LLR REVIEW: Selection by Keira Cass (Selection book One)

Long lost Reviews (LLR) is a  monthly featured hosted by Ally @ Ally’s Appraisals where bloggers are encouraged to tackle their review backlog with book reviews that have been sitting there for a long time. Reviews can range from in-depth analyses to one sentence statements with no pressure applied. To learn more and see participating blogs visit Ally’s blog here.

Published: 1st June 2012

Publisher: Harper Collins

Pages: 327

Format: Paperback (owned)

RRP:$16.99

4/5 Stars

In a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels the Selection is the chance of a lifetime: to compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s ear. But for America Singer it means turning her back on her secret love, and leaving home for a prize she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Maxon and all her plans start to crumble. Can the life she’s always dreamed of compare to a future she never imagined?

I first read The Selection back in 2015, after having put the series off for a LONG time thanks to some bookish drama that I’m not going to rehash here. I’m not sure what prompted me to finally pick the books up in 2015, but I’m really glad I did as I DEVOURED the first three books in the original series SUPER QUICK. To this day, I’ve got fond memories of the series, but never really felt inspired to pick them back up (kind of a so-many-books-not-enough-time kind of situation). Then it was announced that Netflix is doing an adaptation of the series, and Kayla at Booksandlala starts doing a mass re-read with live shows, and I found myself immersed in the world of Illea once more. I regret nothing.

The Selection by Kiera Cass is essentially The Hunger Games cross The Bachelor. So if you like either one of those things, chances are your going to find something to enjoy in the Selection.

The Selection is a YA story featuring a live broadcast competition where thirty-six women, one from each province, across a number of caste classes, compete for the attention of Prince Maxon Schreave.  Compete is probably a strong word, as the women don’t necessarily do much other than stand-there-and-look-pretty waiting for Prince Maxon to choose them for a date. Eventually, though, Maxon will choose his future wife, and thus the future Queen of Illea from these thirty-six women.

Naturally, the women chosen to be part of the ultimate thirty-six are beside themselves trying to get the Prince’s attention, except for our protagonist America Singer (yes, that is her name, yes it’s not really original, but whatever). No, America was “content to be a five” and was happy with her life’s plan prior to being picked for the selection. Now, picture an outspoken, stubborn, and pissed off young women being thrown into a competition she despises, for the love of someone she doesn’t know … and you’ve got America Singer in a nut-shell.

‘That stupid letter could lift me out of the darkness, and I could pull my family along with me.”

America is naive, poor, and guilted into applying for the Selection because of her family’s situation. At times she reads one dimensional, and that annoyed the crap out of me. But at others, and this is something I picked up a lot more during my second re-read thanks to annotation, but she felt like the was more than the vessel through which we enter the story and learn about the world around us. She was a teaching aid, for us, and for Maxon about the caste systems, about how to be a good friend, a better partner and ideally a better ruler when his time comes.

New home, new caste, new life. All because of a stupid piece of paper and a picture.

Maxon is wooing all of the girls with extravagant and ‘cute’ dates (movies, light tours etc), and yet because of America and his agreement, when he has one-on-one time with America, the pair are low-key and allowed to be just themselves. No one is playing a role, and both parties appear to more genuine. They are friends first and thus the resulting relationship develops organically. It feels more real; made of more substance than simply a forced together situation.

America, my dear, I do hope you find something in this cage worth fighting for. After all this, I can only imagine what it would be like to see you actually try.”

America doesn’t want to be Queen. Never did. Unlike the thirty-five other women she is competing against, America is there for her own reasons. To help her family out financially, and because the then love of her her life, now ex, made her promise she would enter. That doesn’t mean America doesn’t care about who will become Queen. As the book progresses, America proves to be a responsible and kind of progressive women who is invested in who their leaders are. She wants Maxon’s wife to be well suited to the role of Queen, someone willing and able to handle the responsibility and everything that comes with it.

This thing that seemed little more than a game show to me was his only chance for happiness.

Through their interactions, America teaches Maxon to become more human, to open up and interact with people in a more realistic and approachable way. Although she is doing this for their friendship, I guess the end goal is, Maxon keeps her around and her family gets paid, she repays that debt by helping him become not only the best friend he can be, but the best partner, and ultimately the best leader that Illea has ever seen.

Maxon, I hope you find someone you can’t live without. I really do. And I hope you never have to know what it’s like to have to try and live without them.

Despite Kiera Cass’s best efforts, I think Maxon and America still come off across a bit insta-love-ish rather than a slow-burn. Which is interesting since their relationship and the ultimate will-they-or-won’t-they question is going to play out over the course of three books. WE ALL KNEW WHAT WE were getting ourselves into with this read. It’s a romance, it was always going to have an HEA and that’s okay. It doesn’t bother me that we know who will ultimately be the Queen. But I just don’t think its a slow-burn romance and I think that was maybe the author’s intention.

True love is usually the most inconvenient type.

Despite Maxon being the whole point of our story, he really isn’t all the present on the page. His character growth is slow, sometimes non-existent, and he seems forced more often than not. However, every now and then, there are these short glimpses of him, where he comes across unguarded, real and honest. It’s a raw character … and surprisingly refreshing after America’s self-righteous narration style to be frank.

Maybe I was just filtering myself, thinking I’d be worth some sort of risk. 

The Selection is a fast moving series, with each book moving incredibly faster  as the outside world threatens their bubble. Despite this, the story as a whole is engaging, which is odd when you considered this is the first of three books and not a lot really happens in this book. Yes, we get backstory, and a tiny bit of world building (there isn’t anywhere enough of that), but this book is ultimately a set up for the next one as one of the biggest things to happen here is Maxon cutting the group slowly from thirty-six women to six. There is a lot of filler.  I can’t help but think that perhaps all three books couldn’t have been combined into maybe two, or realistically perhaps even just one novel?

I originally begrudgingly rated this book a barely-there three-star rating on Goodreads back in the day. I’ve since bumped that up to a four-star rating, that’s pushing the envelope of being a five-star. What’s changed you ask? The story is obviously still the same, but in 2015 I was a lot harsher on particular things and while Kiera Cass is a brilliant story-teller, I have a few problems with her writing (the writing is a bit clumsy). There is A LOT of telling, and she never really explains anything, but rather we get told everything. This could be because of America’s cast level meaning she’s isn’t all that well educated and thus doesn’t really know much about the world around her. I think it’s more to do with this being Cass’ debut novel though.

So while this book isn’t the best novel out there (there are many better written novels), it is a fun read. The Selection was never trying to be great literature, rather it just wanted to be fun read and that is exactly what it is. Kiera Cass has a great knack for keeping your attention, and dragging you (somewhat begrudgingly at times) along for the ride.

We pick up books for a number of different reasons, so if you are looking for a light, fluffy book that occasionally holds a mirror up to societies values, but does not pretend to be anything more than a light, entertaining read, then I recommend this one.

To purchase a copy of The Selection, visit the following online retailers:

HARPER COLLINS AUSAMAZON AUS | AMAZON USA | ANGUS & ROBERTSON | BARNES & NOBLEBooktopia | BOOK DEPOSITORY | Dymocks | QBD

 

To learn more about Kiera Cass, visit the following social media pages:

Keira Cass website | Instagram | Twitter

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