I read the most delightful book the other day — one that completely caught me off guard with how ridiculously cute it was. When I attended the RT 2012 convention back in April, I received an ARC of The Selection and even got it autographed by the author (joy!). This book in particular had been a freebie gift from a thirteen-year-old who was kind enough to give it to me and my sister on Teen Day. Yes, I’m 23 and I made a 13-year-old friend. That’s the magic of being a YA book fan. I had more to discuss with her than someone my own age! Anyway, I held off on reading The Selection for a long time, waiting to go through a list of other books before turning my attention to this little package of joy. Now the reason I was so surprised at how wonderfully The Selection turned out was because, typically, before I decide to spend money on a book, I check the ratings on Goodreads to determine if the book is…well…worth it. That is: Is it rated over a 4.0? I do this because I’ve read plenty of books in the past that have left me utterly disappointed and even those books were rated high. However, I think this book might have just tossed out that process of elimination for me. The Selection by Kiera Cass was an addicting read—a romantic story that had me captured from the moment I turned to the first page.
The Selection Summary
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 the palace and compete for the heart of the 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.
The Selection by Kiera Cass was literally fluff on a silver platter. It was that adorable and sweet. I love this book for many reasons, but the main reason — the most important reason — was how this book managed to evoke all those giddy little feelings I felt when I read stories like Ella Enchanted years ago and even those fictionpress romance stories back when I was a hopeless romantic teenager. A story with all things magical, light and fun. It was nice to just sit back and read a story for those elements and truly enjoy a book purely for its romance and fluff, especially since reading so many books these past few months have left me accustomed to the typical formula used in a YA fantasy or paranormal novel. But it wasn’t the kind of fluff where it was all cheesy and uninteresting — it was exciting.There was plenty of room for jealousy and despair. Things that I like when I read a good YA novel.
America Singer was a great main character. There’s something about her that makes me smile, and though she didn’t win my heart right away, I was cheering for her by the end of the book. Perhaps, it was her love towards Aspen or honesty towards Prince Maxon, but I liked her. I like the way she thinks, I like the way she looks and I like the way her heart was broken in the first few chapters. First loves are always so romantic and I couldn’t help but smile when America got her picture taken thinking of Aspen proposing. It was cute.
Now, I can understand why some people might not like her. She’s beautiful, smart and talented…plus, two incredibly charming men are fighting for her. Who wouldn’t hate her? She’s no doubt a Mary Sue. But this is where I say that Kiera Cass took something cliché and predictable and turned it into a piece of work. Yes, it was predictable…but how can you say it was not enjoyable? I still read it and I still loved it thoroughly. And even though America was too perfect for her own good, I was addicted to her story and the budding romances that surrounded her.
It was like coffee and candy for me. Addicting.
As for her love interests, I’ve been reading other reviews to see how people feel about Maxon and Aspen and I’m completely shocked at some of the mean things people have to say about Aspen. I am a huge Aspen fan because he is so very selfless…and rugged and chiseled in every single way. Believe it or not, he’s actually a really good guy. He wants to take care of his family and the people he loves…even though he’s barely scraping by himself. What Aspen does for America, I believe, is a huge sacrifice on his part. Maybe he broke her heart, but he broke her heart for the right reasons and with good intentions. He wanted the best for the girl he loved and knew he wouldn’t be able to give her what she needed to have a good life. A life where she wasn’t starving every day. Sure, they were in love — a very pure and true love for teenagers — and maybe love might save the day in most books…but let’s face it: It would have been hard for them. We could say that he should have fought harder for her or should have found another way to make it work between them — and he probably should have — but it doesn’t change reality.
But America is young and naive, and unlike her significant other, couldn’t imagine the perils of marrying a man who could hardly provide for himself — let alone provide for another life. Aspen has every right to worry. He loved America and knew that if she had a chance of living a better life, he would give her that chance. Even if that meant giving her up. That’s not selfish…that’s selfless. And I applaud him for it because I could see that he really did love her and letting her go wasn’t easy. I was reeling when he called out after her while she was on the stage. Reeling.
That said, I feel bad for Aspen. He’s poor but a good guy. On top of being incredibly handsome, he works hard. Really hard. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s going to lose the girl he loves to a prince.
Which is exactly where I see this story heading, because c’mon…Prince Maxon makes one hell of a competition. He is simply charming and surprisingly it’s sort of cute on him. His innocence sort of turns me off at times, but still…the boy makes me smile. And I can see what America sees in him too. He’s also a good guy except he actually has the means to put it to good use. He’s the perfect prince for the Selection because he’s not a jerk. Which makes the jealousy from America sort of fun to read, even though it’s obvious from the start that Maxon likes America. I’m surprised Cass didn’t make him more arrogant, which seems to be the trend when it comes to love triangles nowadays. It was just so interesting to watch the events unfold. I was giggling with joy when I read the breakfast scene between America and Maxon. So yes, I’m also a Maxon fan and I truly think he makes a good love interest. Though he did seem sort of stiff at first, I eventually warmed up to him. And now I wish I had my own Prince Maxon to buy me jeans and take me on walks.
However, if America ends up choosing Prince Maxon over Aspen, it will be the cruelest thing Cass does despite the fact that everyone seems to be a Maxon fan. In a case like this, there’s only one thing that could happen: Aspen will have to die. Why? Because it can’t get any worse than being a poor but genuinely good guy and still lose your girl to a prince. How unfair is that? And who knows…maybe Cass has already started down that road. At least that’s the sense I get based off where we are left at the end of book one. It’s either that or Cass has some serious persuading to do when it comes to making me hate Aspen with passion — because I’m far from it and even I think that Aspen deserves some type of happily ever after.
As for the plot, though thoroughly enjoyable…it was very predictable. There were also a few parts that I thought could have used some work. The ending, for one, seemed very rushed and Aspen seemed very out of character by then. I would have loved more tension between America, Maxon and Aspen near the end and not so much of the forgiveness that America showed Aspen. Also, the rebel attacks seemed very abrupt and random. It needed just a little bit more fodder to make it more relevant to the story. But I loved the whole bachelor thing. I loved the reasons why Maxon chose the final girls and I loved how time passed before America started falling for him. Friendship to love is kind of cool…Definitely read this book if you’re into something light hearted and romantic. It won’t disappoint!
Theme Music: Indecent Proposal – Main Theme by John Barry
*Photo: Photo credit to Nick Bartoletti as seen on http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbartoletti/3216396704/