When America Singer gets the chance to compete in the Selection, a competition wherein thirty-five girls have the chance to compete for the Prince's heart, she only agrees to apply to satisfy her family and her secret love, Aspen. America is surprised when she is selected to compete. Never wanting to compete in the first place, America is whisked of to the castle with thirty-four other girls. As she competes, she realizes that Prince Maxon is nothing like she thought he would be like. Could this new life be better than her old one?
Rate: 4 stars
This book had been recommended to me by at least three people, and I have finally managed to pick it up and read it. It was quite a quick read (I finished it in under twenty-four hours), and one of the more girly books that I have read, but it was quite good. Filled with glittering gowns, televised events, decadent food, and girls both mean (looking at you Celeste) and nice, this book is not to miss.
I initially thought that the whole idea of the Selection was totally shallow, with thirty-five girls being shipped of to a castle and the Prince just gets to choose the one he likes best and it doesn't matter what the girl thinks (although they all wanted to compete except for America). I think I would have acted similarly to America if I got the chance to compete in the Selection, I just wouldn't want to. But maybe if my family was poor, in either caste four, five, six seven or eight, I might enter in hopes of winning money for my family, but not the Prince's heart. But when America talked to Maxon the first time outside, we saw his view on the Selection. We learn that Maxon rarely gets the chance to meet any women so this is his one opportunity to find love. Plus, Maxon didn't really seem like a shallow person. I think that if he was, I would still find the Selection totally shallow, whereas now, I find it less shallow.
While on the topic of people's character, let's talk about America herself. Although I did find some of her reactions relatable, I wasn't super attached to her. I don't really know what it was, but I just didn't care about her as much as some other main characters. But that doesn't mean I disliked her. I liked how she cared about the people in the lower castes, like her servants. I thought that it was great that she brought them with her when the castle was under attack and wouldn't let them leave. Plus, I liked that America told Maxon about what it was like to live as a lower caste. And I was really happy when Maxon actually did something about this, he made food available for castes five through eight. I was really glad he didn't turn out to be a snob. But then we had Celeste, whom I hated. She was just so nasty, and two-faced. She ripped a sleeve off one of America's dresses and spilled punch all over another girls dress on purpose, on her birthday! Plus she makes the most rude comments. But thankfully there were some nice girls, Marlee especially. She was a good friend to America, which can be rare in dystopian novels, a lot of times the female lead doesn't have a really good friend, and I was glad to see this here. Then there was Aspen. I was beginning to think we wouldn't see him again after America left for the castle, but I was proven wrong when he showed up as a guard at the castle. How convenient is that. Of all the places that Aspen could have ended up, it had to be the castle. It'll be interesting to see how America will deal with her feelings for both Maxon and Aspen.
There were many interesting smaller details in this book. One of them would be the caste system. I thought that reflected the society that we lived in today. We had the rich in castes one, two and three and the poor in castes four through eight. Castes one through three were like people living in first world countries and castes four through eight were like those who live in third world countries. Also, everyone wanted to get to a higher caste, where in today's society, everybody wants a higher social status. I liked how America explained the castes, "If you weren't a Two or a Three, then it was just varying shades of bad."
Another interesting detail in this book would be the history. I liked how we got a mini lesson on the history of Illéa, I always like to have some sort of world building or backstory. But the American State of China, really? I also found it interesting how there were barely any history books, and when America found one she was told to keep quiet about it. What's with that? I wonder why that is. Hopefully we'll get more on it in the next book.
I also found the attacks on the castle to be interesting. Maxon thought that the rebels could be looking for something, but what could they be looking for? How will this play into the next book?
Overall, I did quite enjoy this book. I think there is lots of potential for the next book, and I can't wait to read it.