Thursday, September 8, 2016
The Selection by Kiera Cass
In the wake of the successful Hunger Games series, which was inspired in part by the hit reality TV show Survivor, someone came along and decided to do the exact same thing except instead of Survivor, it's The Bachelor. The Bachelor Games, if you will.
The story is that of a girl named America Singer (groan). She gets picked along with a multitude of other girls to take part in the Selection, an event where the country's prince choses a bride from among the Selected girls. But America is already in love with her secret boyfriend Aspen and so when she discovers that Prince Maxon is actually a nice guy, she finds her heart torn between the two.
First off, if you like The Bachelor and triangle romances, there's technically nothing wrong with this book. For me, however, it comes off as just a little cliche. There's not a lot of meat on the bones of these characters that really drags you in. Maxon is just typically nice, Aspen is your very typical Disney Princess "wishing for more out of life", and America (cringe) is your typical bland protagonist that you're not quite sure why everyone loves who is amazing at everything without really trying. Yeah. That's kind of it.
There are sparks of interest throughout the book and potential for good ideas. The set up of the story is interesting and could work, but without interesting characters, it's hard to care about it. I did find it hard to put the book down at times but not so much because I was enthralled with the story but more like "there's GOT to be something interesting on the next page" kind of way. The scenes between America and Aspen just drag on and on, their sugary sappiness is just draining and not at all interesting. The ending of the book is very abrupt and the revolution subplot just feels out of place, like there had to be a revolution because these novels need a revolution.
A lot of things feel like they were added just because they felt like they needed to be, as though the author was following a Young Adult recipe. Dystopian future. America (the country) in shambles. Other contestants raging for inexplicably mean girl to overly nice BFF. A caste system you can easily turn into an online personality test, so on and so forth. They're handled just fine in their own right, but when you've read them over and over again, it can be a little on the boring side.
But my major problem with this book does include a spoiler so, if you don't want to read it, just skip down to the Final Verdict:
*SPOILER ALERT* Yeah, so the big problem with basing a story around a something like The Bachelor is, if you're following a contestant that doesn't win, what's the point? America does end up winning, but not in this book. It's not until the third installment of this series that she finally wins even though you could probably guess from the start of the book that she was going to anyway. At least The Hunger Games kept the actual competition to just one book and used the others to expand the story. But to read three books of increasing length only to discover the outcome is exactly what we thought it was going to be, just seems needlessly drawn out. It'd be better if the characters or the plot was actually interesting but, like I said earlier, it's just not. The premise works a little better in the sequel series, where the main character is the Bachelorette, but from this point of view it's a no-win situation. If she wins, we all know it's coming. If she doesn't win, then what was the point of all of this? It's a rock and a hard place and without interesting characters that we actually care about, there's really no point to this. *END OF SPOILERS*
The Selection is an uphill battle of sappy romance and generic plot but, with those in mind, it is at least forward with it being a sappy romance and is an interesting look at what goes on behind the scenes of romantic reality TV. Personally, it's just not my cup of tea, but if it sounds like the kind of thing you'd enjoy, I'd say it's worth checking out at your local library. Check it out and decide for yourself.
Next Time: Imagine, if you will, Leverage if it took place in the world of the Grisha....