Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass
This book made me wish I was a princess. Well, no. Not really.
Kiera Cass, an American novelist from South Carolina, started the Selection series in 2012, and since then it’s become a hit among the young adult female demographic.
There’s no doubt as to why: Cass’ story takes a young girl whose family makes very little money and throws into a whirlwind of dances and jewels and the love of a prince. But is it all it seems?
The Selection, the first in the series of originally three novels, but possibly five now, follows America Singer, a musician in a monarchist dystopian United States-esque land governed by a caste system, as she falls out of love with one young man and possibly in love with another.
However, she finds herself more as friends with the young prince, and truly wanting to help him find the love of his life in this girlish romance that shadows the TV show “The Bachelor,” as well as the novels of Suzanne Collins (and Victoria Aveyard, even though her novel Red Queen was written later).
Honestly, once I started reading The Selection, I felt this entire series was going to be a simple, mind-numbing story that vaguely resembles The Hunger Games, but with less interesting background, and I was right.
The competition to be a queen is not a very interesting one. The politics, however, are super interesting, but Cass rarely discusses them. The rebel attacks are also super interesting because they correlate with politics, but we barely see much of that either. And, I really wanted to know more about the books. Why are they banned? Why are they hidden? Seriously, it’s almost as if the whole focus of the novel is the royalty standpoint, and she brushes past all the intrigue and neatness. Also, the world-building isn’t amazing.
I felt the whole idea of a new country based on the U.S. could have worked if it didn’t resemble the current U.S. so closely, when it obviously has been through two world wars that currently never happened.
Also, I hated the whole princess thing. It made me see the novel as super shallow, even though the main character has a head on her shoulders and can use it. I realize that’s what the whole story is about, but I felt Cass could have done a hell of a lot more with the idea than just tossing a bunch of girls in a castle together to fight for the affections of a prince.
Oh. From a writer’s point of view, I also felt the whole novel was written in one style. When you have multiple characters with differing personalities, they are the most interesting, they show the variety of people in the world. But, the entire book felt like all the characters were the same age, even when they obviously weren’t, because they all spoke the same way. It was a little off-putting, thinking Queen Amberly was the same age as the girls in the Selection when her son was the one who would be marrying one of them.
However, there are positives to the novel. It was fun. I enjoyed reading something so simple without thinking so much about what was going on. I liked America’s character because she was a strong young female role model who makes decisions based on what she wants out of life, not based on what the men in her life want her to do. And, it was entertaining to read about a young girl falling in love and having friends and enemies, just like any teenage girl would nowadays.
I don’t know. I suppose it has its pros and cons, just like any other story. And, it was mildly entertaining. But, this was probably not something I would ever go back and read without a very good reason, like knowing a fifth novel would be released.
Kiera Cass is the author of the Selection series, currently at four novels, and a slew of other young adult books. Her work can be found online and in stores.