Cover of The Selection, with white, redheaded teen girl wearing a light blue ballgown, surrounded by mirrors

About the Book

Title: The Selection (The Selection #1)
Published: 2012
Series: The Selection
Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Cover Story: Legit Fancy Dress
BFF Charm: Nay
Talky Talk: Plain and Simple
Bonus Factors: The Bachelor, Living Like Royalty
Relationship Status: I Won’t Eliminate You… Yet

Cover Story: Legit Fancy Dress

When I first saw this cover, I was like, DAMN, that is an amazing ball gown. Then I felt bad for myself for about two minutes, thinking about how, even if I had a dress like that, I would never have any excuse to wear it except for, like, MAYBE Halloween, but then some weirdo zombie person would probably brush past me and get make-up and fake blood all over it. GAH, zombies are annoying. And THEN I thought that whenever we do finally have an FYA convention, we are TOTALLY going to have a ball where we all dress up like we’re on YA covers (but, like, with heads and stuff) and THEN I could totally wear that dress! I CANNOT WAIT YOU GUYS.

Oh, I almost forgot about my original point! So, the main character actually does wear formal gowns all of the time, so this might be the one time that a fancy dress cover is actually, like, deserved.


The Deal:

In a future, dystopian version of the United States called Illéa, people are placed in castes depending on their profession and economic status. The ruling monarchy is, of course, composed of Ones, while artists are Fives and servants are Sixes. (I shudder to think where us FYA gals would end up– probably Eights, along with the other crazies.) Our heroine, America Singer– wait, have we STILL not managed to move on from weird names in dystopia? SERIOUSLY? I will buy a champ can for the next author who publishes a YA dystopian novel with a main character named Courtney– anyway, America is a Five along with the rest of her family, but she’s prepared to do the unthinkable and step down a level, because her heart belongs to a Six named Aspen. But when Prince Maxon announces his intention to find a bride through The Selection, a reality TV-esque process that has become a national tradition, Aspen begs America to enter in order to make her family some much-needed money.  To no one but America’s surprise, she is picked along with thirty-four other girls and whisked away to the palace, but not before Aspen, in a fit of pride, breaks up with her, because she deserves better than a Six. Nursing a broken heart, America has no interest in winning Prince Maxon’s hand, but of course, that only makes her more attractive to him. And as the Selection progresses, America discovers that she might not want to lose after all…

BFF Charm: Nay

BFF Charm that says "denied"

It’s not that America isn’t nice. She’s nice! And it’s not that she doesn’t care about other people. She really cares about other people! It’s just that… she’s so BORING. She’s like that girl that we all knew in high school that did lots of community service and sang in the choir and… yeah, what was her name again? EXACTLY. She’s not nearly as bland as Bella Swan, but she triggers the same reaction: WHY DOES EVERYONE THINK THIS GIRL IS SO GREAT? Why is Aspen, the hottest dude in town, in love with her? Why does Prince Maxon, who could literally pick any woman in the kingdom, think she’s the cat’s pajamas? I wish I knew but THIS BOOK WOULDN’T TELL ME.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

I know y’all are probably all sick of love triangles, but I’m still a fan of them… if they’re done well. And the triangle in this book rates right around mediocre. First, the hotness of the boys isn’t developed enough. And I don’t mean I need descriptions of their rock hard abs (although that certainly doesn’t hurt!), I just want more layers to their character. I want them to be smoldering on the inside AND the outside. Also, I really need Prince Maxon to stop calling all of the girls “dear” because what is he, their grandmother? Secondly, the book doesn’t give Aspen much time to make his case, so even though America is supposedly wild with grief over their break-up, I just didn’t buy it.

Still, this book earns a respectable swoon score due to the tension created by The Selection and the idea that America might get to MARRY A PRINCE.

Talky Talk: Plain and Simple

Cass doesn’t waste time with flowery descriptions or thoughtful, penetrating reflections, even though the latter would have certainly benefited her characters. She writes in a straight forward, basic style, and her pacing definitely helps you race through the story. The dialogue is relatively believable, although, as I mentioned earlier, Prince Maxon’s “formal” way of talking feels off the mark, and most of America’s attempts at humor fall flat. I would file Cass’ style under the beach read category– it’s light, fun, and you can still keep up with it, even after that second piña colada.

Bonus Factor: The Bachelor

If I lived in Panem, I would try to avoid watching The Hunger Games as much as possible. But if I lived in Illéa, I would not only tune in to The Selection broadcasts, I would host mother-effing viewing parties! Because while shows like The Bachelor are deeply shallow and devoid of human decency, they are also INCREDIBLY ENTERTAINING. Y’all could all come over to my place, and we’d pop some champers and talk about our favorite candidates and hate on all of the biotches (SUCK IT, CELESTE) and then watch, with bated breath, as Prince Maxon interacted with each girl. And then we’d analyze every second for an hour afterwards. It would be awesome! I mean, just think about how much more epic the British Royal Wedding would have been if we’d gotten to see Prince William handpick Kate Middleton from a vast array of eligible ladies? SO EPIC.

Bonus Factor: Living Like Royalty

When The Selection begins, America freely admits that she’s only staying for the money for her family… and the food. But I would venture to add that she also decides to stay because she gets to live in a freaking palace! With three maids! And a huge closet of dresses! And lush, rolling gardens! And fancy parties! You know, little girls have the right idea– being a princess is BOSS.

Relationship Status: I Won’t Eliminate You… Yet

Listen, book. We both know that you’ve got your flaws. And there are plenty of other books vying for my love and attention that are better written than you are. But I admit, you intrigue me. So I’m going to keep you around for a while longer and see what happens between us. Who knows? Maybe your sequel will make for a hot, juicy date! And while I don’t imagine I’ll give you my rose, I’d like to keep my options open, just for entertainment’s sake.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy from Harper Collins. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review (dammit!). 

Sarah lives in Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.