Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

In honor of the latest Netflix TV series announcement, I decided to reread one of my old middle-school YA favorites: The Selection.  When I was younger, I saw this book as a comfort read with its “ordinary girl becomes a princess” fairytale.

Now that I’m rereading it 8 years later, I’m still comforted by the romanticized plotline, but I’m also much more aware of how trashy and cliche this book is (It’s almost a rip-off Hunger Games). 😂💖 If you’re looking for a kickass dystopian novel, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for the book version of The Bachelor with some royalty, you’ve come to the right place.

THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass

PUBLISHED BY HarperTeen (HarperCollins) on April 24th 2012

GENRES: Dystopian, Romance

PAGES: 336

ADD TO GOODREADS // 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 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. 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.

The Selection is set in a “dystopian” version of the United States called Illéa where the country is run by a monarchy, and society is organized by a caste system. 👑 Ones are the wealthy and respected royal family. Twos and Threes are the wealthy aristocrats. Fours through Sevens are various trade workers and servants while Eights are seen as the lowest of the low. 

Our protagonist, America Singer is a 17-year-old Five who is chosen to join 34 other girls to participate in the Selection, a competition to win the heart of Prince Maxon Schreave and become the princess of Illéa. (AKA it’s The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor) After entering the competition unwillingly after insistence from her mother and long-time secret boyfriend, Aspen Leger, America is uprooted from her happy mundane life and thrust into the royal spotlight.  

“True love is usually the most inconvenient kind.”

Like many other YA novels published between 2008 and 2012, The Selection is filled with all your classic tropes: the “she’s not like other girls”, “the mean popular girl who wears too much makeup and shows too much cleavage”, “the love triangle”, and more! 🤪 Depending on what you’re hoping to get out of this book, these cliches may or may not be for you. 

The crux of this story focuses on the budding romance between Prince Maxon and America so unfortunately, all the other characters do come off as fairly one dimensional (though I will acknowledge they show more depth in Books 2 & 3). For example, Marlee is the bubbly best friend, and Celeste is the bitchy mean competitor.

Initially, Prince Maxon also came off as a flat love interest, especially in comparison to Aspen, but as we progress throughout the story, we see him gain more confidence in himself and show genuine care for his subjects and his country. His conversations with America help him become aware of his privileges and the positive impact he could leave as the future king.

“I hope you find someone you can’t live without. I really do. And I hope you never have to know what it’s like to have to try and live without them.”

I can see why many people would dislike this book because the writing can come off very juvenile and the major plot points throughout the book have been seen and done before. I honestly thought it was very easy and fun to read. However, my biggest problem with this book is how similar it is to The Hunger Games which came out 4 years prior. 🤔

Part of me genuinely wonders how much inspiration Kiera Cass took from Susan Collins because there are virtually identical plot points. From the numeric caste system to the eccentric reality TV show announcer to the innocent younger sister, it could almost be the same book just set in a different “world.” 

During America’s image transformation scene when she arrives at the palace, it feels so similar to Katniss’s transformation when she arrived at the Capitol…down to having a spunky stylist (Cinna) who determines they should highlight her “natural beauty.”

Ultimately, I wouldn’t call this book a dystopian novel. There’s no political analysis, government upheaval, and no determination to transform the country (at least in Book 1). If these are things you want, I’d highly recommend reading the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu. 

The Selection is truly meant to be a princess version of The Bachelor down to the periodic cuts to the “Does he love? Does he not?” moments. If this sounds like something you’re willing to indulge in, consider picking up the book before the movie release. Otherwise, I’d suggest putting your time to another book instead. 

“No, I’m not choosing him or you. I’m choosing me.”

In the meantime, let’s check out this terrible script of the TV show when it was first optioned for production (then failed):

 

my reaction to the above script O_____O”

Have you read The Selection?

What were your thoughts?

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41 thoughts on “Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

  1. I’m still surprised that the “pilot episode” was like that. I’m so glad they scrapped the show because that goes against what Young Adult is, unless they were trying to appeal to adult audience more. I’m a little glad that Netflix picked it up, but I still wish that they would pick up more diverse novels by marginalized authors instead of books in 2012.

    I agree that this book wouldn’t be considered a dystopian book. There’s nothing dystopian about it, and its basically the Bachelor meets the Hunger Games

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    1. I know!! I can see them changing things to be more “mature” and “sexy” to appeal to an older audience, but it really changed everything about his character and the books!! I feel you I wish they would adapt something like Legend if they had to pick an older book too.

      I still enjoyed it and find it to be a guilty pleasure, but it’s so funny to see how ridiculous it is too. 😂

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  2. Netflix announcement?? I totally miss this! I saw the first script making rounds on book twitter and I can’t believe they wrote that (as with everyone else lol).

    I didn’t remember much of this as I read it years ago, but I remember enjoying it. I also remember loving Marlene, Celeste (💔), and Aspen. I didn’t notice how similiar it was with THG, but I remember being annoyed of how the beautiful covers spoil the story haha.

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    1. Yeah!! They announced it a few days ago 💖 I know I honestly could not believe how out there they changed it!

      Ahh yeeess i love the side characters and seeing them grow throughout the story! 😍

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  3. Ahaha Tiffany your review is so on point and WHAT is that script, but I’ll probably check out the Netflix adaptation. I read this ages ago too and I remembering loving it when I first read it but I think with hindsight it wasn’t that great.

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    1. HAHA Thank you for indulging me and reading my review!! I’m definitely excited for the Netflix adaptation and let’s hope it’s not as OUT THERE as the script 😂 It’s definitely a guilty pleasure read for sure!!

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  4. I agree that The Selection feels more like a princess version of The Bachelor than a dystopian novel. It’s especially apparent in book two, where there were many opportunities to explore the dystopic nature of the world. I enjoy The Selection for the light, fluffy romance aspects, but not for the intense plots and social commentaries that I’ve come to associate with the dystopian genre. Though I can see the Hunger Games influence! (And OMG I’m glad the original production failed.)

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    1. Ooo you’re so right!! I didn’t want to include too many spoilers for the later books, but while there’s talk about government change, it’s not the main focus of the book. I really like the romance and drama more too. and I KNOW IT’S WILD 🙈💖

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  5. Lovely review, Tiffany! Oh my word, it’s been a while since I’ve read any blog posts, but your reviews are a joy to read as always! Haha. I have similar thoughts on this book. While it has a fun futuristic-Bachelor like setting, I just couldn’t get into the character. I wonder if I might have enjoyed it more if I read the book when I was a lot younger. The parallels to the Hunger Games are also way to similar to be coincidental. And that script is WILD! I’m quite glad that original production failed. Haha!

    I hope you’ve been doing well, doll! ❤

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    1. ahh kelly!! i’ve missed you 🥰 thank you so much for reading my review!!

      i definitely still hold fond memories of this book now because i read it when i was younger so i wish that you had the chance too!! maybe still pick it up because of the netflix adaptation?? we’ll see!! and I KNOW isn’t it so far from the actual book??

      i hope you’re doing well too!! i’m excited to catch up with you 💖

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  6. I love this so much, Tiffany! I’m definitely looking forward to what Netflix is going to do with The Selection. I pretty much have the same story as you with it- I read it in middle school, loved it then, probably wouldn’t love it now, but I feel like I’d still enjoy it, especially since I’m not expecting anything life-changing out of it. I feel like it will such an entertaining show, though, as it does have some pretty adorable moments and lots of drama! (Also, I remember loving Maxon.)

    …WHAT is that script, though?! I’m very glad they aren’t going with that.😶

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    1. Aww thank you, Olivia!! It’s definitely still a guilty pleasure read, and I hold fond memories of it because of the romance…but it’s definitely not a perfect piece of literature LOL It’ll definitely make for an entertaining show though!! 💖

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    1. HAHAHA well I’m so glad that you enjoyed my review, Charvi!! This was definitely sooooo deviated for the original plot 😂

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  7. Ahh I love your review so much Tiffany! I remember really loving this series when I was younger, but I know if I reread it now, I wouldn’t enjoy it just as much ahah. Still, I can’t deny I’m curious about the Netflix adaptation… here’s to hoping it will be good! 🙂

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    1. ahh thank you!! it’s definitely still one of those trashy feel-good books, but i’m really excited to see how adaptation turns out!!

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  8. I remember picking this up sometime after starting Hunger Games and Divergent and mostly enjoying them. I just never got America’s boyfriend. I stopped after three books though because I was happy enough how it ended and felt like everyone hated the fourth book. It has been forever and now I kinda want to reread the series.

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    1. ooo i agree i wouldn’t continue with the heir series because it really wasn’t that good in comparison!

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  9. If you’re looking for a kickass dystopian novel, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for the book version of The Bachelor with some royalty, you’ve come to the right place.

    Oh my god lmao, this sounds ridiculous.
    I never read this series and I’m quite sure I wouldn’t enjoy it now, but I am glad you still enjoyed it on reread even though you couldn’t unsee the plot similarities. That script… it’s… priceless.

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    1. LOLOL it’s definitely A WILD RIDE…and I STAND BY WHAT I SAID. I’m here for the romance…not the action 😂

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  10. I AM BLIND, I had never noticed with such attention the similarities between THG and The Selection! But it makes so much sense now! (love the gif, best barbie movie) I would probably hate it if I re-read it now (or strongly dislike it) but I was absolutely trash for it when I first read it. I think I’m still gonna give the show a try, tho. But definitely *not* with that script, wth happened for them to write that xD Anyway, great review Tiffany! 😀

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    1. LOLOL THANK YOU!! And honestly I agree 🙈 It is such a guilty pleasure read, and I’m so excited for the upcoming series!!

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  11. aGH I’m SO EXCITED for this adaptation haha. I know that objectively it’s trash, and if I read it for the first time now I would probably hate it, but this is like my one guilty pleasure read and I will continue loving it for all its flaws forever. I’d never noticed just how similar to Hunger Games it is with the TV show announcer and little sister wow my life is a lie… but I will continue defending it lol. Also that script… wow that was a shock and I’m very glad it failed….

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    1. ahh me too!! i know it’s such a guilty pleasure read, but i’m really excited to see it get turned into an adaptation. and omg i know just imagine what that would’ve been like 😂

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  12. I’m really excited for the adaption of this and hope it’s good! With a TV show we get more total screen time so hopefully it won’t be awful 😬😂 But YES THANK YOU. As soon as I read this book I was like, “Peeta is Maxon! America is Katniss! Aspen is Gale!! WHAT’S GOING ON???” Since I adore THG I was a bit put off. But I actually liked this series more as it goes on. (And fun fact, my mom was friends with the author in college! 🙂 )

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    1. AHH RIGHT?? There are so many similarities! I still really enjoy the series as a guilty pleasure read though. and OMG THATS SO COOL!!

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  13. Your reaction to the script for the TV show is my exact same reaction 😂 I have no idea what the writers were thinking lmao!! Also, I have a complicated relationship with this book, and I have so many memories attached to it. I discovered it because my sisters bought the series and were reading it, and I really wanted to read it too because the idea of winning a prince’s heart was so appealing to young Caitlin. My mom found me with a copy, and she banned me from reading it until I was older. 😂 Well, apparently I was a rebel back then, because I started ~secretly~ reading the books after I came home from school. I was completely entranced by them, and technically, they’re the reason I discovered the book community. I would never have discovered Goodreads and BookTube, and subsequently, book blogs, if I hadn’t gotten into the hobby of looking The Selection up online :”) I carry no love and nostalgia for this series now, but it’s super funny to me that I probably wouldn’t be here if I’d never gotten temporarily obsessed with it

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    1. HAHA I’m glad that we thought the same 😂 AWW that’s honestly so sweet, and I’m glad that you found the book community through this series!! I honestly still hold this series fondly because it’s such a great guilty pleasure. ❤️

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  14. I thought this book was the epitome of literature when I was in middle school 😂😂 Me and all my friends obsessively read it and a few years a go I tried to do a reread and finally realized how trashy and cliche is was. And that scriptttttt. Good lord, when Netflix announced that they were adapting it I went and watched the clips from the old trailer 😣😣 oof it was bad.

    I loved this review and all the nostalgia that it brought! I can’t wait to see what Netflix does with the book!

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    1. HAHA I thought the same 😭 It was so fun and such a cool plotline but it’s definitely such a guilty pleasure read now!! and whAT there was an old trailer?? I need to check those out!!

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  15. I LOVED reading this series. Which is funny because I hate The Bachelor, but oh my gosh did I eat this series up! I can’t wait to see how everything plays out on the big screen. I did see that original script and 🤐🤐
    I’m definitely going to have to do a guilty pleasure reread when the series comes up on Netflix!

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    1. HAHA I feel the same way!! I never watch The Bachelor but I loved this series so much! It’s such a guilty pleasure 🙈💖

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      1. Right? Like I don’t like The Bachelor because it’s vapid and all the girls are catty and I went to an all-girls school, so like I want to be far away from that – aaand I’d dive happily into The Selection book and tv series 😂

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  16. I read The Selection in April and I honestly can’t decide how I feel about it?? I kind of loved reading it but at the same time it wasn’t my fave so I’m not sure. I ended up DNFing book 3 because as much as I was so!! keen to know what happened, I just got too impatient😂 I totally missed the Netflix announcement though so I’m interested to see how they adapt it!

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    1. Ahh I know just how you feel!! It’s a guilty pleasure read book but it also isn’t super AMAZING or literary greatness 😂 I’m so excited to see the Netflix adaptation now~

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