A while back, I explained that I binge-read the Winner’s Series and my heart ached so badly from finishing those amazing books that I immediately had to fill the void with something else. The Selection Series to the rescue! Now ideally, I try to read a book and write a review about it almost immediately; and if not immediately, then at least before I pick up the next book. Lately, my record has been really bad in this regard. But hey, it’s not my fault authors write stories that are so amazing and compelling I can barely do anything but continue reading! (I know, I know. I’m aware that it is, in fact, completely my fault and that the problem in particular is called self-control… or lack thereof.) Again, sorry!
With that being said, read on for a spoiler-free and broad review of Books 1-3 of The Selection Series by Kiera Cass – The Selection, The Elite, and The One. (Note – this is spoiler-free for all three books. If you haven’t read any of these yet, you can rest assured that there are no spoilers for any of the books here.)
YA Fiction! Although, there are definitely “fantastical” and incredibly subtle “futuristic” elements here. Not to be misleading – I mainly say that because it takes place in the future; don’t expect robots or high-tech wizardry. And no magic or anything, but I can’t help but think of Princes and Princesses as fantastical. 😛 (Yes, I’m also fully aware of the fact that we have Princes and Princesses in real life. But I grew up with Disney, so there!)
Initially, I’d say this series leans more towards the literal YA age group than others classified in the same category, but upon further consideration, I do believe that people of all ages are fans of the Bachelor and Bachelorette – yay or nay? If yay, then I’d say The Selection Series is definitely wide-ranging and if you happen to be a fan of said-reality shows, then these books might be for you!
In the nation of Illéa, thirty-five girls are chosen to compete in the Selection – a chance to win the heart of Illéa’s Prince Maxon and become the next Queen. For nearly every girl, the Selection is a golden opportunity; a possibility to climb the castes, become royalty and, hopefully, find love. But for America Singer, being chosen is the last thing she wants.
The Selection Series takes place in Illéa, a reformed North America created after the Fourth World War. Illéa is divided into provinces and ruled by a royal family. I thought the idea of Illéa and its geographical and societal structure were all pretty intriguing. And besides being interesting, its history and formation are puzzle pieces that help to connect certain parts of the story.
I liked all the characters. Well, the main ones at least. They all grew on me and as the story progressed and the plot thickened I became more and more invested in them; which is how it should be, right? Right! Cass created a diverse and entertaining cast of personalities for this group and it kept the story moving along quite nicely.
What I Liked
I liked the writing. It was clear, descriptive, and conveyed the emotions and thoughts of the main character in a way that allowed me to get a good sense of her personality, which in turn helped with the aforementioned character-investment.
I liked the premise. In a way, it reminded me of the Hunger Games. To go into a little more detail than I initially gave in the overview, there are castes or “levels” of people in society; young children teen girls of marriageable age enter a competition to be the very best, like no one ever was- oops, my bad, I have the Pokémon theme song stuck in my head. Anyway, these girls willingly (unlike the Hunger Games…mostly) enter their names into a drawing and a Selection of girls is chosen to compete against each other for the grand prize of being the sole survivor and victor for their District marrying the Prince and becoming the future Queen. But with less violence. There was obviously a lot that could be done with this and Cass delivered. Which brings me to the next aspect I liked-
The characters. As I kind of mentioned above – I couldn’t get enough of them. Their development was steady and obvious throughout all three books – even for the minor characters. I also loved the romance, because I’m a sucker for romance 😀 And to be completely honest, my emotional investment in the characters kinda sorta maybe made me want to actually start watching the Bachelor or Bachelorette. Words I thought I’d never say for the reasons discussed below.
What I Liked A Little Less
As much as I love romance, I’m not really a fan of the Love Triangle. I know what you’re thinking – if I dislike love triangles, why on earth would I read a book about a whole gaggle of girls competing for the affection(s) of one boy?! That’s like a love triangle x 10! Or something.
And if you weren’t thinking that, then you are now, aren’t you?
Well, I’ll have you know – I chose to give it a go anyway (I can be whimsical) and, overall, I liked it. But…the back and forth became a bit much from time to time. I started out knowing who to cheer for, then I gradually lost all certainty, then gradually regained my certainty until I was sure once again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I’d give The Selection Series (Books 1-3) 4/5 stars.