The Selection by Kiera Cass

I originally read The Selection a few years ago when it first came out. Recently, I happened upon it at the library and decided to give it another shot. I remember feeling fairly ambivalent about it the first time – it was fun but nothing special. I’m a bit of a Bachelor die hard fan, so I decided to reread this. My memory of it the first time was pretty spot on. This is a very light and fluffy read, definitely lacking depth, but great if you can park your brain (and logic) and not question it too deeply.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

The basic concept of this book is nearly identical to The Bachelor – 30ish girls are competing for the heart of one man. The main difference is that the man they’re competing for a is a crown prince and a major upgrade in status. While this was a very fun concept, the plot was very predictable. None of the twists were really surprising, and the main source of tension (the growing uprising in the country) really didn’t add much interest to the story. It’s a happily ever after story with an easy to spot ending, sadly lacking in consequences and any real stakes. Above all, the writing completely lacked a style and was pretty subpar overall. This needed a lot more editing before it hit the shelves.

America is an odd character (with a very bad name). Sometimes you can relate to her and can see why she makes her decisions, and you can almost root for her. Other times, you want to yell at her for her dumb decisions and poor reasoning. For example, refusing to give up on her relationship with Aspen (her ex secret boyfriend) even though maintaining and pursuing that relationship was an objectively a poor choice and they have very little chemistry (and she ends up with a better option right in front of her). The big redeemer of this book was the interesting, and complex, relationship between America and Prince Maxon. They had chemistry right off the bat, but the fact that she started as a confidant for him was an interesting twist that really made me enjoy the book more. Maxon was surprisingly well developed, especially as he began to open up more and more to America. I really enjoyed when he opened up about how his life as a noble had impacted him personally.

Having the volume of girls in the Selection that they did meant that there was a ton of secondary character fodder – girls who were mentioned by name once and did very little to contribute to the plot. While some of the Selected were focused on, even they lacked a lot of depth that I wish would have been there. I would have loved to hear more about what drove them as people and their reasons to submit themselves to the Selection (aside from the obvious). Also, America’s near disassociation with most of the women in the Selection was a little disheartening especially because it was rooted in her tearing them down. I wish she would have had a bit more of a redemption arc with her fellow contestants or at least showed an interest in them as people.

If this book didn’t take itself as seriously as it did, I honestly would have given it a higher rating. It’s a light and airy book that’s great for fans of The Bachelor who want a dystopian take on the same concept. This is the perfect book to break out of a reading slump with, it’s a really fast read and lends itself well to reading in one sitting. If you’re looking for a bit of a darker take on a very similar concept, check out Wither by Lauren DeStefano. 3/5

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