The Selection by Kiera Cass

selection

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.

The Selection is utterly ridiculous.

Though this book is commonly classified as ‘dystopian’ (and it is probably regarded as such because there really isn’t any word for ‘alternate, restructured society written without critical societal analysis’), it is as dystopian as my right pinky finger (which is, not at all). Second, the plot and its developments have as much emotional depth as a reality television show. And yet, after months of thinking, I will hold my head high and unashamedly admit that I actually enjoyed this book.

I expect this will be the most confusing review I’ll probably ever write.

There is no denying that there is plenty wrong with this book. The ‘history’ is nothing short of appalling. The worldbuilding is a recipe for disaster: an absurd class system, rebel forces fighting for who know’s what, and a very convenient monarchy. There is no cultural analysis, no political analysis, no social analysis — or any sort of analysis, even though the story has so much potential for them. Here’s the thing though: The Selection isn’t any of those things because it isn’t trying to be those things. Is that a bad thing? Possibly; it depends how you look at it. If you’re looking for critical analysis, drop that copy of The Selection right now and revisit The Handmaid’s Tale or Nineteen Eighty Four. If not, allow me to explain why I enjoyed The Selection despite.

To an extent, The Selection isn’t trying to pass itself off as a subversive, gritty dystopia/utopia. It is, however, predominantly a fluffy story with fluffy dresses and a fluffy romance. What you see is what you get: a girl who gets chosen for the Selection and is trying to navigate the petty dramas therein. Perhaps she finds love, perhaps she finds friends, perhaps she learns something about herself. There are snippets of dialogue, particularly among the protagonist’s poor family who are of a low caste, that try and hint to the tribulations of the downtrodden, but really, the attempts for any sort of socio-political discourse on classism and economic inequality are so halfhearted that they are easy to dismiss and forget. And perhaps that’s why I liked it: it was so ridiculous and inane that I could not take it seriously.

And now I come to America Singer’s defense – flawed she may be, but she is sixteen years old, a teenage girl who probably hasn’t figured herself out yet. In a way, America was like sixteen-year-old-me: trying to be ‘me’ (whatever that was) by going through a process of attitude/beliefs by trial and error, is easily affected by the things around her, and is trying not to get swept away by the romance and drama but is being hopelessly swept away anyway. America isn’t perfect at all, but she is compassionate, optimistic, and honest. It’s unfortunate that America’s character development serves the thinly veiled girl-girl competition fraught in this book, particularly with the ‘I’m not like those other (preppy) girls’ trope. The relationships are laughable – in a sardonic way – and the love triangle in this takes the cake as the most contrived I have ever read.

The Selection is everything I dislike in a book wrapped into one: a joke of a ‘dystopia’, a story that makes no sense, a cheap love triangle, and utterly halfhearted in everything it does. (Did I mention that it was wrapped in a jewel encrusted bow?) However, if you are willing to set aside your critical lens and you are looking for something unapologetically silly, light, and entertaining with dresses, petty dramas and contrived romances, then The Selection is not a terrible choice. It’s a fun book that is purely escapist material. Sure, there are better places, better worlds to escape to, but at the time of reading, it was perfect for me. I was emotionally drained from work and life, and this inane story helped me wind down. Maybe if I had read it at a different time, I would have torn it to shreds but, alas, such are the wonders of reading.

So there it is: The Selection may not be a good book, but heck, I had a lot of fun reading it.

Rating: 2/5

Book Information
Book Name: The Selection
Book Series: The Selection #1
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher: HarperAudio
Format: Audiobook

The Selection in:
Goodreads | Book Depository | FoylesMy review on Goodreads


I know the rating seems low even though I enjoyed it – but as a lover of dystopian novels, on principle I couldn’t rate it any higher. BUT I ENJOYED IT. My feelings for this book are confusing. Also, as a note, I am so happy with my book art for this! (I love sparkle and flowers.)

  • Have you read The Selection, and if so do you like it? Does the series get better with each book?
  • Do you have books that you *know* aren’t good but ‘WHO CARES they’re fun’?
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27 thoughts on “The Selection by Kiera Cass

  1. LMAO dammit, your review is indeed confusing. But in the best way. This is exactly how I felt about the first book in the Lux series. Like it was so bad that it was kind of alright? Sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy the book and laugh at how silly everything is. Will you be reading the others in the series?

    • Haha right?? I was just like. ARGH so many conflicted feelings.
      That’s exactly how I feel! So bad it’s good. I agree – this book is pure silliness and I appreciate it for that. There isn’t a serious bone in it at all, it almost feels satirical in some places.

      I may! But other books have my attention for now, so it’ll be a ‘if it’s convenient’ sort of thing. :D

  2. Haha, I loved reading this review :) I can say with certainty that The Selection isn’t the best dystopian book out there, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be. It’s here to be fluffy and cute, and it perfectly serves this purpose. That story could have gone a completely different way, putting more of an emphasis on the dystopian world, but it clearly didn’t. I might have enjoyed it a bit more than you did, maybe it’s because I read this before I started blogging, and analysing books a little bit more, but… I really enjoyed reading it, because it was distracting before anything else :)

    • Thank you Marie!!
      Hahha agreed! I don’t know if I’d call it dystopian… but I enjoyed it too, despite my many, many criticisms.
      You make a good point – it didn’t emphasize the dystopian elements, and it was just a fun book, good escapist material! And I appreciate that for what it is. c:

  3. I enjoyed this book, even though I agree, it’s not that dystopian or serious. But the problem is, I never take this series seriously. I don’t take it as a part of dystopian-craze-post-thg, I always view this book as a written form of the bachelor, so I don’t really expect much substance in it :D I didn’t enjoy The Elite, America is really annoying in that book. But I like the One better than the Selection. So I guess it ended with a bang :D

    • Fair enough! I think I view this book the same too; there’s nothing in the book I can take seriously, so there’s that. XD
      Ooh okay! Thanks for the feedback. <3 I'm saving these books for when I want to read some fluffy and silly to read. Thank you Tasya! <3

  4. YOU ARE SO RIGHT!
    Ok, The Selection could have been the same book if we remove the dystopian aspect :O and she could have focused more on giving the characters more depth. The Selection was not very dystopian though, it just feel like a random fact that she decided to add like oh, AND it’s dystopian. But not that dystopian, and then she moves on and we forget all about the dystopian part….It’s like, all right O_O” ok……..
    *tries to forget the dystopian part*
    But I have read all of The Selection books but the last one, regardless… even though I really don’t like it. So yes, I agree. They aren’t the best books, but they are a bit fun :).
    I agree with so much here XD

    • You make such a good point! It would’ve been the same without the dystopian aspect. And I agree with your assessment that the dystopian was more of a footnote than something meaningful to the story. I almost wish The Selection was satire too; it would’ve been so good, haha.

      Oh okay! I’ll save the books for when I want to read something fun! Thanks Brianne/Angeline! <3

  5. This seems like one of the cases where “it’s so bad, it’s good” huh. LOL Though it’s kinda cute to find something that doesn’t take itself too seriously even when it’s supposed to be touching on the serious theme! I find that ultimately more refreshing than stories that take itself too seriously and then fall short, but in general I also prefer humor and self-awareness in my reads. Something like this can totally be a satire. haha

    • Pretty much! It was pretty bad… I think that’s why I gave up on thinking it would be good and just enjoyed the ride anyway.

      I do too! Sometimes we need that. And despite my criticisms, I found The Selection quite charming. XD

  6. This is SO FUNNY because for the longest time I thought it was trying to be this gritty dystopian because I’ve only heard it being a dystopia novel and I was like, “ugh I’m so done with dystopia YA tbh”. Honestly, I don’t think I can enjoy the novel. I tend to take things way too seriously sometimes and at the wrong times. So I feel like this would be one of those times. I mean come on, there’s supposed to be a rebellion, but if any kind of class clash is cast to the side, what’s the point of having a rebellion other than having a kind of overarching conflict to be like, “oo but remember this ~spooky~ rebellion”?? Still, I’m glad you enjoyed the novel. Sometimes it’s good to indulge in some guilty pleasures.

    • HAHA, ahhh, The Selection is as dystopian as, say, Me Before You.
      Tbh, unless you want stupid, guilty-pleasure fun, I would never recommend The Selection. X’D

      HAHA ME TOO. Sometimes I read these books because I’m almost asking for a bad book so I can unleash my fury on it. But, I found The Selection quite charming??

      But YES EXACTLY. I’m tired of the rebellion for the sake of rebellion thing because it diminishes the importance/impact of revolution… which can be kinda important?? IDK. :I

  7. As many have said, you have completely hit the nail on the head on this book. I wouldn’t even go so far as to call it a “bad” piece of fiction, either, as it perfectly succeeds in what it aims to do: be brain candy. As much of an ~*intellectual*~ as I claim to be, I own the whole series and devoured it. Sometimes you need some extremely unrealistic trashy fiction to separate yourself completely from true life, and this is the series to do it with. Great — and hilarious — review, CW!

    • Hi Amber! How have you been?

      Haha yes! I would not shy away from the label of ‘bad’ piece of fiction and brain candy. HAHA me too! I love books that engage me intellectually, but eh, sometimes you need to read some mindless fun trash.
      Have you read the other books?

      Thank you Amber! ^_^

  8. I had very similar feelings with The Selection. I don’t necessarily think this book is worth all the hype, but it was a nice fluffy read as long as you don’t overanalyze it. I like books with more depth, so it wasn’t my cup of tea.

  9. I know what you mean! However, even if a book isn’t “good”, I’ll still rate it up to 4-4.5 stars, depending on how much I loved it. I really liked the Selection; I feel like a lot of people just go into it expecting it to be something it’s not, and I like it for what it is!
    -Amy

  10. I really enjoyed THE SELECTION for it’s fluffiness. I definitely agree with you about your review, though. However, I was so entertained by them that I ended up devouring the series in a few days. I gave them high ratings since I enjoyed them so much.

    -Jordan @ The Heart of a Book Blogger

    • Hi Kathy! I think if you want something very silly and something to just binge-read for fun, The Selection isn’t bad. It’s purely just for fun! If you want something engaging, I say give it a miss. :) There are definitely better time investments elsewhere.
      Thank you so much!

  11. Anyone else read Kiera Cass’ standalone, The Siren? For me, it was everything I loved about The Selection, minus all the problems of that series. Definitely recommend it if you enjoyed The Selection.

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