Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Book Description:

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.

My Thoughts:
So I went into this thinking it would be like The Bachelor. I don't like The Bachelor really at all so I wasn't expecting much. I guess I got more than I expected because I liked it enough to finish it and will likely read the whole series.

First of all, I identified with America; Not the beautiful red-headed thing or super-poor girl with little-to-no food. I identified with her falling in love young and wanting to get married. I understood her reluctance to apply for the Selection. And I completely got her being completely up-front and honest-to-the-point-of-painful. I got it. I understood her and liked her well enough. I also understood Aspen and Maxon. They made perfect sense to me and I can absolutely see people reacting in the same ways. Aspen acting as nobly as he thinks he can, even though it hurts everyone. And Maxon doing his best to make the most of his situation. Everyone in this book is really honest. Except for Celeste, whom we're not supposed to like anyway. So, the characters I understand.

My major problems lay in just about everything else. I understand dystopian fiction and ideas of alternate governments and possible future changes but this alternate future was just... stupid. I can, in no possible way, see any scenario in which people who used to be citizens of the United States of America would adopt a monarchy or a strict caste system. Especially not both together. And there are hints that modern technology still exists but it's as if no one gets to use it. Even poor people now use modern technology. Shoot, I've seen homeless guys with cell phones. The idea that it just fizzles out is dumb. There would have been major cellphone recycling and black-marketing going on, if you ask me. Same goes for whatever else these people used to have but live without in this stupid alternate future.

And why does every caste have their professions chosen for them? I'm pretty sure that's not how castes work currently in countries that have caste systems. That just doesn't make sense. Even the Chinese (who do not have a caste system but have an extremely invasive government) realize you can't force everyone to be something they're not; They screen children from toddler-hood to see what they're good at and then train them up to be amazing at whatever it is they do. If a person is good at soccer but can't play it because he's in the art-producing caste then who is playing soccer? Even with training some people just aren't that great at sports. I bet watching their professional sports teams is equivalent to watching high school sports. Which is a bad thing. In general, high school sports are painful to watch. Why would a large group of people ever buy into following a social system such as this? I don't get it. And who would think that a set-up like this would be good for anyone? I realize that there are leaders who have thought that social systems such as this are a good idea but past experience definitely suggests otherwise. In this future world why does the current leader not know of these failed past experiences? You would think that with all the turmoil in his country that he'd understand something wasn't working.

And is everyone mono-ethnic? I got the impression that everyone was white. Once again all the white people take over and kill off every other ethnicity? Is that what happened? Why is it always white people? And why do so many people feel it necessary to go the Hitler route? I don't understand.

So overall, the story was entertaining. I want to know how this will end (although I've got a pretty good idea) so I'll probably read the rest of the series. And if I pretend the story is set in a different place that actually make sense then I can read this book without any major qualms. Because the setting and political background on this book are so far out of my believability range that I don't even know how the author will explain any of my doubts away.

Sexual Content: moderate (lots of kissing and characters that want to do more but don't)
Language: mild
Drugs/Alcohol: mild (some champagne and social-situation drinking)
Violence: mild (mention of distant violence, though no real scenes of it)

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