The Selection is a highly anticipated upcoming release by author Kiera Cass. It’s being pitched as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. These descriptions are apt as it heavily borrows the formula of both, particularly the beginning for THG and the latter two thirds for TB. That said I loved the tone of this novel. I enjoyed the hell out of reading it.
America Singer is a Five. She hails from a family of Artists and Musicians in the Caste system comprised of other like minded creative folk. The Monarchical government of Illea controls many aspects of the eight different Castes’ lives, including a strictly enforced curfew. America has been breaking the law for two years to see her boyfriend, Aspen, a Six. The Sixes are a lower Caste made up of the servant class. The differences between the two should keep them at arm’s length, however the two desperately love one another and plan on wedding when they have saved up enough money to do so.
The Prince Maxon has come of age and tradition states that he must choose a bride from the Daughters of Illea by means of a televised competition, The Selection. Castes aside women of age can submit themselves in hopes to be chosen and their families are generously compensated for the privilege. America has received the application letter and is under intense pressure from her mother to apply. Funds are limited and America’s acceptance could go a long way to stretch their budget. However, America could potentially lose the entire future she wanted if she does just that and, ultimately, she has moral issues about being sold into a loveless marriage.
If you are reading this expecting another series of The Hunger Games I think you will be disappointed. The expected action from this comparison is muted and confined to following a group of women as they compete for the Prince’s attentions. In truth, it reminds me more of Lauren DeStefano’s Wither than Suzanne Collins. However, I can see why the comparison is being made – If you pitch a book as THG you have an instant bestseller… it’s the Twilight syndrome all over again. The tone of this novel sets it apart though. There’s a softness underscoring the tragic social statuses of the girls… it’s like reading sociology textbooks through a swath of chiffon. The differences that set each of the Castes apart, even down to the maids in the kingdom, is palpable. For the observant reader the book feels like a satire, a campy premise with a bite of societal commentary to it. The names of the characters help to imply this idea of satire – Frankly, the character names were the only real problem I had with the book. Some of them were a bit silly, but not enough to deter me from the read. I liked the overall conflict to it, the soft tension, and the way in which the narrative unfolded. It’s more of a modern Fairy Tale than a Dystopian novel. I found it to be perfect for the mood I was in.
On a side note – the implication of being a second class citizen for being creative really held weight with me personally. In another life I make a partial living through selling my art. I know exactly what the Singer family goes through. This part of their struggle really hit home with me.
The ending has a predictable cliffhanger to it. I saw it coming a mile away, however I’m not mad at it. I think the situation that Cass set up is perfect given the circumstantial conflict between the principle characters. Do I think she could have resolved it in one book… perhaps, but I am curious to see what else Cass has up her sleeve to pad this idea. The Selection sequel is one I will be watching for in the future.
5 out of 5 stars.