Great Idea, but not the best characters
The Selection is a young adult fiction book. The main character America now lives in post-world-war-three America, Illéa, which was named after its founder, Gregory Illéa. America is a Five, which means she is of the fifth status in Illéa’s caste system. Currently 17, she is eligible to be a girl in the Selection, a televised competition where the Prince, Maxon, has to choose a wife from 35 contestants picked ‘randomly’ from each state. The winner and her family all become Ones, the highest caste. America is picked to become her state’s Selected. This would be amazing if not for the fact that she is in love with her next-door neighbor Aspen, a Six. Sadly, she is shipped away to the palace. When encountering Maxon by accident in the royal gardens, she accuses him of being shallow and playing around with the women. She realises, though, that he is truly trying to find love. America makes it clear to him that she does not intend to fall in love with him, but they strike a trade in which he lets her stay (because her family needs the weekly allowance and she cannot bear seeing Aspen again) so that she would be his confidant, his friend he could talk to. As the Selection progresses, America and the Prince become quite close, to the point where he begins to develop feelings for her. He confesses and although America is still unsure of Maxon, she agrees that it is not impossible for them to be together. The book ends with the Prince sending away all but 6 of the Selected - including America, of course, making them the Elite.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The main idea could seem slightly cliché, but although the romance was not the most well written, the plot hooks you, making you so invested in it that you just can’t put it down. The idea of a prince choosing you out of 35 contestants is like a Cinderella story and as a reader, I just cannot wait to watch it all unfold. The main character tries to always be herself even if it means insulting the Prince along the way.
Sadly, I do not think that the characterisation was that good. For one, America is meant to be a relatable character who came from next to nothing, but instead, she comes across as slightly self-absorbed when she’s clearly supposed to be the opposite of that. For example, although she is supposed to not care about the castes, she says “In my mind, they were all Sixes.” about her maids. Additionally, for someone who is ‘relatable’, she does seem a little too perfect, as she is able to speak three languages, play multiple instruments and is constantly called pretty. Secondly, Maxon, the Prince, is extremely awkward and slightly creepy, for example, he says, "You [the Selected girls] are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest." He also says, "I hope to find happiness, too. To find a woman that all of Illea can love, someone to be my companion and to help entertain the leaders of other nations. Someone who will befriend my friends and be my confidante. I'm ready to find my wife." This seems extremely conceited because he does not mention whatsoever that he will provide for his wife and befriend her friends and be her confidante.
Despite the problems I encountered with the characterisation, I think that this is a story with a splendid plot. Overall, I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars ( if there was that option) and definitely recommend you to read it.