I’ve been in a young adult literature mood, so I decided to check out The Selection series from my library. The Selection series features America Singer, the protagonist, who is selected along with thirty-four other girls to go to the palace and try to win the heart of Prince Maxon Shreave and the crown of Illea, the country which now inhabits all of North America and parts of Central America. America, being stubborn in that oh-so-prominent YA literature way, does not want Maxon or the crown. However, she’s encouraged to go try out both by her family and by her boyfriend Aspen. The Selection series follows her journey in and out of love with Aspen and Maxon (love triangle trope, anyone?) and the process through which all the young women compete for love and the crown. Throw in the fact that there are now castes in this dystopian future and that America is from one of the lower ones, and sparks fly between not only competing girls but also with the stereotypes they all live with through their born-into castes.
These books are easy to read because of the reading level with a young adult book and go by quickly. The plot keeps moving so that one has a difficult time of putting the books down. These are typical YA fiction novels with the ever-present love triangle, the protagonist who stubbornly stands out among the rest, and a dystopian world. However, they’re not boring as one would think they would be with all of these YA literature clichés sprinkled throughout. The author Kiera Cass does a great job creating and building what could be a completely ridiculous premise for a book.
At first I wasn’t sure how I would like these books, which is why I hadn’t read them yet, but I’m glad I read them. I was afraid the girls would be portrayed as damsels in want of a husband, and while this is present, Cass does a great job of showing how this contest tears apart the girls as well and how they begin to build friendships amongst themselves rather than simply fighting all the time. Yes, there are definite female tropes throughout the book, such as the “Bitch Trope,” the “Rich Bitch Trope,” and the “Gold Digger Trope.” However, even some of these characters show themselves to be individuals rather than just the trope that they are. Not all of the girls do this obviously since there are thirty-five personalities to write to begin with, but Cass does a good job of making some of the girls actually feel like real people.
Initially I had problems with the idea of thirty-five girls competing for the love of one man. It was a bit too The Bachelor for me, and I expected there to be a rose ceremony. However, there are other things that happen in the plot to show that these girls aren’t all vapid females trying to catch a male and are capable of strength in tough situations. America especially shows that she is more than just a woman searching for a man as she weighs the idea of becoming a queen and whether she truly wants that responsibility. That does get frustrating, though, because of all the flip-flopping on her part. Does she want Maxon or Aspen? Does she want her old life back or the life at the palace? Does she want the responsibility of the queen or simply the responsibility of her old life? This uncertainty is common in a lot of YA fiction with female protagonists and can actually lead the reader to dislike the protagonist instead of root for her. In this series, however, I did root for America and her relationship with Maxon. She was annoying at times, but honestly, what teenager isn’t once in a while?
If you’re looking for an easy read for entertainment and will be OK with all the tropes and clichés found in YA fiction, this is a good read. The plot intensifies throughout the series, and in my opinion, the last published book The One is actually the strongest book in the series. It was worth my time, and I did enjoy the series.