Why I checked it out: I’ll admit it, I picked it up because the cover was pretty. But I checked it out because it’s dystopian and I found out there’s a television show it in the works based on the book.
What it’s about: Sixteen-year-old America Singer lives in the nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. All America really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, but Aspen is below her in caste and her parents would never allow it. When America is chosen to compete in the Selection, a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s Prince Maxon (and a guaranteed elevation in caste), Aspen encourages her to go, to try and win a better life for her family.
Why I sort of liked it: It is far more interesting and complicated than the premise leads you to believe. (“The Bachelor” anyone?) There is a very real element of danger in being willing to be Selected; there are often attacks on the palace by rebels. Prince Maxon is adorably clueless with the whole dating thing and appropriately nervous about the whole country watching him figure it out on national television. I’m also intrigued by the caste system, the two factions of rebels, and the collapse and reconsolidation of North and Central America. I think Cass has hinted at a lot of things that could become very dramatic in the future, if only she would flesh them out.
Note that I said “sort of,” so here’s the other shoe dropping: I don’t care about America. Not really. I got really tired of reading about what she was wearing and how her hair was done. I do care about these two guys she’s debating over, but I am so very tired of the obligatory love triangle in YA fiction. Gross.
I will probably read the sequel, though. I might even tune into the TV show, just to see if the characters match how I imagined them.