Not as bloody as The Hunger Games or as icky as The Bachelor

A review of The Selection by Keira Cass

This book has been hyped as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor.*  I'll say this:  not so much, for good or bad; I really enjoyed this book as a standard YA fairy tale romance.  It's more like an extended version of the ball that Cinderella attends along with all the ladies of the land in order for the prince to find a wife, with a few television interviews and some military unrest.

I am an avid reader of young-adult fiction.  I am winding down on the YA dystopian (primarily trilogy) trend that includes outstanding books like The Hunger Games, Incarceron, Divergent, Delirium, Matched, and Legend.  I love them all, but I'm getting a bit weary of keeping track of all the future lands and names and various abuses of power.  I'm still a sucker for star-crossed lovers, however, so I'm letting this new trilogy slide.  Plus, look at that cover.  GORGEOUS.

The Selection is a mild dystopia at best, set in a post WWIII United States divided by castes.  America Singer is in the artist caste, which is number Five, and struggling.  Her family is large and never has enough food.  Her secret boyfriend, Aspen, is a Six and part of the servant class.  If America marries him, she will have to give up her music career and become a servant as well. 

It just so happens that it is also time for Prince Maxon to find a bride.  Because he lives in the confines of the palace and is unable to meet girls and date like a normal boy (and because they all live in a mildly dystopian universe with castes and no dating) there is a special contest to find a princess.  Thirty-five girls from across the country are "Selected" to meet the prince, stay in the palace and date, à la The Bachelor.  But unlike The Bachelor, this is not essentially media-endorsed prostitution on a tropical island.  Prince Maxon is pretty cool, the dating is way more casual, and there are a few rebel attacks on the royal family to mix it up a bit.  Also, the girls are guests in the palace, attend royal functions, dine with the king and queen, and wear amazing gowns and jewels, so there's a fairy tale element to the story as well. 

Our heroine, America, is begrudgingly one of the "Selected" and starts pushing boundaries.  She lets the prince know from day one that she's only participating in order to support her family.  She is opposed to this method of choosing a spouse, still devoted to her secret boyfriend and also wildly attracted to the prince.  I'm pretty confident America and Prince Maxon will end up together, but book one ends with a cliffhanger.  I have no idea where this trilogy is going and I'm totally hooked.

*There was a bit of a controversy surrounding this book while it was being circulated as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) by the publisher.  A Goodreads review resulted in a nasty exchange of comments and a Twitter war that was examined in the Publisher's Weekly article Should Authors and Agents Weigh in on Citizen Reviews?  I was vaguely aware of the controversy, but chose not to read these comments in-depth until after I was done reading the book.  My opinion of the book did not change.  It's still a really fun read.


As reported in EarlyWord, The CW Network has plans to turn The Selection into a television series.  The complete article is available from Deadline Hollywood.