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.
The Selection is unlike anything I’ve ever read before and yet very familiar at the same time. I’ve taken to describing it at “chick-lit dystopian/post-Apocalyptic.” On the surface, it’s about a bunch of girls competing for the love of a prince, but the more I think about it and the more I ponder what’s going on, it seems like it’s so much more.
The Selection is the story of America Singer, she’s a “five,” which means that food and the necessities of life don’t come easy (lower middle class), but she’s slightly better off than those who are a six (servants, those who do odd jobs for pay), a seven (those who do the jobs that sixes don’t do) or an eight (these are the homeless) – one is the royal family, twos are the celebrities and other elite, threes are they VERY upper middle class, and fours are the middle class. America and her family work in the arts to survive. Her father,older brother (who hit it big with one of his pieces and then stopped helping support the family) and younger sister are artists, her mom is a musician, America sings and plays several instruments, her younger brother is still trying to find his art. When we first meet America, she has just gotten her letter stating that she’s eligible for the Selection.
America lives in Illea, a futuristic kingdom composed of North America, that was created after the United States was invaded several times and the continent decided that the only way to survive was if they did it together. Illea is divided into 35 areas and for the Selection, each area sends one girl to live at the palace they have a chance to marry the prince. And for those who are in cast 4 and lower, this is a life changing event if chosen, and as America learns, it’s more than just the new found money and status that changes.
Once at the Selection, the story has a very bachelor like feel. The girls get make overs and lessons on etiquette and other things one might need to be a good princess. The girls also go on dates with Prince Maxon and work to gain his affection. America has a very auspicious first meeting with Prince Maxon and she quickly learns that he’s more than the persona he has presented on TV.
All of this courting is going on while the kingdom is still trying to find peace and Prince Maxon is learning how to run the kingdom. Illea isn’t as secure as it’s presented to be during the weekly televised updates, and I enjoyed reading about Prince Maxon trying to deal with his official duties while trying to give the Selection the attention it needs. And because of this, it’s hard for me to place this story fully in the dystopian or post-Apocalyptic camp. But either way, I think Kiersten White (author of Paranormalcy) summed it up well in her blurb “Reality TV meets dystopian fairy tale in Kiera Cass’s delightful debut. Charming, captivating, and filled with just the right amount of swoon!” It very much has the best of both the contemporary and dystopian/sci-fi worlds. I’m DYING for book two to and cannot wait to see how everything turns out. I’m hoping Kiera has some fun surprises up her sleeve for America, Prince Maxon and Aspen, because for me, one of the best parts is that I don’t know what’s going to happen. So much is up in the air and what you want to happen could happen, but it might not, Kiera has left you dangling just enough that you are captivated and trapped in the world of the Selection.