Date Read: December 13 2012
Release Date: June 7th 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Synopsis: "For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for 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.
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."
Like practically everybody that's read The Selection, I wanted to read it because of the gorgeous cover. Luckily for me, I didn't have particularly high expectations since I've read many other people's reviews.
I think I'll start by saying this book has a lot of potential as my friend Mariam put it. I generally liked the story and some of the characters but there were just too many things I disliked to make it anything more than "ok".
It only took me like 4~5h to read this in one go and each turn of the page felt like a guilty pleasure: the book itself wasn't that great but it was insanely addictive in that I really wanted to know what happened.
Let's start with the bad because I like getting the icky stuff out of the way first:
- I didn't really feel the dystopian side of it. Everything was too light and not as bad as they should have been?
- The writing was a bit immature for my liking. It wasn't due to lack of complex/descriptive words but more that the syntax wasn't sophisticated enough and the semantics not as in depth and symbolic as other books I've read.
- The romance between Aspen and America was so fake. Everything seemed so forced I don't even know how to explain. Maybe it was just me?
- Aspen was an absolute jerkface. Everything he did seemed fake and a front. He didn't seem selfless at all, rather his actions all seemed calculated, selfish and filled with way too much pride. He SEEMED to care for America and "love" her but I'm sorry I just didn't buy it. Him being "thoughtful" of her and their future just didn't seem that thoughtful. And the way he was being "responsible" and doing the best by America just seemed so FAKE. Yes I used the word fake here way too many times but honestly there's no other way to describe it. Fake/unreal/forced/imitation whatever synonym used there's no denying what it is.
- And now proceed extremely long rant where I go into detail how FREAKING SIMILAR TO THE HUNGER GAMES THIS BOOK WAS:
-- Each caste had a particular role/specialised in a particular industry. E.g. Fives (America's caste) were artistic and I think it was Fours that were agricultural. Ahem sound like the Districts much? But a lot cleaner? This is what I mean by the dystopian side of it not coming through. Being forced into art just doesn't seem as bad as being forced to mine I'm sorry.
-- Aspen looks a helluva lot like Gale. Both have dark hair and are devoted to their families and their sole provider - "man of the house" without a father present. Like Gale, Aspen doesn't show how much the girl he loves means to him until it's too late
-- Maxon is blonde like Peeta and both are protective of the girl they care for
-- America enters the Selection and stays because of the money it would provide her family... woah doesn't that sound familiar?
-- Gavril Fadaye sounds a lot like Caesar...
-- May is the adoring, gorgeous little sister. OMG DID SOMEONE SAY PRIM?
-- America acts 'herself', she's the most natural of the selected girls and isn't afraid to speak her mind. Hrmmm I know of another dark haired heroine who wasn't afraid to speak her mind either...
-- Katniss' gown of red fire when she went on her interview with Caesar made her stand out... OH LOOK AMERICA'S IS RED AND SHIMMERY AND MAKES HER STAND OUT AS WELL WHEN SHE'S INTERVIEWED BY GAVRIL... Ok maybe I'm nitpicking here but seriously I couldn't overlook that
There might have been other similarities. I swear as I was reading this I wanted to get out my phone and just jot them down but I couldn't be bothered - wasn't worth my effort.
Also some of the names were just plain wtf. Tiny Lee is actually Tiny. Who names their kid Tiny? And Bariel um what? Sounds like barrel. America I'll accept I guess. But Aspen? Skiing anybody?
That's a shitload of bad isn't it?
So now onto the good:
- I liked America's voice throughout this. Even though she reminded me of Katniss a lot, I liked her honesty.
- The connection between Maxon and America was cute. It wasn't instalove thank god but was slow and even America isn't sure of what she feels for this inexperienced prince.
- Maxon's character seems genuine. His sheltered lifestyle has led him to not understand many of the more intricate details with regards to relationships. Actually any detail really. It was adorable seeing him try.
- There were more serious and pressing issues than just the prince looking for a wife. A new vulnerable country at war is always a problem: I would have REALLY liked this issue to be explored more. Not from the perspective of just seeing raids and screaming girls but some actual political juice!
- I'll admit the Selection itself was pretty exciting, I liked seeing what girls had what qualities and would have liked this explored further i.e. what each girl listed as her talent that could have possibly led her to being picked but hey this'll do
- The King and Queen are mysterious characters that leave room for exploration; the reader begins to question their intentions (well I did)
Overall, I WILL read The Elite just to see how things turn out. Guilty pleasure as I said.