Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

I said in my speech at Longwood University last month that I still sometimes find myself daydreaming about what my life might look like when I finally find a way to use my master's in Children's Literature, so obviously I jumped at the chance to talk about a young adult novel here on Freckled Italian. My master's thesis focused a lot on the culture of being a girl (lots of Disney Princesses and quite a few viewings of Mean Girls were involved), so Young Adult novels aimed at girls are really super interesting to me.

Harper Collins sent me a copy of The Selection by Kiera Cass and at first, I was a little skeptical of it. Parts of the book reminded me a lot of The Hunger Games--it's sort of a dystopian world, people are organized into castes, and there's a sort of mysterious competition that people can be sorted into. In this case that is, of course, "the Selection," which is a competition that young women sign up for with the hope of winning a marriage proposal from the prince. Like I mentioned on Instagram, it's kind of The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, which is certainly an interesting twist.

America Singer is the protagonist and she's completely uninterested in joining the Selection, but she ends up entering because the families of each participant are paid well and taken care of, which matters a lot because the society they live in is kind of bleak and her family is constantly struggling to get by. America is in love with a guy named Aspen, who is a caste below her, but she figures her family will get paid if she's selected and then she'll be sent home early in the competition. Of course, once she gets to the palace, the prince ends up being a pretty awesome guy and they hit it off almost immediately.

This book sets up for what is actually a series, much like The Hunger Games or Twilight. And, like both of those aforementioned titles, the Young Woman In A Love Triangle plot is a major element of the story. Personally, and from a critical perspective, I'm kind of tired of the love triangle dynamic we see so often in media for young women--I just think we can be doing more with female characters--but I do have to admit how easy is is to binge-read and get swept up into that story-line.

America is portrayed as your classic nice girl, and whether you believe it or not (I didn't always), she is supposed to be carefree and uninterested in the drama and politics of competing for the crown. A lot of the competitors in the Selection are catty and mean, which is to be expected, but I was really happy to see America make some genuine friendships with the other girls in the contest. There are definitely more nice girls than mean girls in the book, which is a great step in the right direction.

Have any of you read The Selection? I definitely think I'm going to read the rest of the series, so if you've read some or all of it, let me know what you thought!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.