I recently tweeted this:
I binge book series like I binge TV.
I struggle to find my way back to reality until I’ve completed the series.
Well, that tweet was because of a book series in particular. The Selection by Kiera Cass. In the case of this review, I’m going to give a review on books 1-3 in the series as a whole, because I read them all within five days. Honestly, it was probably four, but I’ll pretend I still managed to work and live a life somewhere in there.
I’ve seen this series on the shelves of bookstores so many times. Every Sunday I attend a critique group in Barnes and Noble and the YA section is on the way to the restroom, so at least almost every Sunday for the past two years I’ve passed that book or similar ones. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that it takes 7 times of seeing something before you consider buying it. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it the 100 other times I saw the book. But there are other factors, like my growing list of pending book reviews for my blog, and all the other YA books I should read, and work, and etc. etc. Also, maybe the fact that I know when I like a book, I don’t come up for air until I’ve finished it.
Okay, and if we want to be perfectly honest with each other, the only reason it didn’t take me three days to read the three Selection books (like it did one summer reading the first three Harry Potter’s) is because I had to wait a day for Amazon to ship the final book. Dreadful, right?
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.
I’ve read all the available books in The Selection series, and I am hooked. I loved them. They were fast paced, well-written, and engaging reads.
There are a few reasons for this:
- The main character, America. And the other characters, especially the girls in the Selection.
America is a strong narrator to tell this story. The writing is so much of this story, but that’s also because Kiera Cass wrote a strong first person POV for America. America was well-defined; she was stubborn and independent, she knew what she wanted (until she was conflicted which made for a good story), she was flawed, impulsive, and she grew over time.
Also, the other characters were fun as well. Each character in this story had a defined goal and we could see them trying to obtain it, and we saw if they failed or succeeded. The other girls who were in The Selection, trying to win the prince’s heart, were all a joy to watch. The interactions felt real, catty, friendly, and ridiculous. It was a royal version of bachelor, with an entire country and a prince at stake.
- The setting.
First, this is set in the future, in a sort of dystopia similar to The Hunger Games in which our protagonist lives in a “caste system” meaning that people are categorized at birth of which caste they will be. 1-8. 8 is the lowest. 8 means homeless. 1 means life is made. This system also means that your occupation is decided by which caste you are in. So America is a 5 and these are people who are entertainers – painters, singers, musicians. The King and Queen, for example, are a 1. Obviously.
Second, we get to see the life of a 5, like we see Katniss in district 12, and then soon the story moves to the Palace in Angeles (I have to assume this is old world Los Angeles, which I love because I automatically love all stories that take place in LA). And the palace is gorgeous and it’s like when Katniss experiences life in the Capitol. It’s full of color and gems.
- Love triangles.
I realize some folks are not a fan of love triangles. But I love them. The Vampire Diaries is my favorite TV show, so… I love reading about being torn between not just one guy or the other, but the LIFE with one guy versus the other. Love triangles are not about who is good for her or who the reader likes more. It’s about the guy that supports the heroine, but also challenges her. He is the one that pushes her to be the best version of herself. And he believes in her. And he doesn’t stand in the way of her ‘shine’. They shine together. Although both guys can be good choices, one is always more right than the other, but it can take a long time and a lot of personal growth to find out.
And finally, the other reason I love this series: It’s like a dystopian Bachelor where the contestants have real reasons for being there and real feelings are involved. And they are competing to be the future Queen. And it’s all with the weight of the country involved as well. And it’s dangerous sometimes too.
Although I really enjoyed this series and I am so glad I found a new author I like, I did feel that there were times the readers were cut short of experiencing something great. There was danger and threat in this series, but there were enough times that something really intense could have happened and I was excited to take that turn with the character, but then it was all cleaned up and we were moving on. I was still happy to roll with the story, but it would have brought new depths to the book and character(s) had the author explored some more difficult choices.
There were also many times I predicted what was going to happen in the story. I predicted practically everything, but maybe that’s the editor in me knowing when one minor detail comes up it MUST be used later. And, the author DID use it, so major props to her for following through. However, because I quickly learned this author was talented and knew to never insert a detail that isn’t used, I was able to guess things that would happen because I knew it HAD to come up again. I also read a lot of romance and YA, so there’s that too. The thing is, even though I predicted a lot, I never tired of the story. I was happy to follow the heroine as she went through it. I was happy to read the parts I predicted because it was engaging and well-written.
Have you read this series, or any books by Kiera Cass? What are your thoughts?
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