First Line: When we got the letter in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me.
For years, I just put off reading this book. I figured one day, I’d probably get around to it, but no rush. When it first came out, I remember it getting bad reviews for whatever reason. But with the next two books coming out and getting more notoriety, I became interested in it again. I wanted to see what it was about.
Thirty-five girls. One prince. For thirty-five lucky girls, the Selection is their chance to win the prince’s hand and become the next queen of Illea. And for most girls, this is a dream come true. But for America Singer, it’s a nightmare. She’s leaving home to compete against all these girls for a crown she doesn’t even want. And she has to turn her back on her Aspen, her first love. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, America begins to question all the plans she used to have for the future and wonders if maybe the plans she’d never made could be better. But living in the palace isn’t carefree, either. Rebels are constantly attacking the palace, each one striking closer and closer…
Initially, I really liked America. She was a strong character, someone who knew what she wanted and valued her family and Aspen so highly that she was willing to sacrifice things to make them happy. She didn’t want to be part of the Selection because it wasn’t how she wanted to find love. And when things fell apart around her, she was able to pick up the pieces. But best of all, she wasn’t afraid to be herself in a sea of girls who were changing to be what they thought Prince Maxon wanted them to be.
As the story progressed, though, America lost some of these qualities. She retained her individuality and her drive to get what she wanted, but she lost some of her other strength. She let a love triangle rule her life, something that I saw as unlike her based on how she acted at the beginning of the story. That bothered me. I couldn’t make the early America mesh with the later America. And by then, I was too busy rolling my eyes at said love triangle.
And the boys…let’s just say I’ve already picked the guy I like. Aspen…not a fan of his. His character truly bothered me. He’s so presumptuous when it comes to America, which is strange because he’s not like that in any other aspect of his life that i can tell. He just came across to me as though he thought America belonged to him. And not in a cute way. But I did like Prince Maxon. For a prince, he was delightfully awkward. He had no idea how to handle himself around girls in one-on-one situations, though he was great with speeches and other grand social functions. He was sweet and had a gentlemanly demeanor, which I thought Aspen lacked.
I know that the focus of this novel (and maybe series?) is Maxon and the Selection process. But I wanted more from it than that. I wanted to know more about Illea and the rebels attacking the palace. There seemed to be a pitiful amount of that in the story. Just enough that this could apparently be labeled “science-fiction” by my library. It was just a little boring because America seemed to know absolutely nothing about the world around her.
Parts of the novel felt safe and predictable. To an extent, I expected this. I just hate when they become obvious from very early on in the novel but don’t turn up until the end. Everything just felt cliche (the dystopian world, the secretive government, etc.) and stereotypical (the girls in the Selection). I thought this could’ve been handled better.
While I am interested in what the next novel has in store, I am not on pins and needles to get the book and find out.