A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Selection is dystopian romance that's a mash-up of Cinderella and The Bachelor, as 35 girls, including the main character, named America, enter a televised competition to marry a prince. Although set in a futuristic United States, The Selection is fairly tame as far as dystopian stories go. The romance leads only to flirting and kissing, and America is a positive role model, a respectful daughter, and a level-headed heroine. America and her fellow competitors express body and self-esteem issues. The only actual violence is a rebel attack on the palace, but the scenes are brief and not very frightening. An attempted rape of a servant by a rebel intruder is discussed but not shown.
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What's the story?
A hundred years in the future, in the country of Illea (the former United States), girls between the ages of 16 and 20 are chosen through a selection process to marry Prince Maxon Schreave, who's coming of age. The participants are housed at the royal palace and showcased on a TV program. \"The Selection\" is held so princes can marry \"women of the people to keep up the morale of our sometimes-volatile nation.\" Despite loving another boy outside her caste, America Singer enters the competition and is selected to be one of the participants. She soon discovers that Prince Maxon isn't unlikable and snotty, as she assumed him to be, but rather an honorable young man with good intentions.
Is it any good?
Filled with romance and political intrigue, the book is weak in its creation of a dystopian world, but the story's strength lies with protagonist America and her relationships. Throughout the novel, America discovers that she might be fit for the crown, and so does Maxon, who's looking more for an ally and friend than a trophy wife.
That said, while Maxon is charismatic, his characterization often feels wooden and unrealistic. The romance between America and Aspen is more believable. America must decide which of the two boys really has her best interest at heart, and it's a tough decision.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of dystopian novels, reality dating shows, and why teens and young women are drawn to them. Why do shows like The Bachelor tend to focus on sex, scandal, and fighting among the contestants? Are these shows unhealthy? Do they degrade women and men?
What messages does the book send about arranged marriages, especially at such a young age?
America's mother is adamant that she enter "The Selection." What do you think about parents who want to live through their children? Or who choose their child's destiny for the good of the family?
Why are so many YA books, like The Hunger Games, optioned for television and movies? Does it make you more or less interested in reading the book if you know there's another media tie-in?
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