Alrighty, I have a confession to make. As I was distributing my free books yesterday for World Book Night, I ran across The Selection (shelved a day early!) and couldn't resist. The premise had long ago appealed to my guilty-pleasure-reads side, and the dress on the cover is super similar to the one that inspired my wedding dress, so how could I resist?
The story premise is quite simple. In a brutally reconfigured America (now called Illéa), where caste systems control peoples lives completely, one event can elevate girls out of their lives. The Selection- a random draw of 35 girls who will via for the love of the cloistered Prince, and one of them will become his princess.
A little bit Bachelor-esque, a little bit dystopic (although a dystopic world, it's not delved into that deeply), what I loved about The Selection is how much it's about America herself (yes, that's the main characters name). There are two boys, a love interest struggle and it will inevitably be called a "love triangle", the beloved/maligned YA trope, but I would argue there is no triangle. There is just America and her quest to figure out what she wants, what would make her happy, and this is what I loved about this book. My favourite line is in fact one I've been wanting to see in YA forever- "No, I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me." This being said, I can see the 37 ways this is going to blow up in book two and am thoroughly looking forward to it!
Speaking of book 2, hints abound that the dystopic world Cass has started creating will be fleshed out and revealed more, and I'm really looking forward to this. The small bit of world building, especially the caste system was really intriguing and I would love to dig into the meat of it more. What there is really elevates The Selection from a frilly girl love story, to something with a bit more depth, and I like the idea of America struggling with weightier issues than her family and her possible romances.
The secondary characters, outside of Maxon and Aspen, aren't very developed. The ground work has been laid but book 1 is firmly about America. My suspicions/hopes are that one or more characters are going to morph into trouble of the traitor variety by book two and we'll see a lot more development of the secondary characters making the story more of an ensemble cast.
Obviously I ate this book up in record time and thoroughly enjoyed it (I think I spent maybe 5 hours reading it?), it was fun and engrossing and it's a strong first book for a series (I'm guessing trilogy?). But most of all it lays great groundwork for a promising ongoing story. It released officially today and I'm already jonesing for book 2!
The Selection, by Kiera Cass
Published by HarperTeen April 24th, 2012
Buy The Selection on Amazon