Rating: 4 stars
Buy the Book: Amazon
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 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."
Review: Although this book has been out for a couple of years, and although I have many friends who have already read it, I went into this book knowing almost nothing about it. About two chapters in, I predicted that this book was going to be a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. I was partially right. Really, this book was a cross of about a dozen different books. Really, I kept getting deja vu from other YA novels, in addition to The Bachelor. Here are some the parallels I found:
- The Bachelor: This one is the most obvious. 35 girls competing for one man, who are also not allowed to date anyone else even though their "boyfriend" is dating dozens of other people at once? CHECK.
- The Hunger Games: Girl unwillingly enters a competition and is surprised to find she's good at it. (The Selection mercifully has far fewer deaths, though.) Both feature a Ceaser Flickerman type character as well.
- Throne of Glass: Love triangle between the girl, the prince, and the soldier.
- Princess Academy: Group of girls train together to become the next princess, though none of them know which the prince will pick as his bride.
- Beauty Queens: Group of girls get stuck together and, rather than become enemies, become friends. (Mostly.)
- Wither: Girls get prettied up to be presented to The Guy, are supposed to act like they love him, regardless of whether they really do or not.
- Matched: Love triangle, undercover rebellion attacking The Authorities, of whom the protagonist knows very little.
- Divergent: Caste system firmly in place - the plentiful Eights are totally the Factionless.
So, obviously there was a reason I kept thinking, "I think I've read this before..." I had. In about a dozen other books. But you know what? I liked those books, and I liked this book, too.
I just finished talking about how love stories are more a matter of characterization than plot. This is another good example of that. There is a plot outside of Who The Girl Will End Up With, but it's not that important. (Yet. I suspect it will get bigger in the subsequent novels.) So there was some action, but not that much. That was okay, though. I didn't read for the action. I read because I liked Mer, and because I wanted to know what would happen. I liked how grounded and forthcoming she was, and cared about many of the side characters as well. Reading this book kind of gave me a peek into what a Behind-the-Scenes episode of The Bachelor would be like, how some people can be completely different in front of the camera, and how what you see isn't necessarily what's real.
So while this book won't win any awards for originality, I still really liked it and am looking forward to continuing the series.
Lastly, three cheers for the girl in the ball gown on the cover ACTUALLY HAVING SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE STORY. Amazing.