Feb 15, 2016

The Selection (1) - Kiera Cass

Published in 2012. Prince Maxon is looking for a wife who would become the future queen of Illéia. For that purpose the palace has scheduled a contest in which 35 candidates will compete to win the prince’s love and rule the nation in the future.

America Singer is our favorite candidate, but she is caught in the dilemma of choosing between the prince’s proposal and Aspen’s love.

The novel is set in a dystopia which is divided into castes, being caste one the highest status, right where the king, the queen and the prince belong; and caste eight where the homeless are.

My score:

On this occasion our protagonist America Singer is a Five, that is, the caste of artists, singers and painters. As a member of this caste we could say that America is in the middle of society’s classification, that is, she is not a poor girl, but she does not enjoy the privileged class either, and therefore she will have to work to survive and cope with some shortcomings.

The kings have decided that their son Maxon should marry a girl who would be named among the marriageable girls of the country. It is customary that when the son of the kings reaches adulthood he chooses a spouse among the participants of the Selection, a competition that takes place in the palace.

Invitation letters are sent to all homes where a young potential candidate resides, and although normally this letter is received with great enthusiasm by the future contestants and their families, America Singer has good reasons for not wanting to take part in the competition. She already has specific plans for her future and does not want to ruin her happiness with pastimes that could take her away from real objectives. However, considering her current circumstances the competition would be a good option to ease her family’s difficulties.

America has a preconceived idea about Prince Maxon and assumes that the boy is no more than a cocky and conceited little brat who would have little to offer a woman with her interest. This hasty judgment would lead to a number of discrepancies between those involved for a while; later on, to her surprise, she will find out that the prince is someone with a kind personality and unsuspected principles. Consequently America conceives a plan to get out of economic trouble and proposes the Prince a deal in her benefit; and Maxon promises to consider upon reflection.

Well ... this book is a typical fairy tale, a story of princesses and damsels, aimed at a teenage audience basically. The star could not be more akin to the narrative, she makes perfect justice to the plot, she’s a spoiled and insecure girl who ultimately does not know what she wants.

America Singer is a very peculiar and contradictory character, at the beginning of the book she is introduced as a girl of modest origins who has been in serious trouble for survival: such as having to withstand the pressure of hunger, which suggests that the experience has given her a degree of maturity. However, contrary to this America soon makes her first tantrum the night of her first day in the palace, claiming to feel closed in and trapped by the walls that underpin the castle. Apparently now that she turned into a princess does not tolerate the small inconveniences that only a day earlier would have meant a real luxury that she could only allow herself in her best dreams. This behavior is somewhat affected if we consider that the girl belongs to caste five where members only dispose of modest houses, and her residing in palace assings her not only her own room but an entourage of maids that swirl around to supply her most trivial whim. Also, she keeps scolding the prince every time he addresses her by the epithet "dear" (making the reader's eyes roll up) why someone who freely agree to participate in a competition of this kind takes offense when someone calls them"Dear"? I just don't get it.

Although there are scenes in which America shows solidarity with those around her, arrogance is a frequent behavior she assumes when addressing the prince; and amazingly, most of the time he gives in to her impertinence. It is difficult to understand this contrast, on one hand America’s impudence; pretending to take part in the selection for purely economic interests and then have the nerve to admonish the prince in his own house, it’s priceless; and on the other hand the excessive tolerance by the part of the Prince; because due to the reasons already mentioned America deserved to have been expelled from the competition from day one, considering the prince does not need to put up, under any pretext, with nobody’s guff.

In conclusion this is a book that entertains a while, you read it up quickly and forget it soon after; and unless the reader is an adolescent (not that there's anything wrong in being so, of course) you will find the book a bit childish and inconsequential. However, it is well worth mentioning that what was aimed as a trilogy turned out to be a saga; and so far they have released seven parts of the work. I wonder if the story will get better in the next episode ...

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