Saturday, September 3, 2016

Review: The Selection, The Elite, and The One (Books #1-3)

This is a review of the first books in the dystopian young adult series, The Selection by Kiera Cass. First premiering in 2012, these books focus on the budding romance between America Singer (17 years old), a gifted if temperamental level five commoner from Carolina, and Maxon Scheave (19 years old), prince of Illea.

35 girls. 1 crown. The competition of a lifetime.
The Selection is the first novel in the Selection series. In a far out future, the United States no longer exist. After gaining independence from a foreign nation, North America has been renamed as Illea, after its founder who established a monarchy as the form of government. People are born into a status (Levels 1-8) -- the higher the number, wider of career options (and wealth). Level 1 is the royalty (Illea's descendants). Levels 2-3 are the upper class. Levels 4-5 are the middle class. Families in levels 6-7 tend to be servants ("working poor") to the higher classes. Level 8 are the outcasts living in poverty. Some people do not like the current status system, which is why rebellions have occurred more frequently and violently.

When the prince enters adulthood, the palace hosts a televised contest called the Selection (think the Bachelor for teens) where 35 girls selected from a pool of candidates have the opportunity to escape a life laid out to them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

35 girls came to the palace. Only six remain.
The Elite is the second novel in the Selection series. The Selection began with 35 girls. Now the group has narrowed down to the six Elite, and the competition to win Prince Maxon's heart is fiercer than ever. America Singer has grown accustomed to the palace, but she still struggles over the decision on where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen? While America feels conflicted, the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want. America's chance to choose is about to slip away.

35 girls entered the Selection. Only one can win.
The One is the third novel in the Selection series. The time has come for one winner to be crowned. When America Singer was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon's heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she'll have to fight for the future she wants.

I stumbled upon this book series while I was browsing my local Barnes and Noble Booksellers store. I had never heard of this author but I saw positive reviews for this young adult series. Curiosity won over, and I rented the book from my local library. I was deeply engrossed in these books! I love the protagonist, America Singer. She symbolically represents a true American Girl: kind, humble, altruistic, intelligent, creative, attentive, confident, brave, witty, and visionary. She spoke from the heart and followed her intuition. The color of the covers also hint the colors of the American flag (blue, red and white). I cheered for America even though her fear to let go of her past and embrace a once-in-a-lifetime future was daunting to read! I wanted her to make up her mind and admit her true feelings. It is so easy for teen girls to not want to take risks they may regret later but America Singer finally became forthright when she had nothing left to lose. America knew from hear heart whom she loved more. I am so happy that she found her happiness because she deserved it based on her actions during the Selection. I also learned from this series to be strong and courageous in the face of uncertainty. I enjoyed reading this series so far that I purchased the companion, Happily Ever After, which contains all the novellas!

Stay tuned for the next book in the Selection series, The Heir.