The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
Reviewed by: Jeny W
Fiction , Science Fiction/Fantasy , Young Adult
Title: The Selection Series
By: Cass, Kiera
Call #: YA Fiction Cass.K
The Selection. 2012, The Elite. 2013, The One. 2014
This wonderful YA series is kind of like a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games (with less death and gore). It takes place in a society where citizens are divided in castes, numbered One through Eight, each with its own role to play. Ones are the royalty, Twos are the celebrities and members of the military, Threes are the ‘great minds’—teachers, inventors, doctors and such, Fours are the businessmen, Fives are the performers, Sixes are the workers and the servants at the palace, Sevens are the manual laborers and Eights are the ‘unemployable’– those with mental illnesses, addictions and traitors to the crown. When the heir to the crown reaches marrying age, a competition called The Selection is held. Thirty-five eligible, randomly selected women from across the kingdom are brought in to compete for the prince’s hand.
The story follows America Singer, a Five. America has no real desire to enter The Selection because she is secretly in a relationship with a boy named Aspen, who is a Six. However, her mother bribes her to submit her name and lo and behold, she is picked.
America meets Prince Maxon in a bit of an unorthodox way and they hit it off, not romantically, but as friends, and they strike up a deal: America will be Maxon’s eyes and ears behind the scenes– finding out what the other girls really think of him and advising him on whom he should pick– and America will get to stay in the Selection for as long as possible– because the longer she stays, the more social and financial benefits there are for her family.
Predictably, America starts to have feelings for Maxon… and of course, that’s when Aspen shows up to complicate things, having been hired as a palace guard. America cannot let anyone know that she and Aspen had ever been romantically involved, or that they still have feelings for each other, however, because any girl caught in a relationship with someone other than Maxon is immediately convicted of an act of treason and sentenced to death.
The series isn’t groundbreaking. In fact, you can probably guess the outcome. But it’s a great little read that takes place in a very interesting and thought-provoking world. If you’re looking for something quick and fun to throw in your beach bag this summer, give this series a whirl.
I’m writing below as a separate review from the first three books in the series because these two follow a different main character.
So… ***SPOILER ALERT IF YOU’VE NOT READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN THE SERIES***
The Heir. 2015, The Crown. 2016
Princess Eadlyn Schreave is the product of one of the most fairy tale love stories the kingdom has ever known: that of her parents, King Maxon and Queen America. Eadlyn was born just a few moments before her twin brother, and her parents changed the law so that she could become the first female ruler of the kingdom.
Maxon and America have abolished the caste system and not everyone is happy with that decision—most notably, those who used to be of a high caste. Some people even believe that there should not be a monarchy anymore in order to make every citizen truly equal to the next. There is unrest in the kingdom and as a distraction, her parents convince Eadlyn to have her own Selection. Eadlyn is opposed to the idea, believing that she does not need a husband’s help to rule the kingdom. However, she does want to help her parents, and although Eadlyn does not believe that she will find anyone she wants to spend the rest of her life with, she accepts—if the Selection is conducted on her own terms.
The series was originally plotted as being only three books, but at the end of the trilogy—when the success of the series was far beyond what anyone had ever imagined it would be—a fourth book was announced. Many were skeptical—it felt like a bit of a grab for money on the author’s part, a way to milk the success she’d found for all it was worth.
And after reading the first book… I kind of agreed. It was great being immersed in that world again, but it felt forced. Eadlyn was not exactly a likable character and I didn’t really care whether or not she found her happiness. The Selected boys were not as unique or fleshed out as the girls had been in the original Selection. And I wasn’t vying for any one of them to end up with a spoiled, snotty young woman for the rest of their lives.
And after reading the second book, I had some very mixed feelings about Eadlyn’s story. Of course, she does fall in love with someone, and she’s much more likable this time around. But, I almost felt like everything happened much too quickly—like it deserved to be broken into three volumes instead of just two. The love story came out of nowhere and progressed at such a rapid pace that it wasn’t even remotely believable. Eadlyn makes another tremendous, life-altering decision in the blink of an eye and again, I just didn’t buy it.
I loved the first three books and I highly recommend them. These last two, I could really take or leave. If you read the first three and stop there, you really won’t be missing much.