For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. 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. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
This book series is one I’ve continuously glanced at in the bookstores near my home several times. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to pick it up. So, finally, I gave in (despite the very mixed reviews) and bought it on my NOOK. It was in the weekly $2.99 section, and so, I was kind-of like “might as well…” Now, after reading the book, I have grown attached. While many of the one-star ratings out there have some truth (weird character names and not enough world development), I can personally say that 1) I thought the names made the book more unique, and if you are an English guru, than you understand the irony behind the main character’s name, and 2) yes, I thought that there could have been more development of the lower castes. However! I thought the pure mystery behind it all gave it a true futuristic perspective. Some criticize Cass for not developing more of her vision, but in reality, I think she’s genius. The story is told by America Singer NOT Kiera Cass. Yes, Cass wrote the novel, but America, Cass’s protagonist, is the one actually telling the story. In order to write the book, Cass had to become America, and in this first book, America really doesn’t know or understand much about her world. So, for me, it makes since that the development of the castes and everything is a tad vague. I don’t remember a single portion of that book that I couldn’t simply dream up my own idea of it all, and that’s the point behind fantasy books. Anyone who criticizes an author for not giving you a “perfect image” is simply not aware of the fact that many fantasy novels are that way because they want to be opened for interpretation. For example, in the Harry Potter series, readers are introduced to Hogwarts. Sure, Rowling had A TON of description. However, each reader still had their own vision. I believe Kiera Cass did a wonderful job of involving the reader with her story. You have to be up to creating your own images and having fun if you want to take on this book. I did, and I loved it.
The hotly-anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestsellerThe Selection.
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.
The Review *Spoilers*
Because this is a “Double Review” of both The Selection and The Elite, I will simply say that everything I said about the first book in the series still applies to this one. HOWEVER, The Elite brought a whole new America (as in the character) to the table. Readers watch America learn how to believe in herself. From the first book, we see that America is obviously a head-strong type of girl, but with her fantasizing over Prince Maxon and Aspen, we never get a true glimpse of who America really is. This changes in The Elite. Though America is still caught between the two men she’s fallen for, Kiera Cass did a great job of establishing America as an individual. One thing I found annoying in the first book was the fact that America was not choosing. Instead, the boys were choosing her. It’s obvious she loves them equally, but I disliked how America was perceived as weakened by her own heart. In the sequel, America starts off the same way, but as it progresses, it becomes apparent that in the third and final book, she will have grown to be the girl worth reading about. I loved that this book delved a bit into the actual struggles of the monarchy that rules over America’s people. I also loved how America stood up for herself many times, as well as her friends in the Elite top six. She really starts to step out of her shell in this book. I found enjoyment just in the fact that, as a reader, I wanted America to see herself as everyone else sees her: a Princess; and in this book, she’s finally starting to see that. She recognizes her strengths and talents, and she learns how to be who she needs to be when the time calls for it. This sequel lived up to my expectations, though not beyond. I was really hoping for some more character developing for the two boys. It’s hard to pick a side when they are both such mysterious characters. I hope that is something Cass really develops in the final book, and I can’t wait to see how it all ends!
My Star Rating for The Selection and The Elite by Keira Cass:
Jinapher J. Hoffman