America is a Five. People who are in the social caste "Five" are artists, and America is an excellent musician. She's been sneaking around with a Six -- Aspen -- and they have fallen in love. America knows this will cause all kinds of problems, since in order to marry him, America will have to become a Six.
America's family usually has enough to eat, but they are in no way rich. Those who are Threes, Twos, or Ones are the upper class.
It's time for Prince Maxon to find a wife. The country does this by having a "Selection." Girls between the ages of 16 and 20 can apply and 35 of them are selected to live in the palace with the royal family and associate with the prince, until he chooses one of them to become his wife. Yes, it's like The Bachelor. So, America is encouraged by her family and Aspen to apply. It would be very lucrative for her family if she is selected. And, she is selected. She's one of very few Fives who are, and she expects to be sent home very soon. But, she isn't.
That's as far as I'll go with the plot. I've read a lot of people who compare this to The Hunger Games. I didn't get that at all. There's much more build up in The Hunger Games. The actual games are violent, and at the end of the book. The Selection takes place throughout most of the book. This is Cinderella. Yes, there is a messed up society, but The Selection didn't go very much into those details. Just like Cinderella's family was poor, and she was mistreated. But dystopian? I don't agree. I feel the next installments of this trilogy will perhaps focus much more on the dystopian nature of this world. There's rebellion in The Selection, and the naive prince, thanks to America, begins to understand the realities of life for many of the lower class. But, for the most part, I thought this book was charming and magical like a fairy tale.
America has a bit of a split personality. As soon as she meets the prince, it's like her "snark" comes out. Their banter was very entertaining. I just didn't see that in America's interactions with anyone else -- the other contestants, her family, or with Aspen. I thought Cass did a great job making the contestants have all different types of personalities and cliques, but I really didn't care about any of them. I looked forward to America's scenes with Prince Maxon. I really didn't care for Aspen either, and would have trouble rooting for him to win America's heart.
I found the pace of The Selection compelling; there was always something to keep my interest and the pages flew by. I'm looking forward to recommending The Selection to a lot of teen girls, and can't wait for the second book.
Published by HarperTeen, April 24, 2012
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
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