Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

1 February, 2015 Reviews 22 comments

Review: The Selection by Kiera CassThe Selection by Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Published by HarperTeen on March 26th 2013
Pages: 327
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Swap
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one-star

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 a palace and compete for the heart of 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.

I read this book for one reason: To find out why it’s a New York Times Best-selling series. After drinking several beers and banging my head against the wall after reading The Selection, I can kinda see why. And to be fair, it’s probably not the absolute worst book I’ve read. (I mean, there’s still that time I read Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini…) Still, it is by no means something that I’d recommend.

I know it might seem like I detested The Selection based on my status updates, but to be perfectly honest, I haven’t had this much fun reading a terrible book since Midnight Sun.

Reasons Why This Book is Made of LOLZ:

Character names: If there’s one thing that I just don’t understand about The Selection, it’s why more creativity couldn’t be used on character names. Really, I’m not asking for much here, but America SINGER? Character names based on their occupation? WHY? What’s funny is when other characters ask America what she does for a living because THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT COULD POSSIBLY BE.

House of Mary Sues: It might not surprise you that this book is about a super special snowflake, but did you know that virtually ALL the characters are just as special? The competition in The Selection isn’t just about which girl can win Maxon’s heart. Oh no. It’s about who’s the most special of them all! And since most of them are so damn selfless, they end up tripping over themselves, giving each other compliment after compliment. (“No, you’re the prettiest! You’d make such a great Queen. I’m nothing but a cardboard cutout excuse for a supporting character.” *giggle*) I shit you not. In fact, even Maxon and Aspen are competing, too. In my hands I hold a royal flush of Mary Sues.

The love triangle: I almost always dislike love triangles. It turns the female character into someone who can only focus on the two boys and becomes a much less interesting person. Her entire story revolves around the boys and which one is the “most perfect” for her. In effect, she is defined by this love triangle and her story becomes a shipping war.

I was hoping The Selection wouldn’t fall into that trap and was ecstatic that America was leaving Aspen behind when she left to live at the palace. But I knew things couldn’t be that simple since he eventually shows up at the right fucking moment to add unnecessary romantic tension. Because what a coincidence that a poor boy, who’s a glorified custodian, would find his way all the way to the palace and a guard right outside America’s door! WOW! It must be fate… or perhaps bad writing. Let’s go with the latter.

So now we have both boys back into America’s life. What’s a 16-year-old to do? Who are you going to choose, America?!

“No, I’m not choosing him or you. I’m choosing me.”

Bullshit. America spends majority of the book struggling with who to choose. And I would wager that the other books have the very same struggle. If there is one thing this book was good at, it was its predictability.

Also, did I mention how America has never had a female friend? The explanation for this is that she is always working and was homeschooled. But someone she made time to have a steady boyfriend (Aspen) for 2 years. She even mentions his sisters, but apparently, they aren’t friends. Even more, I found it super strange that she mentions that Maxon would have been someone she befriended at home had he been a neighbor. So I guess America only had time to make male friends back at home. It’s after she is forced to be around other females that she makes female friends.

The thing about her female friends is that the only thing they ever talk about is Maxon. Though he is a supporting character to America, he holds the center of this novel, making it complete one-dimensional, lacking any character depth. It’s a real shame because the premise of The Selection isn’t entirely a horrible one. But instead, Cass sets up a plot that is so staged that I couldn’t possibly take it seriously. Supporting characters are weaker to make America seem stronger. Supporting character make ridiculous suggestions so America can seem smarter. Rebels attack the palace for… reasons not expanded on because it has nothing to do with the romance. But, hey, those scenes make America look like a leader, so why not?

(What really kills me is how America tells Maxon that she “just needs time” to get over her ex-boyfriend, but he has no idea it’s Aspen, the very guard he stationed right outside her bedroom at night. And she doesn’t seem to have any inclination to tell Maxon either. Also, Maxon doesn’t own a set of balls.)

Like I said earlier, I can sort of see the appeal of this book and I’ve been told it’s really popular among younger readers. Two hot boys, pretty dresses, a light and fluffy read. There is nothing wrong with these things. I occasionally like them in my books as well, depending on what kind of mood I’m in. But I would have liked the novel to be about more than just a girl choosing between each guy. We know nothing about her beaus outside of how “cute” they are to America. What are their traits, strengths, morals? How do they individually enhance America’s life? What do these male characters represent on a larger scale? How do they even differ?

The Selection doesn’t even begin to touch on any of those questions because the story doesn’t actually leave you with any to ponder. What it does leave you with is a promise of a love triangle from hell and a sinking sense that the remainder of the series could only be one thing: a waste of time. My paperback came with a sneak peek of book 2 and I was very underwhelmed even more than I was with The Selection. She starts off book 2 with the difficult choice of Maxon or Aspen. I think I will spare myself.

So the question is: Is this book worth a read? In my opinion, no. Alternately, there’s The Jewel that has a very similar feel, but is an overall stronger novel in every possible way. Read that instead.

Steph… out!

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker and fangirl, YA Books Central editor and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.
Steph Sinclair
What To Do Now That You're Goodreads' 1% https://t.co/L1SDSO7Brt #CuddlebuggeryArchive - 10 mins ago

22 Responses to “Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass”

  1. Shannon N.

    YES! This is exactly how I felt about reading this book. It hurt me deep inside to read it, but yet I was entertained the entire time. I was very conflicted about that. LOL.

  2. Fangs for the Fantasy

    This book sounds shallower than a hedgehog on a major motorway… potential? Yes, possibly – but not even slightly delved into. And I frankly hate dystopian or major political settings that focus on romance – i always want to scream about priorities “who cares who you find cute!? There’s a damn rebellion going on?!”
    Fangs for the Fantasy recently posted…Helix, Season 2, Episode 3: ScionMy Profile

  3. Tara
    Twitter:

    Oh my! I have a love/hate relationship with The Selection for many of the reasons you mentioned. I’ve actually made it all the way to The One and can’t force myself to actually read the book (when I bought it). It’s kind of like when I watch The Bachelor and yell at the TV and roll my eyes…and continue to watch every week. But what I really wanted to comment on was The Jewel. I’ve had the ARC kicking around my house for a bit and I’ve only heard negative things, but you said it is better than the Selection? Maybe I’ll grab an adult beverage and give it a go.
    Tara recently posted…Sundays in Bed With….Grasshopper JungleMy Profile

    • Steph Sinclair
      Twitter:

      Ohh, do spoil it for me: Who does she end up with? Maxon or Aspen?

      I personally liked The Jewel a little more. I still had a few issues with it, but I feel the author did a good job with creating anticipation. Be warned, it does have a horrible cliffhanger.

  4. Kate Copeseeley

    Great review, my only comment is that last names DID actually come from a person’s occupation, if you were middle class. (at least in the England/Scotland/Ireland areas) It came from your lands or your estates or your county name, if you were nobility. Many of the very poor didn’t even have last names. Just first names.
    Not sure if Keira Cass was trying to set up something similar in her imaginary world. In MY imaginary world, none of the characters HAVE last names like that. I dunno. I think it’s all about what your intention as the writer is? *shrug*
    I freaking love this review and I loved reading your updates. 🙂

    • Steph Sinclair
      Twitter:

      True. But was so weird in this case because her other family members have the same last name, but not all of them sing. LOL. And one girl’s name was “Tiny” and guess what she was? Yup, tiny. LOL. A better job could have been done here. Still, if I recall, not all the lower cast families seemed to have a last name that reflected their job. It was very inconsistent.

  5. Regina

    Gah! This series is like birthday cake for me! Every time I walk by these books at the bookstore, I want to buy them because they look so fluffy and pretty. (That’s how I typically feel about cake frosting). Now that I know this book will be bad for me, I’ll pass. Thanks for the entertaining review.
    Regina recently posted…Euphoria by Lily KingMy Profile

  6. Lyn Kaye
    Twitter:

    Dude, Steph, this is going to be a GREAT book to read! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it! But if I can get serious for a moment…I find it sad that this is what is winning awards and selling like hotcakes. Look, we all love our trash reading, but to keep awarding this hack of a story multiple awards makes me worry over the future.
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…Book Review: The MartianMy Profile

  7. Brittany

    Oh, my gosh! Finally someone realizes this book for the sadly written trope that it is. So many people praise it that I have a hard time even saying that I didn’t like it, for fear I will get pelted with rotten fruits and vegetables. You hit on SO many points that I wanted to write about but what a little too intimated to. XD

    Lovely blog! I’ve followed via email. =)

    Brittany @ http://www.spacebetweenthespines.com/
    Brittany recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday – Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarryMy Profile

  8. Shannelle

    The only reason I dropped by was in the hopes was that it would be a rant stating everything I hated about it, and I was not disappointed. You rule, Steph.

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