Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Selection

There are probably several words that would be appropriate to describe The Selection, by Kiera Cass, but let me give you my top two. Immediate ending impression: Annoying. Overall reading impression: Intriguing. This was a book that was easy to read. Once I opened the cover, it went fast. There's something to be said for that. I've read a lot of books that aren't that compelling.

On the other hand, this book fell short in some important ways, not the least of which is the end. First of all, I felt like I was reading someone's cushy, G-rated, mom-approved version of The Hunger Games. There's no killing, but all the other pieces are there! It's a dystopian post-United-States world with some of the same technology we have today. There are castes, Twos living the good life and Eights barely surviving. Girls are selected to compete for the prince's heart, their families receiving compensation in the meantime. The heroine leaves a lover at home and falls in love with someone new during the course of the competition. There are rebels who keep attacking the palace. I think someone said, "What if we took The Hunger Games and made it a little less like ancient Rome and a little more like The Bachelor instead?" That's what this book feels like, unfortunately. Fans of The Hunger Games will see the similarities and scoff.

And to top it all off, someone thought it would be a good idea to make this a series (as all young adult novels are these day), but I think they were badly mistaken. Yes, I'm sure the author will find a way to draw this out into several books, but this could certainly have been a one-book story. Instead, the end is unsatisfying and might even turn readers off.

The main problem is that America (I didn't like the heroine's name, myself), the heroine, can't decide between her almost-fiance from home and the prince she's growing more attached to. Both are great guys, of course. Both are madly in love with her, of course. Oh, to be able to be so choosey! I mean, really, this sends a terrible message to girls: wait as long as you can because one day, you'll have more choices than you can handle and you want to be sure you pick right. Does that sound like reality to you?

(SPOILERS) And most annoying of all, the first guy America loved shows up and begins to ruin America's chances at the prince by helping her break the rules. Eventually, the prince will find out (not in this book!), and it will cause hysteria and confusion and avoidable pain. I absolutely hated that about this book. It's unnecessary conflict. Just let the story end! Happily!

If you love dystopian fiction, don't read this for that; there's not enough of it in here, though elements have potential. If you love beauty pageants, then this might be more up your alley.

I'd seen bad reviews for this book, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. Undoubtedly, my opinions were colored from the start by what I'd read about the book; I kept looking for flaws. Nonetheless, I was growing attached until the end ruined it. I give it three stars for potential and readability.

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