Monday, August 17, 2015

The YA Investigation: The Selection by Kiera Cass

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.

My rating: 3.5/5

I hadn’t really expected much from The Selection besides a fun and fluffy read, and in that department the book delivered well enough since I found myself giggling and smiling every now and then.
The story is a sort of splice between the Bachelor and The Hunger Games, not because the girls are killing themselves to get the prince, but rather because it takes a bunch of elements from the franchise and re-adapts it to this novel.

As with Shatter Me, I’ll point out, this is not Dystopian. This is a romance set in a dystopian world. What’s the difference you may ask? Well that, for starters, a dystopian novel brings up social, economical, cultural and political issues into a new perspective. The selection on the other hand, deals with a love triangle whilst some nameless rebels (Ok, they are actually the “Southerns” and “Northerns” but they are never really explained well.) enter the castle and break stuff, twice.

You’ll notice as you read, that there are a lot of elements reminiscent of The Hunger games: Casts like the districts, with each doing something for the Royals (Six are servants, five are entertainers like in THG each districts dedicates themselves to something like, harvesting, luxury making, etc). The best friend Aspen is Gale, Peeta is Maxon, America sings like Katniss. There is the travelling to each cast after being selected, the interviews, etc. It’s easy to see it starting as an AU fanfiction, honestly. I didn’t mind it, but I know some people do.

Overall the story was fun, entertaining though I wasn’t expecting much from it. America was a character I had a bit of a problem connecting with, she’s supposed to be poor, yet she and her family never went hungry, and she gave her leftovers to her boyfriend who really starved himself. Once she had money of her own she started cooking all sort of pastries and meals in large amounts so she could give it, again, to Aspen. Clearly in that way her family was well enough, and yet, when she met Maxon she told him her family would starve for days and throw endless pity parties.

Besides, her family consists of her parents and five children, and they all have their own bedroom! How can they be poor? My mom and I had to share a bedroom for ten years and we weren’t poor, just a little tight on the money. Plus, America can afford dresses (they are just a little behind the fashion department, oh the injustice!) and make up. But they are poor like, super poor.

It honestly sounds a lot like first world problems, so it was difficult for me to sympathize with her when she complained so much about doing so well.

Another thing, America doesn’t believe she is pretty… because of reasons, and she gets pissed at anybody telling her she’s pretty. Why? Why is it about writing female characters who don’t think they are beautiful just so that a guy can come and be attracted to her for her low self-esteem.

Analyzing it as part of the YA investigation well, let’s see:

What is this magical word I see here?? Di-ver-si-ty? I have never heard of such thing before! This is a futuristic world after all, and the US was invaded several times by different countries so of course everybody is Caucasian!

Female characters:
Well, America doesn’t have friends in her caste… because of reasons. However when the competition starts she does talk to other women!... About the guy they were all competing to get married.

Bedechel test be dammed!

Slut shaming: Lots and lots. According to The Selection, girls who wear make-up are clearly evil sluts and backstabbing traitors. After all, it’s a certified fact that putting color on your face and taking pride in your appearance instantly turns you into a psychopath.

Originality: Yeah… there is none, but I knew that before starting reading so it’s not like I can fault the book for that. Or can I?

The two love interests were pretty much the same, personality-wise though I wouldn’t want any of them for myself. Aspen is the sort of guy who gets angry because his girlfriend makes more money than him, because he is “supposed” to support her.

And Maxon, well he’s pretty selfish when it comes to what he wants in a partner. He just thinks about his needs and what his future wife can do for him (Talk with his friends, help him when he’s stressed) but he never talks about being in an actual relationship. Things have to go both ways, he should be there for his girlfriend as much as she is for him, but he doesn’t seem to care, his wife will be there to be his trophy.

In The YA Investigation, I'll give it the lowest ranking yet, 1/10 for not fulfilling ANY of the basic requirements.

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