The Selection by Kiera Cass; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass

Published: April, 2012

Number of Pages: 327

Rating: 5/5


For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. [From Goodreads]


If you don’t want me to be in love with you, you’re going to have to stop looking so lovely. First thing tomorrow I’m having your maids sew some potato sacks together for you.


This is the most enjoyable YA book I’ve read in a long time. I missed that feeling of urgency you get when a book excites you so much that you just cannot wait to know what happens. You can’t read fast enough, and you wish you could just “inhale” the book and have it over with. The Selection gave me that feeling. It’s not a literary masterpiece, it’s not a Pulitzer prizewinner, but it’s fun, it’s well written, and I’m so glad I read it.

America Singer is a very likable character. I know people say that all the time. What does it mean? In this case, it means that I always understood her motivation, admired her morality, and found her funny, quirky, and very real. I would want her as a friend, particularly if I were a part of The Selection. Her loyalty and willingness to be herself are the qualities I admire most, as they’re ones I hope to develop. They, along with her sense of humor, are what make her stand out in The Selection, and standing out is hard to do when you’re up against 34 beautiful women, most of whom have more money, better looks, and higher rank than you.

Though the Bachelor-meets-Cinderella element is fun, the most intriguing aspect of the book is Illea, the country that consists of what was once the United States and Canada. Within Illea is an eight-caste system, the details of which have been posted on Kiera Cass’s website, here. This system is both fascinating and disturbing, and America’s situation (spotty employment, hardly enough food, etc.) as a Five makes the dysfunction of Illean society evident, though I wish the hardships of her life had been discussed in more detail. It isn’t long before she’s the only five left in the competition. The tension surrounding the caste system, not to mention the frequent rebel attacks and the many clues that there is more behind the rebels’ anger than meets the eye, provides the book with a seriousness and gravity that it would otherwise lack.

One of the most controversial elements to the caste system is the way it limits interaction. There is no way a Five would ever interact with a One, let alone a member of the royal family, as anything more than a nameless employee – if it weren’t for The Selection. Similarly, very few people marry below their caste, and America’s mom would never hear of it. However, America has fallen in love with a Six, Aspen, and has met with him as often as possible – past curfew – for years. This forbidden love becomes more of a problem when she is selected and even more of a problem when America must reluctantly admit to herself that Prince Maxon is not the stuck-up jerk she expected him to be.

In other words, yes, there’s a love triangle.

I’ve made my feelings about love triangles quite clear, and I’ll admit that this is the most frustrating part of the series for me. I’m Team Maxon all the way, and my silly anxiety over who America will choose is eating away at me. However, this love triangle is less maddening than some, as America seems to have greater control over her heart and senses than many female YA protagonists, and for that, I’m grateful.

Overall, The Selection is addictive, entertaining, and a delightful addition to the world of dystopian YA. It’s a fairy tale in a dystopian world, and what could be more fun than that?

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