Jun 8, 2015

The Selection, by Kiera Cass

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 14+
Issues of Violence: mild
Intimacy Level: Heavy kissing
Language: d*mn h*ll
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover Blurb:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime.
The opportunity 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, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. 
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she begins to realize that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.  

Initial Reaction: *****
I’ll confess. I bought this book because of the pretty dress. 

I resisted for a couple years — admit it, that takes strength. But then I gave in. I NEEDED. THAT. DRESS — (I mean, that book) —  ON. MY. SHELF. I gave in and bought it, then didn’t touch it for a few months.

Why? Because I heard it’s like the TV show, The Bachelorette and I hate hate hate commercialized relationship. I hate the shallowness and the drama and the…*deep breath*…okay never mind. You get it. *puts soap box away*

But then I got in a weird girly mood (that’s not normal for me…I had the flu. I blame it on that.) and I finally pulled The Selection from the shelves. 

I read it in 24 hours.

Oh yeah, and I ordered the next two books before finishing the first one.

I loved it. It was more like the Biblical book of Esther than it was about the Bachelorette. 

Characters: *****
I loved America. I didn’t think I would — I thought she’d be fickle, annoying, too fiery, and heartless. But she’s fresh. Even when she does cliche things like befriends the crowd (when no one else does) it flows out of her naturally instead of feeling forced. 

Maxon, the prince, was brilliantly non-cliche! Like America, I’d built in my head what he would be like. I also guessed how the author might make him “unique” (which would still end up being cliche) but she didn’t do that either. I was pleasantly surprised by his character. 

I will admit that the side characters blended together a bit. But how can they not when you have 35 prince-hungry girls all vying for the same thing? 

Plot: *****
The plot is…simple. You basically get all the major threats and players through the back cover blurb. I thought that’d make the book boring, but instead it left more room to focus on the development of characters and the romance aspect (which is a huge portion of the plot.)

The Romance: *****
I hate love triangles, almost as much as I hate things like The Bachelorette. And, like every typical YA novel, there was a love triangle in this one. I’m sure there are #teamAspen and #teamMaxon fan hashtags out there. BUT, for the first time, this was a love triangle I could believe. I understood America’s situation, I understood her struggle, and I might have done something similar in her place. Also, both men are admirable in their own ways. 

My favorite aspect of the whole romance side of things (which, when you break it down, is the majority of the plot) was communication. The characters communicated! Even if America wanted to bottle something up, she preferred to be honest, to be open, to be real which is the ultimate message of this first book.  

Language, Violence, and That Other Stuff: 
The violence was basically nonexistent. It was hinted at during some rebellion in the nation. There were stories of violence (attempted rape), but it all remains very subtle and tame. I have a feeling that will get a little heavier (but still age-appropriate) in later books.

The language was very very mild. All I noticed were a few uses of d*mn and they didn’t bother me. 

Sex and intimacy was something I wasn’t sure about at first. America and one of her love interests have some very passionate make-out sessions. It doesn’t get too graphic (it’s YA for goodness’ sake!) but they certainly get “close."

However, it’s delivered in a very natural way as a struggle for the teenagers. America finds herself questioning what’s right, what’s wrong, and how she feels about such a big decision. The culture she lives in requires, by law, abstinence until marriage. So, just like every natural temptation that bends the rules, the teenagers have inner battles. I’ve read only book one so far, but the author is handling this aspect of the romance very very well. 

Spiritual Content: *****
From the start, I noticed some Christian undertones. It finally pushed me to look up the author and, lo and behold, a fellow believer! There aren't spiritual messages in the writing, but there are some good core messages about self-worth and the content is clean.

I’ve given The Selection a 4.5-star rating. Now, if you watch my ratings, you know this is rare for me. But I was so surprised and engrossed in this simple YA book that I think it deserves it — both because of how the author handled my pet-peeves situations, and because I consider it 100% age appropriate.

The plot may be simple, but I’m ready to commit to all four books. :-)

I’m excited for the rest of the series! 

Have you read it?

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Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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