Saturday, June 2, 2012

On Castes: A Review of The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection
I was eager to read The Selection for a number of reasons. The first was the cover, which really rocked my socks, or would if I wore socks. The second was the premise, which I thought was a hilariously terribly premise, but I thought it might be really amusing (and I will address why momentarily). And the third was the fact that I saw it getting wildly mixed reviews. Love it, hate it, set it on fire, and everything in between. Of course I wanted to butt in with my own thoughts.

The Premise: In a dystopian future, what was once the United States is now part of a large kingdom, with a fairly strict caste system. You are numbered One through Eight, One being royalty and Eight being homeless. The Selection is a chance for any girl in the country to marry the young prince, Maxon, thus instantly being elevated and gaining wealth for her family. Thirty five candidates are chosen. America Singer (yes, her name is stupid), doesn't want to be a chosen. She's a Five who just wants to marry her Six boyfriend and live out her life poor but rich in love. But America is chosen, and with her life changing so drastically, she decides to make the best of it--by befriending Prince Maxon and her fellow Selected.

Positive Comments:

America may have a stupid name, but she's a good character--for the most part. I felt like I could relate to her, even when I disagreed with her world view and her decisions. She's naive and optimistic in her view of love. She wants the best for her family, but she isn't blindly selfless. She genuinely seems to like herself, and maintains her sense of individuality by not allowing The Selection to totally change the way she looks.

Maxon was interesting to me in that he was obviously so sheltered, but yet had a lot of weight on his shoulders. I liked his interactions with America, especially early in the book, when it's clear that he doesn't know anything about girls, friendship, life outside the palace, or how to fall in love. They form a friendship--and Friends First is my very favorite romance trope.

The dystopian setting was, predictably, what made this story work for me. Unlike many dystopian books, the hypothetical future presented here is not so outlandishly unrealistic as to keep me totally removed from the story (*cough cough, Divergent*). Yet not so realistic that it's nightmare inducing. I liked learning about the caste system and the social and economic issues inherent in that sort of system.

Critical Comments:

"It's Hunger Games meets The Bachelor"! I can't remember where I read that, but boy is it willfully misleading. Yes, this is a dystopian book with a competition plot, but the similarities end there. If this were a book were 35 girls had to fight to the death, and the winner got the be princess--yeah, that would be spectacular. But it's a lot tamer than that. This is not, by any means, an action filled book. It's actually very slow in parts, and readers who like adventure and suspense are bound to be disappointed. 

Look, Tippy has a crown!
The competition itself holds the book back in many ways, which is where I get to my above comment: The premise is stupid. I hate The Bachelor. If you love it, more power to you. But I hate it. Love doesn't work like that. And having multiple people competing for the love of one person will always, always, keep me from getting fully invested in the relationship. This is the same reason that love triangles don't work for me, nine times out of ten. Well, this is a love triacontakaihexagon. With a love triangle on the side. Not good.

I was surprisingly okay with the plot, however, while America remained uninvested in the competition.The second that she decided she might like to win, my enjoyment of the book started to wane dramatically. I stopped trusting her feelings for Maxon and her previous boyfriend, and I sincerely started to doubt her intelligence. It's a shame, because the first 3/4 of the book were 5 star quality.


If you like futuristic dystopian novels, and you don't mind them on the slow side, this is a good pick. Bonus points if The Bachelor ranks as one of your most beloved shows. If, however, you are looking for action, adventure, and epicness in your dystopian, look elsewhere. 3.5 stars.


  1. Can I just say, I love your Tippy the Love Triangle?! Best graphic I've seen all day.

    I also hate The Bachelor, so this book was nowhere near my radar. From the reviews I've read, both positive and negative, I know it just won't be my thing. I'm skipping it.

    1. Thank, Ems. It sounds like this is not the book for you at all.

  2. This book never appealed to me and after reading your excellent review I am convinced that was a good call. Love triangles and The Bachelor will never be my cup of tea, so like Ems I will be skipping this one.

    1. Ugh, yeah, the love triangle in here is a glaring issue. Definitely skip it if you can't stand love triangles.

  3. Great review. I actually read this despite seeing reviews from one spectrum to another. I liked America, but I agree the Bachelor is a stupid show and if they'd stayed friends the book would be a lot more interesting. However, I'm 100% for Maxon because I think Aspen is a stupid and selfish jerk. Definitely will not read the sequel to this though.

    Ning @ Reading by Kindle Fire

    1. Hmm, I think I will read the sequel. I may not like it as much, but I am curious about what happens next.

  4. I really enjoyed this book, but I do agree it was slow at times. The big factor in me reading it was I loved the cover! Great review!

    1. Yeah, whoever designed the cover did a brilliant job. When I saw it, I knew I had to read it.


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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