Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Review: The Selection

The Selection (The Selection, #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | TBD

Synopsis: 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.

"In my experience, true love is usually the most inconvenient kind."

I am still torn between liking this book or not. There are a few reasons not to like this, but all in all this is not that bad. I was actually able to finish it although I admit there were some things that bothered me along the way.


The cover. Isn't that lovely? In my opinion, the cover was perfect. It's royalty and elegance at its best. The girl is also pretty although what captured my attention the most was the dress. It gives the impression that the kind of world or time the characters live in is somewhat like in the 19th century. As weird as it sounds, it actually reminded me of how things looked like in the movie adaptation of Anna Karenina.

The plot. It's like The Bachelor and The Hunger Games, fairy tale-ish version. It's less modern than The Bachelor but obviously more elegant than The Hunger Games. The moment I read about this, it almost screamed fun. But despite the slightly expected fun, I also expected a bit of challenges among the characters, and some real ones contributed by someone else other than the protagonist's own feelings. It was even listed under dystopia, right? But let's talk about that later..

Maxon and America's interactions. Aren't they cute together? I honestly feel giddy whenever Maxon and America have their private moment with just one look in the eye or a tug in their ear. The interview was sweet, I even expected other Selected girls to speculate and plot against America since it seems obvious how close she was with the Prince and how comfortable they were together.

**I just want to make it clear that this is my own opinion and doesn't reflect others.**

The poorly developed fictional world. It's just that I don't feel situated well in the world Cass created in this story. I already mentioned how I expected this to have a setting like in the 19th century, although I'm pretty sure it's more futuristic. I just assumed the dresses and how people act; like those who are in the upper class moves with grace and elegance and those in the lower were frowned upon by the former, since it adopted a monarchy form of government. Unfortunately, it's not like that at all. There were some parts when it felt like it's set in a modern, ordinary and normal world; like those in some chick-lit, romance, or young adult books where it's set in the real world and not in a fictional one made by the author. It sometimes feel like I'm reading a monarchy version of The Bachelor and that's it.

Dystopian? I'm not really sure. There were some point where it would lean towards that genre but then the next few pages would rule this out. It would mention about the caste system, which I didn't understand at all when I first read about Twos, Threes, Fives. It would mention hunger, poverty and how hard it is for someone who belongs to Fives, Six, Seven and Eight to have something to eat. But what are they fighting for? I clearly remember how other dystopian novels would emphasize the oppression and too much control by the government.
Dystopia is a form of literature that explores social and political structures. It is a creation of a nightmare world - unlike its opposite, Utopia, which is an ideal world. Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions, and a state of constant warfare or violence. Many novels combine both Dystopia and Utopia, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of the two possible futures.
Short sentences. Though not all sentences in the book were short, I noticed some that seem to end abruptly instead of being elaborated. I understand the importance of brevity but I expected more elaboration especially in describing the scene or something that is happening.

Maxon said that he's not good with girls because he doesn't have time to mingle with girls but he's so goddamn smooth with the Selected. He knows how to please them, and certainly knows his way around one. But then, he'd be lost and confused on some crying and distressed girls.
- America said that they were poor but were not "living in fear of survival or anything." They even had chicken, pasta and apple slices for dinner. But then she mentioned how unsteady their income were and how they experienced starvation before.

Lack of action. There were rebel attacks and there were some that happened even before those that actually happened when the Selected were in the palace. So why was there no action taken? Why are they waiting for the rebels to come and vandalize the palace instead of seeking them out. They have an army, right? They thought about safety measures such as impenetrable windows but not about taking the first step to eliminate the threat.

Names. America—seriously? It worked for Beautiful Disaster, I really think that name fitted the character but this one failed to. It sounded too modern and not meant for the character who lived in a country ruled by monarchs and a part of the Selection for the Prince's wife. What's with the unusual name, anyway? I expected her to have a simple name considering their class.

Characterization. I'm afraid I haven't seen a development in them other than America's eagerness to stay and participate. There was enough time, but unfortunately most of this was consumed by America. Of course she is the narrator of the story but it could always be not all about her. She interacted with people, but most were focused on how she would feel about them or how they are acting towards her.
- America. She whines too much. She's definitely not the heroine I was picturing out when I read the synopsis. Yes, she's so much better than Celeste but she's also selfish. She only thinks of her freedom and her relationship with Aspen instead of how her family would survive and what would they eat. If it wasn't for her boyfriend's persuasion, she wouldn't even join the Selection. She was just convinced that this would make him happy so she filled out the form. It wasn't even about her mother's bribe (although it was an incentive) or her family's needs at first.
- Aspen. Is it bad that I wasn't swooned on how sweet he was with America the first time he was introduced in the story? I seriously think there's something beneath it all and that it's too good to be true. It's too fake for me. It didn't helped when he displayed his unwavering pride when his loving girl friend prepared a meal for her. Instead, he turned her down and broke up with her because he was poor and couldn't provide for her. Then later he declared his love for her despite knowing that this would endanger not just himself but also America. America, the girl he said he loved. Y U so selfish?
- Maxon. I wish there's something more with him. He's too plain and lacked suspense in his character. Despite the inconsistency mentioned above, he seems predictable. If this guy would be the one America would end up with in the end, he needs serious development. We wouldn't want a transparent hero, would we?

Descriptive writing. We need a vivid picture of what is happening or what the characters see or experience. We need to see it, form images in our mind and not just read it. We need to be shown not told.

So..yes, that's why I'm not really sure if I like this. There were parts that really I couldn't just overlook it but it's total value isn't horrible at all. I might or might not read the next books. It depends if I could loan it or acquire a galley. But I really hope there's more action.


  1. I agree. Maxon is predictable and Aspen the contrary. The problem with unpredictable people is that although they're lots of fun, one day they are there and the next gone. Tough choice.

    1. Aspen doesn't have the fun most unpredictable characters have., IMHO. Mostly we like them because they're not boring but he seems like he is two different characters.