I found this book in the library while my nephew was having story hour. The basic premise is, as followed.
In the country of Illéa, formally North American, the citizens are classed into caste’s, numbered One through Eight (One being the absolute best, eight being the worst). The states have now become thirty-five provinces, and there is now a monarchy.
America Singer (facepalm here), a Five, has received and application to sign up for the Selection as she is between the ages of sixteen and twenty. The Selection is a competition between thirty-five girls to win the hand of Prince Maxon. Those in the Selection are an automatic Three, and the winner becomes a One. The competition is viewed on national TV and goes on until one is left.
The thing is, America is not interested. As she’s already madly in love with Aspen Leger, a cast below her. However Aspen convinces America to at least sign up for the Selection so he won’t have to wonder ‘what if.’ Then the next morning, America’s mother bargins with her. If she at least signs up, America can have her own paycheck. And, of course, America is chosen.
Oh, and there’s attacks from rebels. Because… dystopian novel…
I like the concept of this book. But the major this that drags this down for me is our main character. America Singer works as, what else, as singer. I don’t mind the name America but Singer?! Really Cass?! Fucking really?! She belittles other people for being ‘shallow’ but I really don’t see how they’re being as such. Despite America being a bit shallow and vein herself. The first thing she says when describing Aspen is, ‘(He) was, by far, the most attractive guy in town.’ She finds out Aspen’s saving to propose while having her picture taken for the application, ‘I don’t think any other girl in all of Illéa could have been smiling more than me.’
She’s one of those annoying ‘I’m so not pretty even though literally everyone else says otherwise,’ characters. And seems to be the ONLY one out of thirty-five girls who’s all ‘looks aren’t everything.’ I’m sorry, but I do not buy that bullshit. America’s also one of those annoying character that flip-flops between ‘I don’t have to take this’ to ‘I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT MY MA-AN!’ Katniss Everdeen had the PTSD and the fact that she wanted to keep Peeta safe, what’s your excuse, America.
I can’t even feel sorry for her when she’s picked for the Selection. America notices how she looked for the picture. She’s got the biggest smile after finding out about Aspen, realizes that she looked like she was in love, then says, ‘And some idiot thought that love was for Prince Maxon.’
Says the fucking genius who couldn’t wait five fucking minutes to express her joy, especially after finding out that the Selection wasn’t at random, like she thought! Then she gets pissy at a couple of officials from the palace because they had the audacity to make her sign papers, and keep her healthy. Aspen is a pussy and a tool. The moment America actually has her own money, and tries to treat Aspen, he wusses out because ‘the man should be the bread maker’ bull shit. Then he breaks up with her. See, the biggest issue with America and Aspen’s relationship is if they get married, America would now be in a lower caste. But THEN we find out that Aspen’s almost old enough for the draft, which could make him a Two. When we see Wussy-Pants again he’s a Royal Guard. WHY WAS THE CASTE AN ISSUE THEN?! I can’t even feel bad for Wussy-Pants when America realizes she could fall for Maxon, when Wussy-Pants was the one who convinced her to sign the application.
Price Maxon’s the only one of our main character’s I actually like, he disserves better than America. I do wish he chewed America out for their first meeting. He’s trying to be nice, she get’s pissy.
And for a dystopian novel set in the future, it’s way too modern. It really does not feel like anything’s changed besides the country’s name, and how it’s governed. This book really did not need to be a dystopian novel. It worked for Hunger Games because, really, how else could you get away with stuff like that? Divergent worked because, at first it seemed like it was on a smaller scale, then the story continues, you see how much bigger it is. This did not need to be dystopia.