Hi everyone! My friend Caroline wrote a guest review for you! She has a Youtube channel so definitely check it out here!
*This review may contain spoilers*
The Selection, written by Kiera Cass, is a book about a competition for the crown. In Illea, if the royal family produces a prince, The Selection will occur as soon as he comes of age. Maxon Schreave has just come of age, and the race for the Selection begins, and thousands of girls from the 35 provinces of Illea enter to try and live in the palace to try and win the prince’s heart. Nearly everyone is hoping to be the one Selected girl from their province, except for America Singer, a lowly five in love with another. Despite her strong willed mother’s wishes, America’s stubborn nature makes her obstinate toward the idea of even entering the Selection, not wanting to leave her family and her secret boyfriend Aspen Ledger behind. But she is convinced by Aspen and her mother to enter, and is soon selected. America is soon shipped off to the palace to compete to become Maxon’s wife, only playing the game for the benefits it will give her family. America’s distaste for the Selection and the prince are quickly revealed through her fiery nature that matches her red hair when she accidentally meets the prince for the first time. This begins their relationship and forms a tenuous bond with different implications for each one. Maxon’s feelings for America are obvious to anyone except her, but she confesses to the prince that she is not there by her own choice, and does not want to be his beloved, even though this could get her immediately kicked out of the castle. America hopes to convince him to let her stay by offering to be his friend and confidant during the contest. Maxon’s giving spirit shines through as he agrees, and tells her he’ll try to keep her in the palace for as long as possible. America and Maxon grow closer as the competition continues. One night while the two are spending time together in America’s room, Maxon surprises America with a kiss, which happens to be his first, and this truly sparks her feelings for him. But as America tries to let herself fall out of love with Aspen and into love with the prince, her past lover arrives at the castle as a guard, making her future at the palace an unanswerable question.
Throughout the first book of the series America struggles to balance and choose between her feelings for both Maxon and Aspen. This really tugs at the heartstrings of readers, because some find comfort in Maxon because he is kind, understanding, and provides a juxtaposition to America which is both refreshing and romantic for her. He is her safe harbor, which she needs when all her life she has felt alone and depended on by her family. But Aspen is the wild one, the forbidden fruit, the escape from her everyday humdrum life. He is her first love, and will always have a place in her heart, and some do not want her to give him up. As well, Aspen has the same intense passion that fuels America and she in turn him, while Maxon’s love for things is stronger, but more subtle, so that America is drawn to him, and not pushed by the weight of her obligations like she is Aspen. Each boy has qualities that make them wonderful matches for America, and as the book ends it is still unknown who America will choose.
The aspect of family in this book is touching, because America’s love for her father and younger siblings makes her hardened exterior soften a little, while her mother’s pressure makes her strong. It shows how big a role family plays, especially with a caste system like there is in The Selection. They lean on each other for both love and prosperity. But a less beautiful undertone that is connected to family in this book is the fact that financial troubles can put a strain on love in the family. Everyone is stressed because there is never enough to go around, and Gerad, the youngest family member, has no artistic abilities, as is the profession of the Fives, which means only four people are working to feed five people. Love can only help so much.
Finally, the theme of friendship is worked into the book. Even though all 35 girls are battling against each other for Maxon’s hand, bonds are formed between the girls, and they become nearly sisters. America, a sheltered and mysterious girl, connects most with a girl named Marlee Tames. They protect each other, and when Marlee gets in trouble America tries to help her. Living together helps the girls realize that destroying the others doesn’t help win favor, but that they should support one another while keeping in mind not to sacrifice themselves. It mirrors a necessity in today’s world for women to help each other rather than hurt each other. Women must stand as a united front to be strong against sexism in society.
Personally I loved this book, and recommend it for everyone to read. It provides a strong heroine that many people can connect with, as well as other self-empowered female side characters, a love triangle, and a competition to see who will become the next princess of Illea.
Have a wonderful weekend,