The Selection (Book One)
April 24, 2012
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**Fair warning right now, this is a review(ish) or a review-lite because I'm not sure I'm able to get things together enough on this book for what I'd call a review with nothing stuck on the end of the word ;-) **
When the Selection is announced, most girls see it as the escape it seems to promise: a life full of beautiful, sparkling gowns, enough food . . . but most importantly a way out of whatever life they've always seen themselves in. It's also - perhaps most importantly - a chance to marry the Prince. Thirty five girls will be chosen, but only one will be Selected.
America, though, sees it quite differently. The Selection isn't something that promises the possibility of love, it's something that promises to take her away from the love she's already found. Aspen and America have been in love for years but the caste system has forced them to keep their romance a secret.
Joining the selection - competing for Prince Maxon's heart and a crown she doesn't want, either - will mean not only leaving Aspen behind but living in a palace almost constantly under rebel attacks.
But what will America think once she meets and spends time with Maxon? Will plans change?
The Selection is probably the most talked about YA novel (aside from maybe Cassandra Clare's novels) outside of book sites, lately. In both positive and negative ways. Some of the talk has undoubtedly been started by things other than the content of the novel (some drama by the editor and/or author and the possible TV pilot) . . . but a lot has also been about the book.
I'll admit that seeing a lot of really positive early reviews got me really excited for this one . . . that and the super gorgeous cover (what can I say, I'm a sucker for a pretty cover).
. . . Then some of the 'I-hate-this-book' reviews started to show up (or they were always there and I just don't follow those people on Goodreads or didn't look hard enough).
Any book that can draw such mixed reviews had me intrigued (again, just my Goodreads friends/those I follow - Goodreads as a whole has pretty balanced reviews 5 stars - 37%, 4 stars - 33%, 3 stars - 18%, 2 stars - 6%, 1 star - 4%).
So, I gave it a shot.
Described as The Bachelor or Cinderella meets The Hunger Games by the editor or blogs, I actually didn't see much, if any of The Hunger Games in The Selection. The Bachelor? Sure. With the one guy dating thirty five girls, that's kind of a given. Cinderella? Yeah, with disadvantaged (singing, even) girl becoming like a princess overnight.
Actually, though, the book reminded me a lot more of Wither. The whole set up of Illea in the beginning of the novel reminded me of the world Rhine was living in. It only reminded me more of Wither more once the story got going.
Wither had the different girls all living in a house and married to the same man, The Selection had them dating him, in Wither Rhine promises to despise him, in The Selection America's going to hate Maxon and just play along for a bit, in both the girls wonder if their feelings are changing.
That's not to say The Selection copies Wither, at all, just that it's what it reminded me of . . . and why I can't quite figure out why The Selection didn't work for me. Something about America just rubbed me the wrong way throughout the book.
She didn't seem like a real character, one that you could connect with. In the beginning she seemed obstinate just for the point of being difficult . . . then she'd start to give some and being difficult would kick in again. She just didn't work for me.
If you want to give The Selection a shot - like I said, a lot of people did love it, I'm just not one of them - do know that this is very much an introduction-y Book I. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger, per se, but it's the most prequel-like first book in a series I've read lately.
(If you read all of that, or even most of it - I love you!)