurities and is easy to love!
I also enjoyed how America treated her maids and the other girls in the Selection. She gets along well with people but stands up for herself and others when she needs to.
I currently have my favorite and I really don't know which direction America will go. Since I haven't read a book with a love triangle in a while, I'm actually enjoying that aspect of the book. I recommend this to anyone that enjoys a dystopian, bachelor themed book!
on February 8, 2013
I can't even begin to describe how disappointed I was that The Selection didn't turn out to be the five-star read I was hoping it would be. I've been looking forward to reading it since forever. I won it in a giveaway and out of all the books I could choose for a prize, I chose this one. You can almost say my disappointment have thus been doubled as had I known that the first 40% of this book would be a carbon copy of The Hunger Games (which I loved, so by the way), I might've picked something else. But anyway, it's really my own fault. I, as always, didn't read the blurb and was enchanted by the absolutely gorgeous cover.
Let's get to the "why". Why was I so disappointed in the first 40% of this book? Well, simply because the endless similarities to The Hunger Games were a little too much. Yes, of course the author changed it slightly and added something minuscule here and there, but the similarities to THG were so overwhelming, I didn't feel she added anything new to capture my imagination in a way THG hadn't already done. Another 10% into the book the story reminded me a lot of Megg Jensen's Anathema, but only because the palace scenes brought back memories of this terrific first book in the Cloud Prophet series.
Don't even get me started on the main character. Ugh. Can you say drama queen? America's woe-is-me treatment (due to her own preconceived ideas) of Maxon shortly after she met him for the first time was cringe-worthy. This of course is no reflection on the overall feel of the book, but only my personal dislike of characters who - when the world doesn't revolve around them - turns it into an overly dramatic production. Naturally, once she gets over "the hurt" and "betrayal" and blah blah blah, of being dumped by Aspen, she becomes more likeable - that is, until she meets up with him again near the end of the book. I just couldn't get a liking in Aspen either. Compared to Maxon, he seemed so...annoying. At times he was a bigger drama queen than America. It's just so darn annoying always having to first suffer through the drama and angst of yet another love-triangle. Heaven only knows why I'm a magnet for books with the he-loves-her-but-she-loves-someone-else theme in the plot. If it wasn't so predictable, I wouldn't be complaining about it. But nooooooo, most such books are all the friggin' same. I can name half a dozen books that are the exception.
How do I warrant a three-star rating for this book? Simple, really. There are a lot of good things to be said about a book which keeps me reading way past my bedtime into the early hours of the morning. With character names such as America, Aspen, Tuesday, Tiny, Bariel, and May, not to mention the very imaginative last names Singer and Farmer, this is testament to the author's creativity and original way of thinking. But it doesn't end there. Stellar characterization of Prince Maxon made him the only character I liked from start to end. Even though I didn't like America one bit in the first half of the book, I liked her a lot more once she and Maxon became steady friends. Their friendship was sincere and their easy dialogue made it feel real. I especially enjoyed the scenes in which they were together and they were being open with each other. Once the Hunger Games fanfic chapters came to an end and the author started introducing her own ideas into the storyline, it held my interest straight through the last half of the book to the cliff-hanger ending. The world building was done incredibly well and while inside the palace, I found the story to be a lot more enjoyable. The writing is flawless and engaging, and the story moves at a comfortable pace allowing the reader to indulge in every little detail from the beautiful dresses to the magnificent palace decor.
Although the hours spent reading The Selection was not a complete waste of my time, I'm not sure yet if I'll read the second book in this series, but I'll admit that I would love to see if America's character will be a little more mature and less dramatic in the next installment, and of course who she'll choose.
on October 2, 2012
Something happened on the land of scriptwriting in the mid 1990s. Writers realized they'd written everything there was to write. So what did they do? They invented reality television.
20 years later, book writers came to the same conclusion. But instead of getting real people to be the subject of true stories (team biography had already closed the convertible roof on that bandwagon) they decided to replicate reality tv shows already in existence but in print and fictional form.
What you have is one very clever book (HG) that drew on concepts from one incredibly brilliant show (Survivor), as opposed to one rather trite book that not only follows the format of one silly show (the Bachelor - which happens to be derivative of another show - Blind Date), but also mirrors the very clever book in so many disturbing ways:
Socioeconomic groups divided by profession and named by number
A baby sister who is the apple of the protagonist's eye
A songbird necklace
They're so obvious and unnecessary that it made me wonder if the author was being cheeky and trying to pay homage to her "inspiration" in HG.
But if so, then it fell flat on me.
The best part about the book is the names - America, Aspen,
Kota, Kenna, Maxon ... With names like that, who needs personality, right?
Wrong, Cass. Perhaps America would be interesting if she wasn't so darn sure of herself. I'm so sick of her inwardly rolling her eyes at the other girls and the ways of palace life. Couldn't she just be a tiny bit in awe of something?
And yes, while she has enough self awareness to refer to herself as "rude" and "cocky" she also has this fake modesty thing going on in her own mind. I really did try hard to like her. It wasn't easy.
Even the baddie didn't do it for me. Celeste has the subtlety of a hippopotamus performing ballet. Please, all that "I'll rip your dress off" nonsense. It might have made the evil stepsisters nasty in Cinderella, but in modern times there are
intelligent ways to be the villain.
2 stars. But only because I'm interested in what Ms Cass can do. I saw some glimmers of reasonable writing in there, if not plot construction. Perhaps she needs take a note from the very cliche she predictably references: "Be yourself"
And for goodness sake, leave poor Katniss Everdeen in Panem where she belongs.