Thursday, May 17, 2012

Book Review: The Selection

Author: Kiera Cass
Series: The Selection #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April
Pages: 327
Source: ARC from the publisher
Read it in: 3 days
Summary: 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 the palace and compete for the heart of the 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.

LC's Take

[**NOTE: This review was not affected by online drama or controversy. Everything I have to say here is based on my own personal opinion about the book itself, even though I definitely think Cass needs a new publicist.]

[**NOTE #2: All the captions in the non-animated picture memes were made by me-- because, you know, I'm just THAT brilliantly witty. So please don't use them without asking my permission first. Thanks :)]

35 GIRLS. 1 CROWN. THE COMPETITION OF A LIFETIME.

Now with a story premise like that, honestly I thought it would take a lot to ruin this book for me. 35 girls all competing for one crown and the heart of one handsome prince? Sign me up and bring on the popcorn! However, The Selection turned out to be one of those unfortunate books that had about twenty-dozen little things in it that just aggravated the crap out of me, with the end result being that I was entertained by it for all the wrong reasons.

So first, a word about love triangles. I honestly don't mind them IF they are done well. But in this case, the love triangle was SO freaking forced, cliche, and angsty, I was ready to tear my hair out strand by strand. The whole thing between America, Aspen, and Maxon was just completely ridiculous, and the motivations behind their actions made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There were so many instances of juvenile misunderstanding, miscommunication, etc. that I'm not even going to bother going into specifics. All I have to say is: STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE LOVE TRIANGLE HAPPEN.


Moving on, America as a main character was just about two steps away from being completely intolerable. She was-- to put it simply-- extremely annoying (Highlight, underline, and bold extremely). I *might* have been able to stand her if all the little things that were supposed to make her seem like a fun and feisty redhead hadn't come across as painfully redundant and irritating. For example, she denies ad nauseum that she's beautiful even though she clearly is. She makes constant quips and remarks about the stuffy life that Maxon leads and he finds it to be cute (it's not). She's got the whole cliche tom-boy thing going on while every other girl is a Stepford clone-- It was just like, OK, I get it, she's one of those totally-gorgeous-but-she's-the-only-one-who-thinks-she's-not girls. And ironically? She stands out in the story because she's so "different" from the other girls, while simultaneously being about as cliche as they come.


As for the rest of the girls in the book? Well, let's just say that added to the exasperating America Singer, this book just made me hate girls. For real. Even more than ANTM.

And the guys weren't any better. Probably because they were about as manly as:


Sexy, right?

Prince Maxon was seriously one of the most awkward characters I've ever encountered-- and not in that adorable, hott kind of way either. In typical Disney prince fashion, he was so perfect and nice that I couldn't even take him seriously. He bored me to tears and was overly-sheltered to the point of being pathetic. And his behavior? It made NO SENSE. Let's review: America wrongly assumes that Maxon is about to rape her-- then she proceeds to knee him in the royal jewels-- then he pretty much brushes it off like a day later and goes back to let's-be-best-friends-because-I-don't-have-any mode. Seriously dude? I've never watched The Bachelor, but I'm pretty sure that if some strange girl told the guy that she had zero interest in him, that she was in love with somebody else, that she was only there for the food (no I'm not making this up) AND THEN wrongly accused him of being a rapist, I'm going to take a **wild guess** that he would've kicked her out of the mansion on the spot. I mean, that's a pretty serious way to offend someone, no?


But then when America tries to explain to him that Celeste the Biotch is sabotaging the rest of the girls, he throws a hissy fit, being all like, "YOU WILL RESPECT MAH AUTHORATAH!" -- and almost sends her home. Whhhhhaaaatttt???

Then there was Aspen, the chauvinistic jerk-wad who gets his panties all in a bunch when America tries to make him dinner and then immediately bails on her because he can't handle the helpless, little woman being the one providing for him. The guy seriously needed to grow a pair.

Another beef I had with this book was that I couldn't find any context for the kind of society that America Singer lives in. HOW did Illea come to be the way it is? What major events led up to the creation of a society where there's a monarchy, an eight-tiered caste system, and two different groups of rebel forces trying to bring it down? And why again was The Selection created?? (Vague explanation: it creates hope. okaaayyyy...) And don't even get me started on "The History Lesson" that was randomly thrown in, because it made absolutely NO SENSE (The American State of China? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA). Apparently there was a Third and Fourth World War where the US was invaded by China and then Russia because it couldn't pay off its massive debt. Riiiiiiiiiiight... Explain that one to me, please. In a nutshell, the "history lesson" that attempted to establish the world of Illea explained nothing.

So for me, it was difficult to find a connection to this world because it wasn't built on any solid foundation that would have made it remotely believable. And I'm sorry, but if a book can't manage to adequately explain how a society came to be and what the motivation is behind the ones leading it or trying to tear it down (**cough, cough** Matched! **cough, cough**), that for me is a major dystopian FAIL. In the end, I just had to take Illea for what it was-- a make-believe fairy-tale kind of setting that had no plausible explanation for why it exists or how it came to be.

Now if the long-awaited, delicious drama of a 35-girl competition had actually happened, I really wouldn't have cared about the absence of a thought-provoking dystopia. But where the heck was the crazy competition part of the story?? That whole Bachelor spin-off was the number one reason I was looking forward to reading this book in the first place! And the entire thing ended up being one big, sloppy mess. There were some random acts of cattiness and backstabbing, a few girls got kicked off, a few dresses got ruined, but hardly anything was explained and there was little to no build-up or suspense. What happened to--


Not only was there no drama, but I honestly couldn't have cared less about who got kicked off and who stayed. Note to the author: If you aren't going to even bother telling your readers WHO your characters are, WE AREN'T GOING TO GIVE A CRAP WHEN THEY GET BUMPED OFF. We have ZERO investment in them. So faceless, never-before-mentioned Girls #1, 2 and 3 got the ax? Umm, yeah don't care. No shock value. And Celeste the spoiled little rich girl? C'mon now, she was one big glaring stereotype and had about as much personality as a thumbtack. It was boring!! And one of the girls was named Tiny. I'm sorry, but how can I take a book seriously with character names like Tiny, Tuesday, King Clarkson, and Maxon Schreave? (Answer: I can't.)

So for me, the only thing that this book had going for it was that it was *mildly* entertaining in a mindless kind of way, and there was nothing about it that made me want to seriously punch a hole in the wall. But the rest was either very confusing or highly predictable. Everything from the characters, to the love triangle, to most of the outcomes of The Selection were all very easy to see coming from miles away. I'm sorry, but I really couldn't find anything about this book that was terribly exceptional or interesting and overall, I just wasn't impressed.

After this, I think I'll be picking up a book about killer dragons. Or bioengineered war beasts. That really sounds like a good idea right about now...

~Cover Talk~

The cover of this book is clearly eye-catching. But what I love about this book isn't the dress-- in fact, I think the dress is rather hideous if I'm going to be completely honest (sky-blue tulle ruffles?! Um, eew).  I actually love the graceful pose of the model on the cover, how her arm comes up to hide half of her face (even though Cass from Words on Paper observed that it looks like the chick is sniffing her arm pit which made me laugh) and I also like how you can see just glimpses of the other girls from The Selection in the background behind her. To me this is a really intriguing cover, and it definitely made me want to pick this one up, which... in hindsight... didn't work out all that well for me, but just the same, I am rather fond of the cover.

LC's Rating:
2star review
This book just fell flat as a pancake for me. The "dystopian" society had no context, the characters were stereotyped to death, the story was sloppy, and I couldn't make myself care about anything that happened in the competition. In the end, it was mildly entertaining, but nothing I'm going to remember in another month or two.

30 comments:

  1. Awesome review. I made the choice not to read this one when all the drama went down, and it seems like I am not missing much by making that decision. I had a feeling this one wouldn't live up to the hype, good or bad. It seems like dystopian world-building details aren't even important anymore because this is what is selling right now. UGH.

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  2. Hi Lea! Wow, that's one hell of a boring book...I hate weird named and stereotyped characters too...How were you able to even finish it? I salute you for that.

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  3. I was laughing at all your pictures and your review! ;) This does sound like one very cliche book now. I have it on my Kindle, but I don't know if I'll actually finally get to reviewing it. But then again, I'm a horrible reader and I like a bunch of things no matter what (I don't even know why I'm a book blogger) so I guess I'll have to see whether this is a really horrible dystopian or not. But that bit where America kicked Maxon sounds so funny. :)

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***

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  4. Great review! Even though I am sad that it disappointed you. I had this on my TBR pile and now I am kind of skeptical about even opening it up :( Thanks for sharing. Hope you are having a great week!

    Chelsey@Charming Chelsey's

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  5. Ah! Funny review. I always find it hard to find a dystopian with a good world explanation. I absolutely can't stand dystopians either if there is no solid foundation.
    I love love triangles where i find both guys/girls actual possibilities and like all the characters.
    Love all the pictures used throughout! :)
    Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

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  6. Hm. And this is the book CW is developing a series on (and comparing to The Hunger Games)? The former is the only reason I'd give it a second look, and based on this, I'll probably just skip it unless it shows up as a nook freebie sometime.

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  7. While you didn't enjoy the book, I laughed hilariously with your clips. Made it fantastic for me. Its on my list. I am going to commit to it.

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  8. I chalked this one up to a guilty pleasure, cause I loved it - when usually everything you mentioned would have really bothered me! I must have read it on the right day or something lol.

    As for the cover, I don't think it's different contestants, I think it's the girl's reflection, from different angles.

    Funny review!

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  9. LOVE the graphics for this review! I loved the futurerama one! Sounds like the author kinda put the history in there as an afterthought, because I agree with you it really doesn't make that much sense. If a dystopian has a strong world you don't always need an explanation of how they got that way (mind you I still wonder) I totally want to know what happend to North America that resulted in the nation of Pannem.

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  10. Haha nice review. I've seen a lot of talk like this and also some really raving blurb. So I'm honestly torn! I want to read this book to find out where I stand. But I can probably see how your claims justify. And nice graphics. Love Willy. :D

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  11. LOL.I actually enjoyed this one but even I thought the love triangle was a little forced..I guess it would have been a little more realistic if people had been a little more competitive :)

    LOVE THE GRAPHICS


    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

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  12. I didn't think about it that way, with the cover. And yeah, that dress is frumpy as heck all.

    I love this review! My favourite part was when you started talking about the boys and how Maxon was accused of being a rapist but was just like "Hey let's be friends" the next day. What a laugh! Glad you were able to find entertainment out of it, even if it was of the wrong kind. :P

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  13. Hah, love your review. :) But omg. I am now regretting buying this book :( I do have the hardcover. I tried a few weeks ago to read it; got to 8 pages. Couldn't stand the writing :p And reading what you have to say about it all; I'm pretty sure I would HATE this book. So, yeah. I will keep my book, but I'll probably not read it. :) Thank you. <3 ;)

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  14. I've been debating rather to read this or not. I'll probably just stick to trying to get it from the library.

    Old follower

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  15. It sucks that you didn't like it if you loved the premise...hate when that happens!

    Aspen annoyed me too, even though I loved the book...I mean, what a jack ass.

    Maybe you'll like the tv show though...they typically keep the premise and change everything else.

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  16. I actually enjoyed reading The Selection but, I have to say, I might have had more fun reading your review! :) You made me laugh out loud! And I love the Dawson gif. Hilarious. Awesome review!

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  17. LOL. I love the images. :)

    The Selection wasn't especially impressive. I gave it a three because I did enjoy it for a mindless read, but Cass should step it up. And also not be rude to critical reviewers (or have her friends do it or whatever).

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  18. Too bad you didn't enjoy this book -- haha it's my favorite of the year! But your points do make sense, and I found your review entertaining :)

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  19. I really like the cover of this book too! I really want to give this a shot but since there's been many mixed reviews, I don't really have any expectations. Thanks for your review (loving the pics)! :D

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  20. Hey Lea. Sorry you didn't like this book. It has gotten a lot of mixed reviews. It's not for everyone. I liked it but...

    BTW I loved your pics I liteally laughed out loud :P

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  21. Your review is hilarious! I'm still flipping back and forth between getting the book or not. It seems like there are two extremes- people either loved it or hated it. I'm not sure if I'm going to take the risk on buying it (at least not as a hard cover) and might just borrow to see how it goes. Either way, I do think the cover is stunning! Awesome review Leah!

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  22. This is such an awesome review! I burst out laughing on several occasions. I think I'm going to give this book a pass as, just like Cass, I can't get over the fact that the cover model looks like she's sniffing her armpit too! That was one of the first things I noticed about the book during the whole publicist controversy.

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  23. Oh my gosh, the Boromir still and caption is freaking HILARIOUS. Nice job Lea:)

    Sorry the book sucked, but kudos for sticking it out. I probably would have DNF'd it.

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  24. Hehehe...your post was a blast to read. I actually enjoyed this novel, yep it was light and fluffy and i rrolled my eyes at the girls and love triangle. It felt more like a cinderella retelling then a dystopian. Thanks for the laughs and sorry you didn't enjoy it.

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  25. Aww God. I couldn't stop laughing because of the pictures. Anyway, i want to read this soon. Now there is a mixed review of this it's keeping me at the peak of reading this or not.

    Great review! :)

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  26. Lol, Lea! Awesome review... You had me silently snickering at my desk :P and OMG the Boromir pic and text is so freaking funny!! You are such a genius. Seriously. Anyhoo... I don't think I'm gonna read this, not only because of Cass' horrible agent, but because it actually doesn't seems that good. -.- thanks so much for such an honest, witty, brilliant, hilarious review!! :)

    xox
    Riya

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  27. This cracked me up! what a great review! I haven't read the book only because the premise turned me off a little. Oh funny dystopians!

    Beth ^_^
    http://sweetbooksnstuff.blogspot.com/

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  28. Ahahaha I loved the graphics!

    Even if I completely don't agree with this review, I STILL LOVED READING IT. It entertained the heck out of me because I can imagine what your frustration must've looked like. And, frankly, those graphics are KILLER. Love the Lord of the Rings one! That was just amazeballs.

    I'm so sad that The Selection didn't work for you. I nearly love it!

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  29. Nice review! i love the cover but the story never appealed to me either.

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  30. I so 100% agree with you! Only I gave it 1 star, not 2... :$
    xo

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