THE SELECTION (The Selection #1)Kiera Cass
Available April 24th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)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.
MY THOUGHTSSweet with just a hint of an edge, The Selection is a puzzle that initially feels familiar, the individual pieces all ones we’ve seen before in other stories, but yet Ms. Cass manages to guide our hands through a beautifully and artfully executed assembly where the familiarity quickly fades to a non-issue in the face a truly enjoyable tale. While there is certainly a level of predictability stemming from the presence of the aforementioned easily recognizable plot elements, Ms. Cass quickly reminds us why such elements are so popular, drawing us swiftly into America’s tale when a forbidden love is immediately put to the test as circumstance, opportunity, and pride force the taking of irreversible first steps toward a new fate.
America is a girl we start out seeing in the muted earth tones representative of her level Five status–someone cute and seemingly typical who entertains us without shocking us into forming an instant and visceral connection to her. However, her relationship with Aspen in the wake of her selection slowly begins to imbue our protagonist with different hues, her ordinariness replaced with streaks of bright color as pain and loss etch themselves across her features. Those colors continue to bleed and spread as she navigates the world of the Selected, new facets of her personality revealed with every page until she becomes a swirling mass of color and emotion that catches our eye and holds it, making us wonder how she could have possibly slipped under our radar in the very beginning.
The romantic relationships are crafted with a great deal of care, our loyalty and affection genuinely torn between our short memory of Aspen and the possibilities represented by Prince Maxon, and it's nothing short of entertaining to sit back and wonder how things will progress. Though we spend the least amount of time with Aspen, America’s feelings for him resonate with us immediately, and while we may not be as moved by him as she is given the brevity of our exposure to him, we can’t deny the strength of their connection even as Maxon slowly begins to heal the wounds Aspen left behind, helping America to find the beauty in those puckered emotional scars she thought would keep her from discovering anything real in the gilded cage of The Selection.
Things with Maxon start with an uneasy friendship and progress ever-so slowly into something more, leaving us with a tentative smile on our faces as we try to block out the anxiety over the developments we know are inevitably coming, understanding with 100% certainty that we have absolutely no idea how we’re going to feel when they come to pass. While our delicious confusion concerning the two young men in America’s life secures our emotional involvement in their story, it is her decision in the concluding pages (beware of the abrupt ending) of this first installment that ensures we will pick up the next book without fail, her handling of the general upheaval of her life showing us just how colorful she’s truly become, and her radiance a truly stunning thing to be left with as we close the back cover and being the tortuous wait for book two.
*I will say I think this book is going to be one that sparks a wide variety of differing opinions, but I entered into it just wanting a fun read, and America's story provided exactly that*