9 December 2015
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24th 2012
Add It: Goodreads
The best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had are full of delicious, "bad-for-you" ingredients, are only $3 and I often find myself devouring almost an entire packet in one sitting despite knowing I probably shouldn't eat that many cookies. But, I can't help it, I just enjoy them so much. The Selection is a bit like that. It's cheap, nasty and has everything I could possibly hate in literature, yet I found myself addicted and it was so much fun.
(I still stand by my opinion that the controversy surrounding this a few years ago as a result of a couple of individuals was weak and really fucking poor on their behalf)
Aside from my disgust at certain people involved, this book was so fluffy and fun to read. The first 100 pages were an absolute drag, but after the initial slog, I couldn't put it down at all and just enjoyed the ride, although it's not without flaws.
As I expected, the characterization in The Selection was weak. America Singer (I will never get used to that name - ever.) is portrayed as compassionate, down to earth and is generally pretty likable. However, she's also kind of a special snowflake... She is portrayed as better than the other girls because she goes "light on the makeup" and likes to wear jeans instead of dresses. America is also constantly told how pretty/beautiful she is, and you guessed it - doesn't believe it! WOW! What a surprise!!! The way America is written as a special snowflake would normally annoy the ever loving fuck out of me, but I actually really enjoyed her as a character and loved her banter, wit and her overall personality.
The other girls in the competition are portrayed as vapid, shallow bitches and America calls them "fake" etc. Essentially, this is just another tool used to make America stand out as a special snowflake among a sea of other women. They don't have a lot of personality as it's clear the reader is supposed to hate other characters, particularly Celeste, because they're the stereotypical nasty, pretty girl in a YA novel.
The worldbuilding isn't that great either, in fact it's pretty shit. All of the world building and history is given to the reader in the form of "History lessons" in classes at the castle which are really just a disguise for lots of gigantic infodumps in which we may as well be given a page of dot points instead of it being mushed together with dialogue. The actual caste system itself is sketchy and disorganised, and I still don't understand why we're meant to feel sorry for America and her family for being Fives. Oh, you're middle class musicians and can "only" afford to eat pasta and chicken for dinner and can "only" afford the bare minimum of makeup? Please.
The writing is unremarkable, and at times just straight up bad. The dialogue is stilted and at times cringy, but I suppose it was easy to read.
Also, let's get one thing straight. While this book is marketed as a dystopia, it should not be considered a dystopia at all. The competition in which the girls do not have to participate in (sure, there is monetary gain for the families, but they're not exactly being forced against their will), has no negative outcomes, in fact the outcomes of losing the competition are still pretty positive. As I said before, the caste system is sketchy and the only thing that could possibly point to this being a dystopia is the poverty, which even then, is not explored in enough depth to even be considered a huge deal compared to the extravagant risk-free competition to win the heart of the hot, kind, caring Prince Maxon. Oh wait, there is also a minor threat of rebels who attack the castle every now and again, but they're kind of just a tacked on thing to add a little bit of drama that isn't fuelled by the bitchiness of the competition. This is not a dystopia. This is pure fluff, but that's okay and I love it. (Just don't fucking call something like this a dystopia, please - there is no social commentary in this, when there was so much opportunity for it and dystopia is typically used as a platform to discuss serious world issues).
This could have been so much more than it was, however I can't deny that I had fun reading it. I read 250 pages of this in one sitting and I enjoyed it, dammit.