Book 19: The Selection (book 1) by Kiera Cass

Thanks to my friend, library patron, and blogger extraordinaire Amy, I was able to get my hands on the ARC of The Selection by Kiera Cass. Set for a May 2012 release, this YA novel perfectly combines elements of modern reality TV, with a futuristic dystopian society, and the historic ideologies and pressures of being a royal family.

America Singer lives in a world where the caste system decides for each person, at birth, what their life will be, what kind of job they can perform, and what kind of lifestyle they will live. The royal family is ‘One’, and the poorest and jobless are ‘8’. America is a ‘5’ and is of the performer caste, so she and her family make their money as artists and musicians, but art is commissioned and gigs are booked only at the need of the higher castes, so the Singer family lives at the mercy of wealthier families. The only way to rise in the caste system is to marry up; which is exactly what America and 34 other girls chosen from across the country of Illea are hoping for.

America and the other girls are vying for the attention of Prince Maxon. Whereas princesses are married off to other countries (in an attempt to strengthen international ties), princes of Illea must go through the selection, a televised “The Bachelor”-like reality show that begins with makeovers and ends in a proposal. But in Illea there are no do-overs, divorces, or break-ups like with nearly every single Bachelor/Bachelorette couple. The rise in caste improves not only the girl’s status, but her family’s as well, making the selection a very serious matter (especially for a ‘5’ like America).

This story is just wonderful. America is a very likeable character. What I respect most about her is that she loves her family, but refuses to martyr herself for their happiness. She doesn’t want to be a part of the selection, in fact she only puts her name in at the urging of the boy she loves; he, being a caste ‘6’, would never forgive himself if he took from her an opportunity to improve her life. Noble, I suppose. :/ So anyway, she does what he asks and, as you know from previous sentences, gets chosen!

The twists in the story are really great and, whether because I’m naive or because I actually enjoy reading a book without trying to figure out the ending, I didn’t see them coming! And I actually love where the author ended the novel. No cliffhanger; just a simple “To be continued…”. I will definitely be recommending this book to young adult girls and adult women who love YA literature. The characters are real, although some are a bit stereotyped (but it’s a reality tv show! That’s too be expected.)

So interesting fact…I first heard of this book by fellow librarian Liz, who pointed out that the three books are being published just as the TV show is being aired (a la Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars). An article published this week names some of the cast members, so the show probably won’t air until later this year (?). I hate that it is being produced by the CW, because really…what good TV have they ever made? Regardless, I’ll definitely give the first episode a shot! I truly enjoy seeing characters brought to life on the TV or silver screen.

…hence why I am STOKED about The Hunger Games tonight!!!!

No seriously…a month ago I bought 14 tickets for me and 13 of my most favorite people. (Um, they’re paying me back folks…I’m a librarian, not a millionaire.) I will refrain from posting any movie review for a couple days. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone.

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