Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Selection Series by Kiera Cass- Review

Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection Series
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Young Adult Romance
For this review, I want to talk about this series as a whole rather than individually because I basically binge read the first 3 books (The Selection, The Elite, and The One) over the course of a week and differentiating events would be difficult for me now. I do plan on doing a separate review for the next book in the series titled The Heir because it follows a different protagonist.

So, this series follows a young girl from a rather poor family or caste that reluctantly puts in for The Selection and actually gets chosen to participate in the competition to become the prince's wife. The story follows America Singer as she enters the palace to compete for Prince Maxon's love with 34 other girls. Only America isn't sure she wants to be there and she may have feelings for someone else. She befriends and eventually develops feelings for Maxon as she tries to decipher her feelings for her childhood friend, Aspen, and whether or not she thinks she could make a good queen. Basically, this story is the TV show "The Bachelor" set in a futuristic dystopian society where everyone is born into a caste system that decides what type of jobs are available to you and thus limiting your earning potential. So, obviously joining The Selection makes financial sense for America and her family as they are 5's and struggle with money some of the time.

This series actually surprised me. From the cover and the synopsis, this book seems like pure romantic fluff, which is not my thing. I only decided to read it because it was recommended to me by someone who also doesn't like the romantic fluff. So, I gave it a go. America is a fantastic character; she's smart, witty and doesn't swoon all over the prince. I really liked her perspective and I think she made this long drawn out selection process easy to read and stay invested in the story. She also has internal struggles which makes her make poor decisions a lot of the time, but because you know she truly wants to do the right thing, she is redeemable through it all.

I also really enjoyed the fact that not all the girls were malicious through the process. I think it would have been easy to imagine the girls trying to destroy each other like they do on the show "The Bachelor" especially since a prince was the prize. But it was refreshing that most the girls really developed friendships and loyalties to each other despite the competitive nature of the selection. I mean even Celeste came around eventually and no one really retaliated on her antics, which I appreciated that the "mean girls" trope was not glorified in this series.

A few problems I had with this series stemmed from the world building. The first novel does an excellent job explaining the hardships of life in this caste system for the lower castes which America and Aspen living. However, once America is chosen and moves to the palace we learn there are two rebel camps that are angry with the monarchy and are organizing and attacking. But there is no real explanation is given on why they are attacking and why their ideological views differ. Sometimes it feels like a plot device to cause drama rather than a real setting. By the end of the third book there are some explanations given but not many and no real solution is given for ending the insurgency. It was a little disappointing that this unique society was kind of brushed under the rug much of the time and even America, who was active in seeking information some of the time, could easily forget about it in favor of a party or walk around the garden. It also seemed strange to me that while America had the diary of Illea's founder, that she didn't devour the information in it. She barely read it and I felt like more entries would have helped to clarify some of the problems with the world building and helped to explain some more reasons for the rebellions.

Another major issue I had was the love triangle. I felt like it was kind of over done and some of the choices America makes regarding Aspen were just ridiculous. I don't think anyone with a brain would have made some of the choices she makes, which made her frustrating to read from. A lot of the time she knew it was a bad choice with bad consequences but did it any way because, "you know love and stuff."

Despite the minor problems I had with these novels, I really did enjoy them because reading from America's perspective was fresh and fun although sometimes frustrating. This series also has several novellas from different perspectives throughout this selection and the series continues on for at least two more books 20 years after the end of The One. I would recommend these books if you are interested in a fast read with unique dystopian society, a spunky female protagonist and a fantastic love interest. I give the whole series  3.5 stars.

Get The Selection here.

Get The Elite here.

Get The One here.

Get The Selection Series here.

 If you have read this or are interested in starting this series let me know your thoughts below!

Talk soon!