Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Review: The Selection

by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Age Recommendation: Young Adult

Summary (from Goodreads):
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Before The Selection came out, it seemed like the entire blogosphere was excited over this new book. Not only did it have an absolutely gorgeous cover, the summary seemed to pique everyone's interest. It popped up wherever I went. After I bought the book, however, I looked at its Goodreads page and found overwhelmingly negative reviews. People complained that the characters were shallow, the world-building was nearly non-existent, the writing was mediocre... but most of these reviewers seemed to be expecting a serious dystopian. Several times I've heard the Selection described as "The Hunger Games, but with princesses." First of all, that statement is totally inaccurate, but more importantly, this should clue any reader in that they're probably not going to get a serious dystopian.

This book was more accurately semi-dystopian fluff. Granted, it was highly enjoyable fluff, but not a serious anything. If I'd gone in expecting something like Legend or Shatter Me, I would have joined the ranks of the other Goodreaders who complained about the lack of substance. But going in, as I did, with the expectation that it would be nothing too amazing, all fun and romance and pretty dresses, I enjoyed it quite a lot.

For a book that didn't have all that much plot to begin with, Kiera Cass did a good job keeping the pace up. The plot didn't drag in the least, and overall The Selection was a pretty quick read. I also really liked how she incorporated history and background information for the reader in the form of lessons for the girls competing. I liked learning about what was going on beyond the smaller story of America and Maxon.

The names were... unusual, to say the least. They might bother some readers, especially the name America, which stood out the most to me. I did my best to ignore the strangeness of the names and just go with it. Some of the characters had familiar names used in our time, and some were very odd, possibly to reinforce the idea that the story takes place in the future, once our society has crumbled. The main characters tended to have more unusual names (America, Maxon, Aspen) and the secondary characters had the more "normal" names (May, Marlee, Celeste, Jenna, Lucy, Anne, Mary). And then the tertiary characters' names were very strange (Tiny, Bariel, Kota). Basically, it wasn't very consistent, but it wasn't much of an issue for me personally.

Overall Thoughts
Sure, there's a lot to complain about if I wanted to complain about The Selection, but taking it for what it is, it was a great break from all the more serious fare out there.


Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I've seen a few people who didn't mind this book. It seems a little too fluff for me, but I'm glad to hear that it isn't the dystopian that everyone describes it to be. Thanks for the great review!

Debz said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the Selection. I've heard lots of mixed things, but I've been expecting a lighter, fluffier story, so I think it's one I'll enjoy. Wonderful review!

Pica said...

Andrea - Thank you! I'm glad you got a better idea of the tone of The Selection from my review.

Debz - Thanks! I hope you enjoy it! I'm looking forward to your review, should you happen to write one.


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