Annotation: For sixteen-year-old America Singer, the Selection is the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to escape her life of just making ends meet, help her family, and compete to become the wife of Prince Maxon. There is just one problem, however: America is already in love.Personal thoughts: As a huge fan of both The Hunger Games and The Bachelor, this book was right up my alley. Although I found it to be kind of predictable and definitely had some déjà vu throughout, I ended up enjoying the novel. It’s got the right amount of love, dystopia, conflict, and cattiness. I also think America is a very well-written and likable character. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series, and, although I am well above the age of its target demographic, will likely be watching the TV show as well.
Plot summary: 300 years in the future, what was once the United States is now the country of Illéa, a monarchy where the population is divided into castes that determine social status, employment, and prosperity. Sixteen-year-old America Singer and her family are fives, one step above the servant caste, struggling to make ends meet using their artistic and musical skills. Everything changes, however, when a letter arrives from the royal palace announcing the Selection: a competition where girls from all castes are invited to enter for a chance to be one of the 35 chosen to compete for the heart of Prince Maxon and become the next Queen of Illéa. For the Selected, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. Anyone who is chosen to compete, whether they win or not, is automatically becomes a three, and their families are compensated weekly for their participation in the process. America’s family urges her to sign up, convinced that her beauty, intelligence and talent will earn her a spot as one of the Selected. Although she wants nothing more than to change her family’s status, one major problem looms for America: she is already deeply in love with Aspen, a childhood friend and six who she would never be allowed to marry. How will America choose between an opportunity to help her family and her love for Aspen?Review: One of the most anticipated books of 2012 and already in production as a television show on the CW, The Selection has all the makings of a popular series for tween and teen girls: a likable heroine, a forbidden romance, a love triangle, a competition and, of course, a dystopian setting. Although it has received mixed reviews, reading the novel makes it is easy to see why Kiera Cass’ new novel has already hit the ground running in the popularity department. A cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor, the concept of the story holds a lot of appeal. Where the novel seems to fall short, however, is in originality. Several scenes in the book bear a very close resemblance to the experiences of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: the downtrodden but intelligent girl struggling to support her family, the love triangle between the old family friend and the new guy, the wealth of the royal family versus the oppression of the citizens. Readers will have to be completely unfamiliar with Suzanne Collins’ trilogy to not pick up on these obvious similarities. Fans of The Bachelor will also notice some overlap between events in the book and common occurrences on the long-running TV show: girls longing for that one-on-one time, the sexy bad girl who steals the Prince’s attentions whenever she can, the rose-ceremony-like dismissals. In essence, The Selection is basically these two iconic pieces of pop-culture combined. Fortunately, this melding is not a bad thing. Although it is far from original, the novel is entertaining. The characters are likable and the backstory is interesting. There is definitely a lot of material left for the rest of the series, and plenty to make for a good TV show. The sequel is set to be released sometime in the spring of 2013.
Genre: Science-fiction/RomanceReading level: Grade 7+
Similar titles: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Chemical Garden trilogy by Lauren DeStefano, The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Cinder by Marissa Meyer.Themes: Romance, competition, dystopian, duty, caste system, class warfare, royalty, love triangle.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.
Series Information: First book in Selection series. Second book set to be released in spring 2013.Discussion questions:
- Why do you think Aspen insisted that America enter the Selection? Do you think it was the right thing to do?
- Why did Aspen get so upset with the feast that America prepared for him? Do you think his feelings were justified?
- Why do you think America was chosen to become one of the Selected?
- Which of the Selected, besides America, is your favorite? Least favorite? Why?
- Were you surprised by how America first spoke to Prince Maxon? Do you think it hurt or helped their relationship?
- Why do you think Prince Maxon likes America?
- Who do you think America will choose: Aspen or Prince Maxon? Why?