Sunday, October 28, 2012

Joint Review! The Selection by Kiera Cass

We both read The Selection by Kiera Cass and spoiler alert, we did not like it. Below is a quick summary followed by a late-night IM discussion of what we couldn't stand.

Genre: YA, young adult, castles, princes, dresses, pretty covers, dystopia, love triangles

Set in a dystopian future with a caste system, royalty, and something to do with a rebel force, The Selection is the story of America Singer, a whiny teenage girl in one of the lower castes in love with a boy in an even lower one. Drama! It gets even more dramatic when the kingdom holds a competition for any eligible young lady to compete to win the princes hand. America enters to spite her boyfriend who breaks up with her because he “wants a better life for her” and… *SPOILER ALERT* she becomes one of the “The Selected” to marry the prince. Now, a silly decision has her roped in to all sorts of activities that she’s just not interested in. She could care less about the prince, but changes her mind once she meets him because he’s just so darn nice and understanding. Who will she chose!? This is the first of three-part series by Kiera Cass.

Casie: So Laura. To start, what are your biggest issues with The Selection

Laura: I don't even know where to start. The writing was terrible; the plotline seemed hot glued together. Ah! My biggest problem was how much I hated the main character, America.

C: Agreed. She was a lot like Bella Swan in a lot of ways to me, an empty shell of character that somehow I was supposed to relate to, despite her being a nothing-person.

L: She had no discernible character traits, but she continuously disliked and spoke down to and about the other female characters, even the ones that were supposed to be her friends. She struck me as a really negative character.

C: Ugh that was the worst. It was like reading her insecure, but stuck up and pretentious, diary.

L: She was a character who wasn't "like other girls" because she didn't do feminine things and she was so brazen and honest. Instead of making her seem badass and cool, it made her seem petty and like you said, insecure.

C: America is that girl you know who says, "I just have a lot of guy friends. Girls just don't get me. "

L: "I'm not like other girls. I'm a Cool Girl"- thanks, Gone Girl, for the name of that girl.

C: Exaaactly. But the “Cool Girl” in this book isn't crazy, just a mean person who thinks she’s better than everyone else. That’s not exactly uncommon for YA, but it was so prominent it made America unlikeable to me. I think that ties in to what you've mentioned before that you were really aware of slut shaming while you read this too...

L: Yes. America has it out for this one girl who wears a lot of makeup and may have already had sex!!!! Aside from her cold attitude, there doesn't seem to be a real reason for America to hate this girl whose name I don't remember.

C: *gasp* Scandal!

L: Okay, besides America, what else did you not like?

C: Well. I feel like all the dudes in this story are like the personality-less princes of the early Disney days. Somehow, this story manages to move forward with a mean, petty main character, whose main love interests might as well be that nameless guy who finds Cinderella's shoe…
   who has like 3 lines of contrived dialogue.
Not to hate on Cinderella…
  but it is 2012 so there.
I don’t even think I could “pick a side” like many of us did with Peeta and Gale in The Hunger Games because I just didn’t know anything about these two male characters to even be able to justify having any feelings toward them.

L: The prince in particular confused me. He liked America because she tells it like it is! Complete with sass, but we don't see much of his personality. He is the prince, and he's supposed to be likeable- but aside from liking America and being very polite, what else is there? Do you remember anything else about him? Or his name?

C: No. Nothing at all except that he let America cry wherever she wanted. I guess he's nice.
  Dream man/prince charming = nice, I guess?

L: But if he's the prince of this dystopian world where there is this unfair caste system, shouldn't a likeable prince be trying to change that? Was he trying to change anything?

C: I really don't think so. He was only kind of against the caste system in a vague way, like it was something that "separated his people." He didn’t know anything about the outside world and only America could show him because of all her worldly knowledge, but all he did was sit around even when she “told it like it is.”
He didn’t ever seem really outraged about it when America told him her story 
All he did was be like, "Yikes that sucks, sorry bro. Better luck next time."

L: Haha exactly.
Aside from the caste system and the treatment of women, the society didn't scream dystopia to me.

C: Yeah actually the dystopian feature was mentioned, but never explained and therefore not really thought about.
  There were a lot more castles, princes, and dresses than dystopia

L: Which is fine- I like castles, princes, and dresses- but it just seems like it added the dystopia as an afterthought to jump on a trend

C: I guess a publisher/editor/author has to do what they gotta do. Fairytale trends and dystopia trends can be a hard stretch.

L: Okay, well, we're bashing on this pretty hard but we both finished it. What did we like about it?

C: I guess it was easy. It was a thoughtless ride that sometimes a girl wants, but not necessarily needs in her life. I did kind of have hope that somehow it would redeem itself, but I knew it was a 3-book series so I’m not really sure what I expected
  I wanted to like it.

L: I wanted it to be fun. I love fun YA. But I figured out pretty fast it wasn't going to get better. The writing wasn't good, but it wasn't so terrible it was unreadable. The pace was decent and kept things moving.

C: That's true. I read it pretty quickly, but I did set it down a few times so I had the chance to never come back. But I always did, YA addict that I am.
Just to disclose, I got this book for free from a panel I attended. We spent $0 on this book. I'm not sure I would recommend anyone spending more than that even if they did want to see what all the fuss was about.

L: Oh yeah no way. Borrow it from a friend or library!

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