Disclaimer : I had no intention of reading this book. I don’t tolerated bullying. However, I didn’t buy this book. My friends did, in effort to get me to stop reading fiction during finals. Needless to say, it worked. I will try to stick to my review policy (reviewing the context of the book alone), but I included this disclaimer just so that everyone knows I’m aware of the situation and that it does not make me a happy person.
General Summary: America Singer (That name, I know) is in love with a boy named Aspen. Except they’re forbidden to be together because Aspen is in a lower caste than her and, well, women don’t marry down. However, all America’ s love woes are resolved when she decides to participate in The Selection (i.e. think Bachelor+Princes Diaries+Twilight+Hunger Games) and she has the opportunity to well marry a prince. Of course, America is still pining over Aspen, but she can’t help but think that maybe Prince Maxon isn’t that bad as the competition continues.
Review: It was a struggle for me to finish this book. I didn’t like it. The only reason I read the whole thing is because there has been lots of controversy about finishing this particular book. I was not impressed. Not one bit. Nothing really seemed to happen here. And the dystopia element just seemed forced. It almost seemed like to me, that the book merely started out as some teenage bachelor competition and the author’s editor or agent told her to add the dystopia element in there for selling purposes. I know that sounds awful, but the world building is really obsolete in the book.
Also, I really, really, hated the caste system. I get that it’s a dystopia and that unjust societies are a part of dystopia, but I hated the way women were objectified in the book. Sexism just reeked out of the book and seemed okay. Condoned. As I’ll mention in my worst feature section of the review, I really hated the remarks concerning virginity.
Now let’s get to characters. Like the plot: bland. I didn’t like America. She seemed nice enough if a tad bit self righteous, but she was bland. Yeah, I get that she sings and that she loves Aspen but she needed….
Best Feature: Pretty dresses. There are lots and lots of pretty fashion descriptions in this book. It would honestly make a great What Would ___ Wear entry.
Worst Feature: Sexism: This book is just riddled with sexism and superficialness. From the very beginning we are told how naturally pretty America is even though she doesn’t believe it. Look, it’s okay to have a pretty heroine, but I don’t need it smacked in my face every ten pages or so. It also doesn’t help that the society that Cass creates is a slap in the face to the women’s movement. Let me count how many sexist moments there in the book: 1) Aspen’s attitude towards America being the provider (i.e. he breaks up with her), 2) Men being able to marry down a class but not women, 3) The whole freaking virginity thing. Yes, Cass goes there. She decides to have women punished for not keeping their pants on. Look, I get that this is a dystopia. But this really rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been reading asylum cases for Immigration law that involve girls who are hurt in deplorable ways because of this, but I really wish Kiera wouldn’t have gone there. It’s icky and honestly it’s alienating a huge part of her audience. There are other sexism issues within the book that I could touch upon. Take for instance slut slamming. The character, Celeste, was created entirely for this purpose. And we are constantly told how fake she is while America is this real, natural beauty……..
Appropriateness: Nothing too profane is seen in this book. Unless you look at the values it preaches. The sexism in here had me throwing down the book constantly. There is also some violence that is talked about in the book as well, but once again nothing too graphic though there is talk about an attempted rape.
Blockbuster Worthy: Not in my opinion. Even though this book has been optioned and is a pilot for the CW. I mean, how many seasons can they really expect this thing to last? Shouldn’t they know that the whole Bachelor concept is old and stale by now? And how is this idea going to last possibly eight plus years. I mean, Prince Maxon can’t drag out his decision for eight years can he?
Update: It appears that the CW decided not to pick up The Selection after all. Perhaps TV executives are not troglodytes after all.
Overall Rating: Two out of ten ballgowns. Or if we’re going to use the caste system in Cass’s world this book is so an eight. I think a younger age ground might like it more than older readers though. However, I would not give a younger reader this book because I do not like the way it portrays women.