Protip: do NOT let Gillian and/or Meg talk you into reading this book. Honestly, if the urge ever comes over you to pick up The Selection just like, go and roll around in a garbage pile for a while because it’s basically the same effect.
Apparently this is supposed to be a dystopian novel but I’m pretty sure that’s either an ambitious lie in an attempt to market it to the masses (‘Read this book! It’s like 1984…with DRESSES!’) or the author doesn’t have a clue what the genre means. Whatever. So there’s like this…plot…I guess…about
The Bachelor the monarchy, in America, the American monarchy, a country that broke away from a monarchy in the first place but what is history to this book we just don’t know, using a system called ~The Selection~ to pick a wife for their royal sons. It’s basically set up exactly like the American network TV show this book was clearly heavily inspired by (just because Suzanne Collins did it does not mean it needs to become a trend) in that a tonne of girls can apply regardless of their backgrounds. Said applications are then whittled down to the ~chosen few~ who then go on to become the contestants Selected.
The dystopia, if you really squint, exists in between the lines of the book. For example, the main character, America (because FREEDOM!! or something, who knows), is a 5 and what that means is that she is essentially middle-class. The book tries to pretend like America and her family, along with other 5’s, are extremely deprived so you get scenes like all of them eating dinner and then America commenting that sometimes they don’t get seconds…life is hard. They exist in a society which separates its people into different
districts numbered classes. America and her family belong to the Artisan class and that, friends, essentially sums up this book’s very confused relationship with the dystopian genre. America’s boyfriend, Aspen (lol), is a better example – he belongs to a lower class and often looks dirty and hungry. He is this book’s representation of a Dickensian working-class. There’s also a subplot about rebels fighting against the monarchy but this is skimmed over because lol who cares about the oppressed fighting against the system that oppresses them. At no point does this book ever discuss the rampant misogyny of a system that forces teenage girls to compete for the hand of a man who perpetuates a system that ruthlessly forces a gap between the rich and the poor. That would be asking for too much.
As for the characters, well. There’s America, the main character, who wears vintage flats with a ball gown and considers that a rebellion as opposed to a fashion statement, Aspen, the moody ex-boyfriend who becomes a soldier but mostly just broods about every little thing and Maxon, who is bumbling and kind of socially awkward but goes around kissing other girls after telling America he loves her. They’re so much fun to read about, honestly.
To sum up I had a lot of issues with this book. It gets a half star only because it made me laugh at the sheer stupidity. There’s just so much stuff in this book that is either generic, like all the girls in The Selection having petty squabbles with each other because that’s all Cass could be bothered to come up with for her female characters, or downright ignorant, like the commentary on the rebels that pretty much says ‘all poor people look alike lol’. And of course, then there’s the outright stupid. I couldn’t explain this book’s version of history if I tried (it’s so bad, it’s just so bad) but it is clear that no research or effort was put into this novel at all.