Let me start by saying I enjoyed The Selection. That is a solid three star rating.
But do not go into it thinking that this book is The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. When I read that I had an image in my head of a dystopian world where women are picked to fight to the death and the last one standing gets to marry the prince. Or something. It took me about 100 pages to get that idea out of my head and adjust to the actual story of the book (which is basically The Bachelor).
Spoiler alert: no one dies in this book. I think it gets compared to The Hunger Games because it’s a dystopian novel? (Or possibly just because everything is being compared to The Hunger Games these days.) I’m not really clear on why the world is a dystopia. For me that was the weakest part of the story. Basically there are castes in society and there are a few factions of people who are really against the new government… It is obvious that Cass is building towards something more with this book and maybe the dystopic elements will run rampant in those books, but in The Selection, it is peripheral to the story.
Also, this story feels like a long introduction to the next novel. For me it doesn’t work as a stand alone story. I feel invested now though, so I will probably keep reading the series.
I thought The Selection was well written. Cass definitely has a firmer grasp on the concept of “show, don’t tell” than most young authors (and some not-so-young authors) I’ve read recently. The story wasn’t so interesting to me. If Alison D and I weren’t reading it for the blog, I would never have picked up this book. But I’m not sorry I read it.
I liked the main character America. While the story is less compelling and less interesting than The Hunger Games, I found myself much less annoyed with America’s voice than with Katniss’s. America is not omnipotent. She is too observant sometimes – the foreshadowing is rather heavy handed at points – but doesn’t explain every single action of every single other character all the time. And while she is plagued with self-doubt as these teenaged-girl first-person narrators so often are, I rarely found myself wanting to shout at her for her stupidity.
That said, the secondary characters fell flat for me. Marlee is nice. Celeste is a bitch. The others are interchangeable and have no distinguishing characteristics. I remember Tiny Lee best and, if I recall correctly, she doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in the entire novel.
All in all, The Selection is a little bit of a marshmallow book – light, fluffy, sweet, little substance – that would make a good beach read.