Age Group: Young Adult
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.
This book was actually pretty good. I had read some reviews for it beforehand, and they were all pretty mixed, so I started the book fairly wary. I'm glad I can say that I did enjoy it (though there were a couple times America got on my nerves and Aspen always made me want to hurt small children.... but more on that in a sec). And the ending had me cheering. So that's always good.
So, America's family lives in this place called Illea (with the funny thing over the e, but I can't figure out how to do that), and her mom's kinda controlling, but nice, and her dad is great and treats her like she's a princess. Then she's got 2 younger siblings at home with her, also. Gerad (7) and May (13?), who are both pretty adorable. They are fives and as such they only have certain privileges, and don't have much money. So, they enter America into this thing called The Selection, in which 35 girls are chosen to compete to be the prince's wife (it sounds weird... because it is. it is very weird). So, yeah, the Selection is the majority of the book. She's picked and doesn't think she's pretty, makes some friends... etc. It's definitely interesting, and I kind of love the game show approach to finding the prince a future princess. However, I found myself wishing the other girls were a little more cutthroat, and one was, I guess, but I don't feel as though enough detail was put into that aspect of the story.
Ah, America. She was actually incredibly annoying for the first 100ish pages of the book, but then I started liking her more, and didn't want to rip her pretty, red hair from her head. She spends way too much time thinking about how she is really "plain" and isn't anything special. WHY CAN'T SHE LIKE HERSELF? I want a YA heroine who isn't cocky, but doesn't spend a ton of time thinking "Oh, woe is me, I'm not pretty, boo hoo, nobody look at me, wah" it gets very annoying after a while. Other than that though, she was pretty sweet, and started to be more confident and stand up for herself as the book neared the end. I really, really liked her by the very end of the book, so that's bonus points for her.
Now for the two "love interests." First up: Aspen. And Oh my goodness, did I want to remove every page in the book that he was in. Good gravy, he was annoying! He's all "Oh, I love you America" and then he gets all weird about the caste system (he is a caste lower than America) and flips out. He was such a pansy and needed to stand up for himself. And then he freaking pushed her to sign up for the Selection. I mean, what love-of-America's-life decides to push her to try and get with another guy? Geez. If I talk anymore, I may spoiler things, so I'll stop about him. Next up: Maxon. Okay, Maxon was adorable. Like, he was hot and strong and cocky, but not so much that it would make me dislike him (though those are typically things I like). He's quirky and shy, and just really cute. So, Team Maxon up in here.
Lemme just say that that is one amazing cover. Really.
So, this book was interesting, and I really liked Prince Maxon. I'll give it 4 'staches because I hated Aspen and wished there was a little less self deprecating from America.