A great book, perfect for people who like romace and dystopian
The Selection by Kiera Cass was an interesting book to read. On the one hand, I really enjoyed it, and finished it really quickly. But on the other hand, there were some characterization issues, and the ending was too abrupt. Luckily, the pros far weighed out the cons. It was such a fun book to read, and I can't wait until the next one in the series.
America is our protagonist. She lives in a society where everyone is divided into a certain caste ranging from Ones at the top to Eights at the bottom. Everyone Four and below get subsequently poorer, while Threes and above are the wealthiest, culminating in Ones being royalty. America and her family are Fives; this is the Artisan caste. Each person in the caste must do some sort of art to make a living, and there isn't much co-mingling among the castes. It is heard of for someone to marry up, but almost never for someone to marry down. And this is where the trouble begins. America is love with Aspen, a Six (a servant). If she were to marry him, she'd move down in status. I think this adds a layer to their relationship. Based on this information, it really shows how deeply she loves Aspen, and in return how deeply he loves her. Willingly moving castes is something one only does for love, and that isn't always enough.
In addition to the caste system, there is "The Selection", where 35 girls are picked from each district (they may still have states, that's never made clear) of the country to compete to win the hand of Prince Maxon, and become the next queen. I liked the idea of "The Selection". It isn't just a simpler Bachelorette premise; there is a very real reason to choose from the populace, giving the entire thing an underlying political menace. Also, just by taking part in the process, all the girls are elevated in caste and their families are compensated for the entire length of the girl's stay. So not only does the girl gain a better life, but so does her entire family, forever. Even more impactful is the fact that the chosen girl and her family are immediately bumped to Ones (royalty). This fact, with the monetary gain and stability, makes winning the competition more serious.
This is just one of the interesting parts of the society in which The Selection is set. While not all aspects are clear or even defined, there is a great outline for an interesting dystopic society. It is a mix of the United States that the readers know, and a country torn apart by war and remade. There is so much potential, which I hope Cass explores in the next books.
The characters were pretty good; America was my favorite. I really felt for her. I'm sure some readers found her whiney or over-reactive, but for two years she was in love with and planning to marry Aspen, only to have that destroyed. Then she's pushed into a strange place with girls she doesn't know who are all fighting to gain the attention of a guy she has no interest in. I'd be emotional as well. But I like to think she doesn't just roll over and become like all the others. America is tough and does stand for what she believes in; being more than first impressions might show. Prince Maxon also turns out to be more than he seems. I felt he was a really fair and heartfelt guy, but as prince he must do as is expected. Every time he did something kind for America, I loved him a little bit more.
The ending is the part that I disliked the most. I understand that this is a series, but where Cass ended the story was so abrupt. It was even a true cliffhanger, and left me feeling very unsatisfied. The book doesn't even complete the entire selection process, which would be fine if I ended up caring about who was winning, but it was a let down. I felt that many parts were dragged out and the most important, who would win, was just halted in order to increase sales. Of course if that was the case, it worked because I need to know! Tricky!
Overall, I did really enjoy the book. It might not have been the strongest in the execution, but the concept is really interesting. I wanted more when I closed the book, and I hope to get it in the next book. I think Keira Cass has a good start to the series in The Selection, and I look forward to reading more from her!