My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In her second novel, The Selection, Kiera Cass has created a world that is vaguely based on our society, but with a big twist. In the future—after two more world wars—the United States is combined with other countries to form a new country, called Illéa, ruled by a monarchy.
Illéa has a few major differences from our society. There is a caste system; each child will follow the profession of their parents in a system of social levels from one to eight. Those unlucky enough to be born to be an Eight are little more than uneducated laborers.
America Singer is born a Five, the caste of artists and entertainers. She can sing like a bird, and play several musical instruments. Life is hard as a Five, based completely on the number of patrons who support their work. She is home schooled and only taught what her parents feel she needs for her profession as a performer. However, America has greater ambitions. She would like to marry the boy she loves, Aspen. But Aspen is a Six and will have a life as a day laborer. People can marry into a caste lower than theirs, but it frowned upon and the news will certainly not be well received by America’s parents.
When the king’s only son is of age he must find a bride to help him rule in a contest of girls selected from around their country; a la The Bachelor. The Selection for the new princess bride pits America against her mother and Aspen; both of whom realize this is an opportunity for a better life. Believing all odds are against her even being picked, America agrees to send in her application for selection only to appease her mother and boyfriend. Then the unthinkable happens; America is chosen as one of The Selection.
While might seem that I have given you the entire plot to this young adult novel, I promise that this is only the tip of the iceberg of what Cass has put into her novel. I’ll admit that I’m a little biased to any romance story that has a strong female heroine forced to pick between two equally compatible men. In this case, there is the obviously wealthy and handsome prince against the handsome and sweet common man. But to call The Selection simply a romance would do it an injustice.
Cass takes on strong social issues, while exaggerated for this tale, which exist in our world today. The novel will make any young lady—or, in my case, woman on the other side of forty—think about how she relates to the world around her and how she wants to define her life. Yet, there is nothing preachy or soapbox about this novel.
The Selection is an enjoyable read and I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series. Dare I beg Cass to write faster? No, I’ll anxiously but patiently wait for the next America story because I strongly believe that a good novel is worth waiting for.
I will urge women of a certain age, who might overlook this novel because of its young adult classification, to rethink their decision. A good story is a good story regardless of the intended audience’s age group. Some of the best writers today are not focused on mature women but today’s young ladies. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who better to show young girls how to be independent, strong women? Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword.