The Selection takes place in a dystopian future, 300 years from 2013, according to the author Kiera Cass. Most of the book takes place in the Palace of Illea, although in the beginning, the setting is in the main character America’s home in Carolina. A war happened for unclear reasons as history records are forbidden in Illea, and because of it, North America became Illea, a country with 8 castes, based on financial situations. America Singer is from the 5th caste and is the point of view we see from the book. America was chosen as one of the couple thousand girls to audition to become part of the Selection. The Selection is a competition between girls who are sent to the Palace of Illea and are narrowed down until the Prince chooses one to be his wife. America’s mother wanted her to join the Selection because she believed that she was beautiful enough to win the Prince’s favor and so that her family would be elevated to a higher caste. She was accepted as one of the girls in the Selection and was sent to the Palace of Illea. She originally does not want anything to do with the Selection as she is in love with a boy named Aspen, however, she ends up going despite that. Aspen is in the 6th caste, making America and him hide their relationship from her parents since they wouldn’t approve of her marrying down castes. It was also a strain on their relationship. America and Aspen end up breaking up before she leaves because Aspen is convinced that she wouldn’t be happy with him since he’s from a lower cast. America leaves to Illea, however not before she sees Aspen and someone else in a compromising position, and she gets to the Palace heartbroken. She meets Maxon and starts a friendship with him, since she did not want to go back home.
Maxon is the Prince of Illea, he is the man that all 35 girls of the Selection are fighting to marry. He is interesting as a character because he has a very different view of the world than America, who has a more pessimistic view, since she lived in poverty. Marlee who is another girl from the selection, is very kind and has her own problems which is nice since that means her character doesn’t revolve around America. Celeste, who is from the 2nd caste and is also in the Selection, could be called an antagonist of the story, as America doesn’t like her and they are constantly at each other throats. Celeste’s character is basically the stereotypic mean rich mean girl and doesn’t have any reason to act like she does besides the fact that she is rich and wants to be richer. I think that she is one of the least developed characters in the book, which is a shame because she plays a pretty titular role. Aspen is prideful and is a lot like America, which creates problems in their relationship early on. I appreciate that even though he is a character that isn’t seen much in the story, that he has clear characterization and all of his decisions are backed up with good reasons that keep in line with his character and give us more insight into him as a person.
Kiera Cass writes in the point of view of America, therefore the writing isn’t very sophisticated, as America is just a teenager. However, she still does write America with sassy humor and the occasional deep thought. She writes romances very well in my opinion and gives layers to a character instead of making them one or two dimensional. While her language isn’t anything special, I do like her style simply because of her well-made characterizations.This book is something I would recommend to teens who appreciate a good romance with varying subplots.
Book Review by Paola Chavez