The Selection as I drove across South Carolina after graduating with my master's degree, and it was the perfect diversion, as frothy as the blue gown on the book's cover.
In an alternate future (I wouldn't call it dystopian), society has been divided into eight castes, which dictate everything about the citizen's lives. When a royal male comes of age, they hold The Selection: a lottery which brings thirty-five girls from around the country to compete to become the country's next princess. America Singer (yup) is from the artist caste, five, which is looked down upon, but not nearly as much as her secret boyfriend, Aspen, who is a servant from caste six. When she is chosen for The Selection after Aspen breaks her heart, it seems like the perfect escape, because she knows she won't really end up with the stiff Prince Maxon. Yet life in the castle is not what she expected, and she finds herself becoming friendly with Maxon. Could she become the princess and could she ever really forget Aspen?
I found myself enjoying this novel far more than expected. The plot and cover made me roll my eyes slightly; was I really interested in listening to an eight hour love triangle? Apparently I was, when it entails a lot of makeovers! I am a sucker for makeover montages and was a bit sad when the film version of The Hunger Games edited down that part of the novel. I've never seen "The Bachelor", but there are bound to be comparisons between the show and the plot, yet it was absorbing and fun (maybe "The Bachelor" is, too?)
I listened to The Selection right after finishing Insurgent, and was a bit jarred by how different the two protagonists are. The Selection's America is as open, innocent, and friendly as Insurgent's Tris is difficult, secretive, and strong. Much like the citizens who watched the competition on television, I found myself liking America for her basic goodness. Some of her characteristics don't match up: at one point she wishes to just be alone with a violin, yet in the next scene she is alone in a room full of instruments and can't be bothered to play. It felt like Cass only occasionally remembered that America is a musician instead of having that be one of her passions. America also marvels at how another contender is able to start conversations with people, yet several chapters earlier it was America who spent the longest time at the airport, greeting fans and speaking to them personally. I hope that her character becomes more fleshed out in the second book.
I was surprised by how the novel ended. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Prince Maxon has not made his decision by the end of the book. I wonder if the competition will continue throughout the remaining books in the trilogy. I am rooting for Prince Maxon and America to end up together. He is such a well-developed character while Aspen remains a sketch of a "good guy from back home."
This novel is already being made into a television series for the CW, so Cass is doing lots of publicity. Among my favorite finds is her Pinterest page with the images that inspired her while writing the book. I am eager to see where this series goes and watching the television show while I wait for book two.