Review : The Selection
What it’s about :
The whole country of Illéa is on their toes : the Prince is ready to get married. In order for him to find the perfect wife, the Selection is organized : 35 girls from different castes of society will compete for his love (and the crown), until one steals his heart.
It’s almost by accident that America Singer is selected : now she must leave behind her family and, most importantly, her secret boyfriend. Unlike the other girls, she doesn’t want a life in the palace. Then she meets Prince Maxon, and as she get to know him, America starts doubting what it is she really wants…
My Thoughts :
I knew going it that there was a big chance this wasn’t a book for me; The Selection has been mentioned as a “The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games” kind of book. Not being a fan of the first, and being too much of a fan of the second, I really expected the worst. I think it’s why, despite not enjoying the book, I went through it quite fast and actually finished it without feeling disappointed.
Where to begin? Let’s start with the book’s genre. Is it dystopia? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Honestly, hard to say. Though the Hunger Games comparison leads you to believe this will be full on dystopia with pretty dresses, it isn’t exactly the case. The book is so dystopia-light it is almost dystopia-free. There was a mention of Illéa being once upon a time the United-States, the attacks by rebels and then the castes systems (castes numbered 1 to 8, 1 being the royal family and 8 being the poorest of all). That is not sufficient to call a novel dystopian!
It’s possible the author plans on expending on her worldbuilding in the following books; if that’s the case, it really won’t hurt. Until more details were given, I found it extremely difficult to figure out which kind of society America lived in. Taking place 300 years in the future, there were very few mentions of technology or modern items : tv, portable phones, cinema, jeans… Other than that, I couldn’t figure if they lived in an advanced technological world, or if the wars had almost destroyed everything and stopped most progress.
And then there was America. She is pretty, you see; gorgeous in fact. Except that she doesn’t know it (she will tell you many times, that she doesn’t understand why people call her pretty all the time!) She’s also kind, talented at music, witty enough to get the Prince’s attention, simple, humble… gee, no wonder the Prince falls for her! She is so obviously better than every other girl around her! Her only clear fault was her lying – but it’s not her fault, you see, she is so obviously torn between those two guys!
As for the romance… huh. It was so predictable. So, so, so predictable at every turn. The way America and Maxon’s relationship develops, the conversations they have, the misunderstandings, all of this had little originality to it. The fact that I didn’t connect to America, to the Prince or to Aspen (America’s boyfriend back home) really didn’t help. To be honest, I had more interest for the girls America was competing against; I wanted to hear more about their personal stories, the gossiping, vicious plans to destroy each other, etc. There was little of that though, which made the novel uneventful for me.
I really wish I could add some great positive thought here, to balance this rather negative review. Sometimes a book isn’t for me; it is clearly the case with The Selection. But sometimes, too, I feel that it isn’t only about whether a book was for me or not. For instance, all this could have been saved by great writing. Beautiful prose, compelling descriptions, and I would have overlooked a lot of the least appealing aspects of the book. Sadly, the writing wasn’t anything spectacular, and the characters were so flat that I didn’t care what happened to them (except for America’s maids, three girls I really liked and who had more depth than most of the main characters).
I did have some fun while reading it. I kept reading because the writing, though not fantastic, made it easy to do so, and I kept expecting something big to happen. It didn’t but some scenes were fun enough. Also, I had a huge toothache, so the fact that this book was light and predictable felt good at the time. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be getting in line for book 2 when it comes out, but I am sure plenty of readers will appreciate this “Cinderella” story for its romance, the gorgeous dresses and a worldbuilding that is easy to get into.
Series Reading Order :
- The Selection