Title: The Selection
Author: Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24th 2012
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.
Ok so I know that this book has been out for a year now, and while Rachel had already read it (and told me it ended with her wanting more), I was hesitate to start it. So as the release date for the second book drew nearer. I knew it was time to take it down from my Kindle bookcase, dust it off (hehe), and start reading it.
And from page 1 I was hooked!!!
I spent the rest of the night completely enwrapped in the story. It drew me into this completely different world, where you just have to keep reading to fully understand what is happening.
America Singer is a Five??? Don’t understand? Well let me try to explain it to you.
In the future after the Forth World War, the United States of America has fallen and a new country has risen to take its place. Ilea, is a young country which uses castes to divide their citizens. The highest caste (the Ones) consists of the Royal Family, while the lowest (the Eights) are the homeless, the dirt under your shoe. The castes were originally decided by how rich you (or your ancestors) were when Ilea rose. The Ones and Twos are given good educations leading them to good jobs and become respectable members of the community. As the castes decrease, so does everything else; their value of education, their jobs, their income. However, not all is lost. Young men who are drafted into the military become automatic Twos; they can end up fighting in the front lines at war or stationed as guards for the royal family. If you are chosen for the Selection (more on that in a minute), and are a lower caste you, and your family, are made a Three. Each caste has jobs which are specific to them, usually determined by their wealth.
Let me try to explain it a little better.
Ones – The Ones are made up of the Royal family and any other religious figure.
Twos – Twos are mostly famous people, movie stars, athletes, singers, models and military men
Threes – Threes are the brains, the teachers, inventors, authors, and any girl in the Selection who was from a lower caste
Fours – The Fours are made up of the shop keepers and farmers and also work in the factories.
Fives – If you are a Five you are an Artist. Whether it be a painter, singer, musician, sculptor etc.
Sixes – A Six is a domestic. They work as maids, servants, secretaries, cleaners, launders, pretty much anything involving housework.
Sevens – The sevens are the manual labourers. They are the builders, construction workers, truck drivers, garbage collectors, and maintenance workers.
Eights – and then there are the Eights. They are the nobodies. People who have fallen from grace, ex-convicts, orphans and people abandoned with no way to prove their caste.
And don’t think that those occupations are by choice either. If you are born into a caste you find a job in that caste, whether you are good at it or not. End of story! You would think that the story is set in the past instead of the future with some of the other aspects of daily life. Only women are able to marry above them into a higher caste, sex before marriage is a criminal offense and will land you in jail, and you are only able to have birth control if you can afford it.
So with most of the country poor and with no birth control and no money the poor just keep multiplying. More children means more mouths to feed, but eventually more people to bring in money for the family. Hmmm…
So anyway the politics is quite complicated. Let’s get back to the actual story.
America Singer is a Five. She has been secretly in a relationship with a family friend’s son Aspen for two years. Why is it such a secret? Well Aspen is a Six. It’s a big No No. The paper work alone in marrying below your caste is enough to put anyone off, not to mention that as soon as she marries, America will be seen as a Six, demoted a caste and forced to live and work as a Six, a servant. But as love prevails America gives her heart to Aspen promising she will love him forever no matter what.
This is where the Selection comes into play. The Royal Family have two ways of marrying off their children. A girl is married to a male ally in order to strengthen bonds with other countries, while a boy is offered a selection of ‘true daughters of Ilea’. The Selection is a televised contest in which single girls aged between sixteen and twenty apply to be chosen. One girl from each of the 35 provinces is selected at random to compete for the heart of Prince Maxon. Think The Bachelor; they move to the palace, are given makeovers, taken on group and individual dates, then slowly are eliminated until all but one remain. The Prince’s ‘one true love’ and the future Queen of Ilea.
When America receives her letter she isn’t impressed. Happy with the life she has decide on, she ignores her mother’s wishes and refuses to apply. It’s Aspen, who is constantly questioning condemning America to life as a Six, who convinces her to apply. Stating that he simply couldn’t live with himself always wondering ‘what if?’. This, and a helpful bribe from her mother, and America reluctantly agrees, if only in the hopes that it will help her family.
Well surprise, surprise America is selected. We didn’t see that one coming. Well America didn’t, and suddenly Aspen is breakings her heart and she is on her way to the palace to compete for a guy she has never even met. Deciding in order to help her move on, space is exactly what she needs, and with her family (now Threes) being well compensated, America decides to fight to stay in the competition as long as she can to help provide for her family.
I really enjoyed reading the book through America’s eyes. She is a sweet and caring girl who is so confused about her feelings and has no one to talk to. She is just trying to do the right thing for her family and move on with her life. She is thrown into a situation she never even dreamed of, and has gone from a nothing to a royal over night. She is awkward and clumsy and doesn’t always say the right things, but she is humble and she has her heart in the right place. Although sometimes she can be so infuriating, I found myself yelling at her in my head. Can she seriously not see that way that Maxon looks at her?
Maxon is amazing. I completely fell in love with him. He is instantly drawn to America and her refreshing take on his world. Having never lived outside the palace walls, Maxon’s life has been very sheltered and privileged. He is interested in America’s views and keen to understand how the country, he will one day run, is perceived through the eyes of the lower castes. Their instant chemistry is electric, and America opens up about her life and her secrets. But with 34 other girls vying for Maxon’s attention, and America still trying to deal with a secret broken heart will they ever be on the same page?
This is one of those Team Aspen vs Team Maxon type of books. You are either rooting for Aspen or rooting for Maxon. While both have their good and their bad, the suspense keeps you turning page after page until the very early hours of the morning. But don’t expect to get your answer in this book. After all it is a trilogy and what would make us all keep reading?
I am a Team Maxon myself, while Aspen seems to be a very good guy, always thinking of his family, he had his chance with America and he didn’t take it. I’m not one for second chances when there is a first chance right in front of you.
Anyway an excellent books and well worth the puffy eyes I had the next day. The second in the series was equally as good, but that is another review for another day!!!
And for those of you don’t already know, the CW (the network that brought us Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Hart of Dixie and many more) have picked up the book and will turn it into a TV series.
While Aimee Teegarden was set to play American apparently that is not the case anymore, which is a little upsetting, I think she would have done it well. The lead will now go to Yael Grobglas.
Who? I hear you ask. I have absolutely no idea. I think that she is a newcomer, let’s just hope she will do the part justice.
So how will they be turning this book into an entire TV series? Well I’m interested to find out. Obviously we will get to see a little more from other characters in the story as the book is first person narration, there will have to be a little more drama in the completion (maybe America will have to leave her room and the company of her maids a little more), some of the other girls completing may be made into sub characters, we may see Maxon and what he does during the day or while he is on dates with the other girls, we might get to see a little more into the background of the country, not to mention they will properly focus a lot on the dresses, hair and make-up of becoming a princess.
Well I guess that we will have to wait and see.