If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you might know that I’ve been in Mexico for the past week (conjuring up MUCHO new content to post soon). Since I’ve been on real vacation (not just vacation MODE, haaaa) – what better time to indulge in some guilty pleasures? Which brings me to The Selection.
I think I spotted this book for the first time in a bookstore about a year ago and the whimsical nerd in me was immediately drawn to the princess-y, YA-screaming cover. You may have heard that we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing if the thing you are judging is pretty and frilly and intrigues you to no end. It’s been on my TBR list ever since and in honor of my vacay, I thought I’d give myself a little break from life (and from Dragonfly in Amber) and see what all the fuss was about.
The Selection is about a dystopian society in the not-so-distant future called Illéa, whose royal prince Maxon has recently come “of age” and thus needs to find himself a wife. Instead of going the old tried-and-true route we’re all used to – some arranged marriage from birth with a rando from an allied country – Illéa has a bit of a quirky tradition when seeking its new princesses. Whenever a prince is ready to marry, the royal family holds a Selection – where “young women” (ie, teenagers – because what princess story would this be if the girl was old enough to buy beer?) of all levels of their caste-based society may simply fill out a form to enter in the running to be Maxon’s bride. From the nation-wide submission process, thirty-five girls are chosen to move to the palace, live with the royal family, and compete for Maxon’s affections and eventually the crown.
Sound familiar? Yeah. It’s The Bachelor. Meets Divergent. Meets the Hunger Games. Meets (insert other YA dystopian romance adventure title here). But that’s why it’s good. You open this book knowing exactly what you’re going to get, and Kiera Cass does not disappoint. The protagonist, aptly named America, is a lovely amalgamation of all those brave, family-loving, conflicted, selfless, tomboyish, understatedly but undeniably pretty heroines you already know and we love her for it. I mean, she prefers jeans over ball gowns, people! She only entered the competition to please her loved ones! You root for her, you want her little sister to be happy, you are intrigued by her totally unexpected burgeoning affection for Maxon. And in case you were wondering, of course there’s a love triangle. And the forbidden romance in question is with a hunky, if not quite eligible (damn those pesky castes) hometown babe named Aspen. That’s right – we have an Aspen and a Maxon competing for an America. I don’t know what I just wrote.
I’ll keep this review short and sweet – just like the book. Unshakable cynicism aside, I truly enjoyed it! Let’s face it – grammar/character/plot-wise – Dostoevsky this is not. But I knew that going into it (thanks again to my expert cover-judging). The story was very entertaining, if a bit formulaic and predictable at times. I found myself hungrily turning page after page and ordering the sequel, The Elite, before I was halfway through. It was the absolute perfect accompaniment to the serene Caribbean views and lukewarm beer of my little getaway. On that note, I truly love that you can drink on the beach in Mexico. But that’s another story for another day.