Cover Lust: This series has hands-down the most drop-dead gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen. The tiara, the mirrors, the font, the DRESS! I would give up my whole bookshelf for that dress! Well, maybe not, but I’d definitely prance around in the blue ball gown I wore to my junior prom and pretend to be America (with blonde hair). The UK cover is even prettier with the splash of pink (see below), if that’s even possible. I could literally stand at my bookshelf and stare at these covers all day. America is portrayed by the lovely and talented Audrey Hollister.
Back Blurb: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.
The opportunity 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, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she begins to realize that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
WARNING: This book sucks you in from the very beginning. It’s like a sugar addiction, so good you constantly need a fix. It’s basically impossible to put down. Kiera Cass will be your new idol and the reason you can’t get to sleep at a decent hour every night.
The Book: When I first saw this book, I dropped to my knees and swooned over the magnificent cover. I read the back blurb and was instantly hooked. A princess fairytale meets reality TV? Yes, please! But all that glitters is not gold. There’s plenty of scandal, shock, and betrayal that will satisfy your thirst for a juicy romance. It’s a total guilty pleasure that must be indulged.
The Plot: Three hundred years in the future, the United States has fallen and become Illéa, a country where people’s lives and worth are dictated according to their caste number. The royal family are the elite Ones who rule the lower classes. Twos, Threes, and Fours live comfortably while Fives and below are destitute. The lower castes are forced to abide by strict rules, otherwise they are punished by being exiled into Eights. Infractions of the law can mean imprisonment or death.
It is tradition for the royal family to hold a Selection when they have a son who is coming of age. They “randomly” select thirty-five girls, one from each of Illéa’s provinces, for the prince to choose from as his wife and future queen. Girls are eliminated by a series of competitions and dates with the prince until he chooses who he wants to marry (like a futuristic Bachelor). The Selection is a highly coveted event. Every girl in Illéa dreams of being Selected, except for America Singer.
Seventeen-year-old America is a Five and is content with her humble lifestyle. She longs to marry a Six named Aspen. It is taboo for women to marry into lower castes, so America and Aspen are forced to hide their relationship. Aspen wants nothing more than to give America a comfortable life; not constantly hungry and scraping by like he is. He urges her to sign up for the Selection because winning means she and her family could be Ones. They’d never have to worry about money or food again. He loves her and wants to marry her, but doesn’t want her to miss out on such a life-changing opportunity. It’s not likely, but what if she were so lucky as to be Selected?
America, on the other hand, is disgusted by the Selection. Winning means her family’s wildest dreams would come true, but she believes the Selection is a degradation to young girls. She is determined to marry for love, not status or money. She’s made up her mind: She wants to marry Aspen. America begrudgingly enters after her mother bribes her, convinced she’d never be picked. Suddenly Aspen suddenly breaks up with her, angry and embarrassed when he realizes he can never provide for her or give her the life that she deserves. America is heartbroken. Then she is Selected.
America’s family is so excited and hopeful that she can’t let them down. She also needs to get away from Aspen, who just ripped her heart into shreds. When she arrives at the royal palace she is overwhelmed by the indulgences, hesitant to accept things she didn’t work for. She doesn’t want to win, only to stay in the competition long enough to give her family hope and to heal from her heartbreak. America is overwhelmed at the thought of competing against 34 other girls for something she doesn’t want, especially while it’s televised live throughout the entire country. She meets Prince Maxon unofficially before the contest begins and is upfront with her feelings. Maxon is kinder and more real than she expected. He offers to keep her in the palace as long as she likes. America decides to be his confidante and help him search for a wife, but soon realizes their friendship may be more than it seems.
Throughout the competition, America learns what it’s like to build and maintain friendships, something she has never had before. She finds the most comfort in her maids; Lucy, Anne, and Mary. They are Sixes and although technically it is inappropriate for her to socialize with them, she enjoys their company. She finds it easier to befriend girls who have similar struggles as her, being of a lower caste. She’s also delighted to meet Marlee, a Four, who is sweet and bubbly and to whom she can also relate. Unfortunately, America also discovers how vicious and cruel other girls can be when she has something they want: the affection of the prince.
As America navigates the beautiful but corrupt world of the royals, she discovers her confidence and voice. Her unexpected friendship with Prince Maxon suddenly takes a turn. Maxon is everything she never thought he would be: kind, gentle, caring, funny, compassionate. It is obvious Maxon has feelings for her, but she is hesitant to let go of her dreams of being with Aspen. Afraid of getting hurt, she holds on to those feelings until she surprisingly finds herself truly attracted to Maxon. Torn between her emotions, she is suddenly thrown out of balance when her past meets up with her in the palace. Soon she realizes the Selection is exactly where she is supposed to be. It is changing her life remarkably, for better or worse.
The Side Plot: Although there are many characters who are introduced with interesting backstories, something looming over the all glamour is the rebel attacks. Two sets of rebel terrorist groups, one from the North and one from the South, frequently attack the palace. It is unknown exactly why they attack; neither group has officially made any demands. The Northerners attack more frequently but don’t often make it inside. When they do, they ransack the palace as if searching for something. They tend to not injure people, unlike the Southerners. Their attacks are more deadly, as if they’re trying to take down the royal family. Prince Maxon suspects the Southerners may be trying to overthrow the government.
America and the other Selected are warned that there may be attacks, but it soon becomes more than many of them bargained for. The Selected are protected during the attacks, but are terrified as they sit in secret rooms waiting to see whether the rebels will finally succeed. The prices of the prince and the crown suddenly become much more than some are willing to pay.
The attacks encourage discourse among the Selected regarding Illéa’s history and social issues. Exactly what do these groups want? Why is Illéa’s history so blurry? There are no textbooks or other evidence of events that supposedly happened during the country’s formation. America once browsed through a history book her parents owned, but they swore her to secrecy of the fact that they owned the book. Books are rare and most of Illéa’s history is repeated verbally. America suspects the attacks may be related to Illéa’s true past.
- America: A fiery redhead who is stubborn and headstrong, but passionate and kind. America is wise beyond her years from growing up as an impoverished Five. While she doubts her intelligence, beauty, and worth, she remains strong-willed for her family and those she loves. Flawed but not vulnerable, she stands up for what she believes in, often speaking before thinking. Her temper frequently gets her into trouble. She refuses to change who she is to please other people. Humble, selfless, and generous, America is a natural leader who finds comfort in helping others.
- May: May is the little sister I’ve always wanted. She is vivacious, sweet, and bubbly. She loves America more than anything, and America absolutely adores her. May is like America’s own personal cheerleader. At fourteen years old, she is romantic, dreamy, and a little boy crazy. She has an innocence to her that is endearing and makes you want to protect her from all harm.
- Aspen: Aspen is, to put it nicely, a sexist pig. He lets his ego and pride get the best of him, breaking up with America BECAUSE SHE BOUGHT HIM FOOD. Yeah, he’s a guy, but that doesn’t mean he has to be America’s sole provider. America would never sit back and let someone take care of her without doing her fair share. When you love someone you make sacrifices. You don’t shatter their heart into a million pieces. Aspen needs a swift kick in the ass and a serious attitude adjustment.
- Maxon: Prince Maxon is dreamy and handsome, as any prince would be. He is proper and eloquent, but inexperienced with women. He’s never had any romantic conquests or even any real friends. He seems to truly care about those he does let into his life, especially America. Maxon is well-educated and intelligent, but unfortunately naïve. His excessive and worldly lifestyle has made him unaware of the adversities of his own people. On the outside he appears confident and powerful, but once the barriers are broken we see that he is scared and doubtful.
- Marlee: Marlee is a complete sweetheart. She is a lot like May but more experienced socially. Sweet and bubbly, she is the girl who brings a smile to everyone in the room. Marlee is genuine, not at all fake like lots of the other girls. She loves to talk about celebrities, but is classy enough to not gossip about the others.
- Celeste: There’s only one word for Celeste: BITCH. She is hateful, jealous, and manipulative. She is nasty and vindictive to the other girls, but sweet and fake to the royals. Her tactics are cut-throat. She’s here to win and will do anything to get the crown. And she’s willing to hurt whoever stands in her way.
- Kriss: Kriss is a tame version of Celeste: conniving, jealous, and gossipy. She is two-faced and you’re never sure which one she will be showing you. She is sweet to America and the two get along, but America can see that Kriss is just as vulnerable as everyone else. She seems to be the first to have the news on everybody, constantly judging the competition and making assumptions that turn into fights.
- Anne, Mary, and Lucy: The maids are intriguing group; they are obviously more than just a label of Sixes. Anne is in charge and is firm but kind. Mary is easygoing and always happy to be working. Lucy is the youngest and most fragile. She is proud to be a maid and is
eager to please. She has a tragic backstory that will make you want to reach out and hold her.
What’s Next: The Selection has a huge following…Pinterest boards, wikis, a movie in the works, several spin-off novellas, handmade jewelry. If you have not yet read The Selection, get yourself to a bookstore or log on to your iBooks account immediately! I recommend buying the physical copies. Although digitals are great, nothing compares to the splendor of holding these beautiful books in your hands. Or, if you’re a complete book addict like me, buy both. Just in case. The next book is in the series is The Elite (#2), and don’t forget to read the novellas, The Queen (#0.4), and The Prince (#0.5).
Kiera Cass is a goddess, a beautiful soul inside and out. Her Instagram is filled with pics of her kids and tidbits for her readers. She keeps her readers involved and listens to what we have to say. All shall bow and hail to the Queen of YA, Mrs. Kiera Cass!
Best Scenes: (SPOILERS)
- America berates Maxon the first time they meet
- Maxon makes a bet with America over strawberry tarts
- America kicks Maxon in the crown jewels
- Anna slaps Celeste
- Celeste rips America’s dress
- Maxon’s first kiss
- The new guard is assigned to America
- Celeste “accidentally” spills punch on Kriss’s dress
- America takes her maids to the safe room
- The Elite are chosen
Best Quotes: (MORE SPOILERS)
- “Listen to me, kitten. Win or lose, you’ll always be a princess to me.”
- “I am not your dear.”
- “The man or the crown. I’m afraid some cannot tell the difference.”
- “Oh, please don’t cry! I never know what to do when women cry!”
- “Don’t these strawberry tarts just make you want to cry?”
- “You get confused by crying women, I get confused by walks with princes.”
- “I should have known that if any girl was going to disobey an order, it would be you.”
- “True love is usually the most inconvenient kind.”
- “Is this a good time to pat your shoulder?”
- “It’s hard to get a hug wrong.”
- “Your Majesty–-Tugging my ear. Whenever.”
- “One can never help being born into perfection.”
- “No, I’m not choosing him or you. I’m choosing me.”
How much did you love The Selection? Sound off in the comments below!