In a palace of rivals, only one can win his heart...
I loved this book, I really did. Gorgeous cover, likeable heroine, swoon-worthy love interest, dystopian overtones, fairy tale content. It's like reality-TV The Bachelor meets Cinderella. (The book pitch laso mentions The Hunger Games, but I think this series is way too light and girly to be compared to the rebellions in Panem). Too bad it's the first in a trilogy and leaves you hanging.
Sixteen-year-old America Singer lives in Illea, a caste-divided nation born out of the war which devastated the United States. She's a Five and comes from a family of artists and musicians. Life is a struggle for them, but they make ends meet. It would be worse to be a Six (clerical workers), Seven (labour workers), or Eight (the homeless); but there's a big gap between her life conditions and those of the privileged One (the royal family), Two, and Three.
America is chosen to participate in the Selection, a reality show competition among thirty-five girls between sixteen and twenty to capture the heart of Prince Maxon and become his bride. America was reluctant to put her name in, and not very happy to be chartered off to the royal palace. She doesn't want to leave her family and her secret boyfriend Aspen. He's a Six, and they meet in secret, because women in Illean aren't usually allowed to marry a man from a lower caste. However, just before the Selection starts, Aspen breaks up with her.
Heartbroken, America has to face the fierce competition with the other girls in the royal palace, which is also threatened by rebel invasions. She captures the attention of Prince Maxon with her sincere and genuine attitude, even though, at their first meeting, she insults him. America tells him she is not romantically interested in him, but asks to stay in the competition in order to provide the prince with valuable inside information on the other girls. She suggests, in short, that they become friends.
Things go on and America finds herself getting attached to Prince Maxon, when (gasp) Aspen makes a reappearance. America needs to ask herself where her true loyalities lie; the attacks on the royal palace intensify; and Maxon has to choose a small number of girls, "The Elite", among whom he will find his bride.
This book was almost perfect to me. Almost, because the ending was way too abrupt. Not that there's a big cliffhanger, mind you. It's just that it ends there, without warning, and you're left incredulous, thinking, "Wait! Isn't there more?" Seriously, the second book can't come soon enough. Too bad we have to wait until the spring of 2013. That's entirely too much. (Wanna bet it's going to be titled The Elite?)
This book is marketed as dystopian, but those elements are very light. True, there is the chaste system, rebellions, and mentions of a war which devastated North America. But it's a lot more a fairy tale than a regular dystopia. So, if you like "girly" books but don't like dystopians, don't worry.
America is a very likeable heroine. She has spunk and a good heart. Maxon is totally fascinating as a prince. He comes off a bit awkward at the beginning, not very experienced with girls, but it makes him all the more adorable. He's also a good sport (he gets insulted for no reason by America and brushes it off, then gets a knee in the groin and still forgives her!) and tries to be a good governer. My heart melted when he set up a program to provide food to the poor after America told him about going hungry.
Aspen, on the other hand, I didn't like at all. He's a jerk and an idiot. When he gets upset because America cooked up a feast for him, I wanted to smack him. Even more so when he breaks up with her after realizing he will not be able to give her a comfortable lifestyle. His behavious at the palace is totally inexcusable. Doesn't he realize America risks getting executed for treason? Aaargh. I swear, when the maids almost surprise them together, my heart was thumping as wildly as America's must have been.
At this moment the love triangle is quite unbalanced in Maxon's favour, so I guess in the second book Aspen will do something to redeem himself, or something will happen to level out the field and keep readers wondering. Anyway, I have no doubt that America will get with Maxon in the end. Illea deserve a princess like her.
The Selection is set to become a TV-show by CW. Aimee Teegarden has already been chosen for the main role. She's very pretty, I suppose, although I had pictured America with darker hair. Ethan Peck has been cast as Prince Maxon and William Moseley as Aspen. I'm slightly perplexed, here, because Ethan Peck gives me a blue-collar vibe, while I find William Moseley very princely and noble looking. I'm not sure why. It might be because Ethan Peck was the bad boy and the rule breaker in the TV show Ten Things I Hate About You. Also, America decribes Aspen as very handsome, while she isn't particularly impressed with Maxon's appearance, and I think Ethan Peck is smoking hot. Of course, if he had played Aspen, I would've had to root for him, at least a little. Now I can be Team Maxon all the way! (see button on the sidebar). And I guess Moseley will make a fine soldier.
To make things short: I *can't*wait for the next book! I can't wait to see the TV show! Read this book is you enjoy fairy tales and romance books.Favourite quote:
Marlee (talking about Prince Maxon): "..funny laugh, but it's cute."
America: "Sure, if you like the lovable sound of an asthma attack in your ear..."
love it, love it, love it! My favourite cover in the books published recently. It might be the colour, the dress, or the reflections, but it's totally gorgeous. It has a dream-like quality, sort of. I've also found a slightly different cover for the UK edition. The picture is the same, but the background is light pink, as well as the title. Also, the sentence at the top is different. The hardback cover reads "35 girls. One crown. The competition of a lifetime", while the paperback "In a palace of rivals, only one can win his heart...". The first sentence highlights the reality-show aspect, while the second one hints more at the romance. I prefer the aqua background, and the second sentence.