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.
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.
"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!|
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.