Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection by Kiera Cass The Selection by Kiera Cass
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 327
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: ★★★☆☆ 
Buy It: Amazon | Book Depository

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. – Goodreads

The Selection by Kiera Cass is many things, but one thing it is not is a dystopian novel. Labeling it as such only creates high expectations about the world building and I felt that The Selection’s attempt of a controlled society was very flimsy. Yes, there was a caste system, rules for the country’s citizens, and — gasp! — rebel groups, but they all came across as superficially inserted into the story; they served no purpose except for proving that dystopian is the thing to do in the YA market at the moment. Every time there was a mention of the different castes, or a “threat” from the rebels, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes because it lacked so much depth and Kiera Cass did not explore any themes with her world.

So what IS The Selection? I thought it was a light read that heavily focused on the competition of 35 girls vying for the affection of Prince Maxon. It had the typical mean girls, pretty dresses, makeovers, and gossip. I wish more time had been spent developing the girls, and perhaps their provinces at the same time to flesh out the world of Illéa, but it was still easy to get swept into their drama.

As far as characters go, I thought America was a little bland. Kiera Cass attempted to make her a strong lead, but I didn’t really get that from her character. Still, she did have her likable moments and I can appreciate the fact that she’s trying to figure things out for herself. For the love interests, Prince Maxon easily wins as my favorite. Aspen was whiny, insecure, and a bit of a jerk, so no thanks! Maxon had his faults, but he came across as a much more open minded, sweet guy. Plus, he’s a prince and who doesn’t love a prince?! The rest of the characters were either not developed enough for me to have an opinion or, in the case of America’s maids and some of the other contestants, they sort of blended together.

The Selection is the first in a series and Kiera Cass definitely left me hanging. This is probably one of the worst cliffhangers in recent memory and it’s not because I’m anxious to find out what’s next; I simply think The Selection had a complete non-ending. What was that?! As it is, I’m not sure how this particular story will be expanded into multiple books without feeling dragged out, but I guess we’ll see!

Though I obviously thought there were some shaky aspects to The Selection, I did enjoy it quite a bit. I was into all the drama of the competition and America’s growing friendship with Maxon was a highlight. The ending was aggravating, but I’m curious to see how Kiera Cass will continue on with the story. I’ll definitely get around to reading the next book.

On a side note, who else is planning on tuning in for the CW show? I fail at watching television, but I want to see how this translates on screen so I will tune in for at least the pilot if gets picked up!

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About the Blogger

Stephanie is 20-something. From Los Angeles. Gryffindor. Professional procrastinator. A repeat button abuser. And many other things. You can find her on twitter. You can also subscribe to the blog!


  1. Awww, Stephanie, so sorry it was a bit of a fizzer for you… oh, this dystopian thing? Seriously, it sounds more of a fantasy… and it’s a shame it wasn’t explored as well as it could’ve been.

    Ugh, I gotta tell you: non-endings? KILL ME. My number one frustration. I GET cliffhangers, fine. But when I read 300+ pages of a book I want to get to the end and feel a little satisfaction. I feel kind of ripped off, otherwise :(

    Ah well, we shall see, it sounds. SUCH a gorgeous cover, but it’s a shame about the let downs :(

    • This is really one of the worst endings ever. It honestly felt like it left off mid-sentence. I’m all for wanting to keep readers hooked for the next book, but not when this book, on its own, is so incomplete. Sigh. Hopefully the next book will be better on that front!

      Thanks for the comment on the layout! :)

  2. Uh, also? New design! PRETTY! ♥♥♥

  3. I think I’m going to fall in love with Maxen, just by the way you describe him.

    As I suspected, this one isn’t one to be judged for its dystopian qualities, because it really isn’t, and, like you said, it just sets up for disappointment when it doesn’t deliver in that department. I’m going to treat it as a light, almost contemporary or fantasyish read with a love story being the main focus, because THAT’s the part I’m going to be focusing on anyway. I’m relieved to see you liked it for other qualities and it wasn’t a total bore. Puts my mom at serious ease.

    • Oooh, yes, I think you will! He’s full of goodness and charm.

      That’s a great way to look at it! As a dystopian read it doesn’t stand a chance against my expectations of themes and world building, but as a fluffy romantic read? Yes, it definitely works and I wish it had been promoted more in that vein. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

  4. I’m really not sure if this one is for me or not… the lack of development with worldbuilding and characters really puts me on the fence, because they’re the two main things that hook me in with a novel. And I’ve never really been into the whole Bachelor thing… BUT at the same time, part of me is intrigued enough to watch the tv show. Maybe because it’s CW and Brodie likey CW shows? Hmm, I’m glad you still enjoyed it and that might actually be enough to encourage me to read it before the tv show, if it makes it to screen.

    And hello gorgeous cover, I want you on my shelf! Awesome review, Steph!

    • I know how you feel. A lot of other reviews, not to mention the drama surrounding them, had me feeling wary that this wouldn’t be my thing AT ALL while the idea of a TV adaptation had a certain pull on me. I wish there had been more depth to the story, but it still had its share of enjoyable moments that I think will translate for a fun show…hopefully. I’d be curious to see what you thought if you did end up reading! So…this is my push for you to do it! ;P

  5. There’s been so many mixed reviews – mostly low ratings – for this book and it’s hard to decide whether to read it or not. I’ll still go into this book and hope it’s enjoyable . . . but I guess we’ll see. Anyway, it’ll be interesting what the CW company does with this book . . . sure it will be interesting. Anyway, nice review!

    • Yes, some of the reviews were definitely off-putting for me, too. Though I do think the criticisms are valid, the book had some good moments when it wasn’t trying to take itself too seriously. I hope the CW adaptation focuses on those things instead of trying to replicate The Hunger Games or another dystopian series.

  6. I’ve seen quite a few mixed reviews for this recently. I read another review that called it Bachelor-esque and honestly I hope it’s half as drama filled as that! If all these girls are vying for one guy I’m expecting some cattiness.
    I’m not thrilled that there isn’t much backstory on the characters (maybe there’s just too many?) but I definitely want to see the growing relationship between America and Maxon. And I’ll be looking out for the show too!

    • Oh, definitely cattiness ahead for you! I wish some of the characters weren’t so stereotypical, but I thought it was fun to read about the process of competing for some guy. I hope you enjoy it! :D

  7. Thank you so much for your honesty, Stephanie! I’ve heard quite a few mixed things about this book so far, so I can’t wait to read my own eARC and see what I’ll think about it. I’m a bit scared of this (non-)ending, as I hate books that don’t give me even a tiny bit of closure. :/ But I guess I’ll have to see for myself.

    Great review!

    P.s.: Totally adore your new blog design. Soooo pretty. ♥

    • Haha, I looked over the goodreads page for the book and it’s insane how divided everyone is on it. Understandable, especially considering all the drama, but I’m looking forward to seeing more opinions pop up soon. I hope you do get some enjoyment out of it!

      Thanks, Carina!

  8. I totally shouldn’t have read this since I just started it this afternoon but I couldn’t resist. I had to see if I was nuts (NOPE, not yet!). I guess I ought to reserve final judgment until the end of the book but at least so far, I’m nodding my head in solidarity. :)

    Great review!

  9. Okay, this settles it: I’m not going to read this one. I was maybe a little on the fence earlier, thinking that maybe if I could only keep an open mind and treat it as a light and fun read, then it might be okay, but after reading this, I’m pretty sure it’s not the book for me. But thanks for the review! Very helpful.

  10. I’m super curious about all the mixed opinions on this one! And I didn’t know it was gonna maybe be a TV show that could be interesting. Great review!

    • Haha, there’s certainly a wide range of opinions. I hope it works well for you! And, yes, it has a pretty cast so far. I’m curious to see how it will turn out.

  11. You confirmed my suspicions about the book. The cover is so pretty and the premise got my attention, but ultimately I’m not sure if it’s for me. I probably will check out the tv series though – can’t resist those CW shows. Awesome review, Steph!

    • Those CW shows really do have a knack for sucking us in! Perhaps the premise will work better in TV form and then push you towards the book to compare. I do hope it works out better for you!

  12. It seems like The Selection is definitely bringing out a lot of different opinions! I just reviewed it myself and was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it. I can’t help but feel we’ll see more of the world-building and rebels as the story continues though, so I’m definitely curious to see what happens!

    I can agree that the ending wasn’t the best one, but at the same time it worked as a cliffhanger for me without making me frustrated at it.

    It’s interesting seeing so many different opinions on this one! Great review. :)

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