Hey hey, fellow bibliophiles! Happy hump day/almost Thursday. I finally have a review to bring to all of you, aren’t you excited? When I started the journey with the books I’ll be discussing this evening, I thought it was a simple trilogy, but I found out there were many more stories involved and it took me longer than originally planned to get a review posted. Tonight, I’m going to discuss my thoughts on The Selection series by Kiera Cass. As I just stated, there are several books to talk about, so I’m just going to get to it rather than ramble. Here goes… Warning, there are a few spoilers ahead that are only in here because they couldn’t be avoided, so if you don’t want the plot of later books ruined, don’t read further that the review of The Elite. Read at your own risk! Let me start by saying, I didn’t get to any of the novellas until after I finished book one. Did I need to read The Queen (#0.4) to understand what was going on in the main series? Not particularly, but I’m glad I did because one, it settles my OCD with needing to read the complete works including any intervals and spin offs, and two , it was a pleasant intro to the concept of the main story. As I read book one, I was interested in the dynamic between King Clarkson and Queen Amberley, so I was thrilled to get this insight into how she survived her own Selection to be the king’s one and only. If anything, it makes me enjoy seeing them as the rest of the series progresses and we meet her son, Prince Maxon and see how his story takes shape. My Final Rating: four out of five stars
I gave The Prince (#0.5) three stars because it adds to the aspects of book one from Maxon’s POV, but as a story, it wasn’t needed.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t particularly care for repeats. For example, when I close up book one and there’s a sequel, I don’t want to get to said sequel and have it be almost verbatim the first book but from the other main character’s perspective. That’s essentially how this novella turned out. I didn’t hate it, but as a story, it simply wasn’t necessary. If Cass had gotten a bit more creative and given me something new in the overall plot or about Maxon’s life, I would have enjoyed it much more.
The Selection (#1), the series namesake, is where the story really begins. I won’t lie, these novels have been sucking me into their web for months and I finally got to them. Every time I went to Barnes & Noble, these covers caught my eye, plus, the plot seemed interesting enough, so I caved and picked up copies of the first two books to get started.
Take The Hunger Games, eliminate the need for survival, and substitute the need to grab the eye of the Prince of Illéa, and you have a competitive romantic dystopian fantasy. I’m not particularly a fan of dystopian literature. It’s simply not my thing, but the story of princesses, kings, and queens was intriguing and overshadowed the fact I was in a world I was nowhere near familiar with.
It is very much a YA or NA story, but I enjoyed the dynamics of the characters. America Singer has a duty to provide for her family who are Fives in the caste system of One through Eight (eight being the lowest and essentially consisted of the homeless). The longer she remains as part of The Selection of thirty-five young ladies to become Prince Maxon Shreave’s bride, the longer her family may prosper and benefit from their stipend. America’s only problem, is that her heart belongs to Aspen, a Six caste whom she has known since they were children together. When he breaks up with her for what he thinks is her own good, she decides to enter her application into the competition and change her family’s future for the better. Attempting to focus on Prince Maxon keeps her from focusing on her shattered heart.
It’s a futuristic idea of The Bachelor so if you enjoy a bit of a dramatic and budding romance with a splash of royalty and regal living thrown into the mix, you should read this story. It held my attention enough to keep the pages turning and wondering what would happen next.
Things in the competition of The Selection are heating up and the pressure is on in The Elite (#2). America is navigating her way through her rivals, and also through her own conflicted heart. With her ex, Aspen, in the picture as a Royal Guard assigned to see to her own personal safety, and Prince Maxon becoming a prominent piece of the picture, she’s torn on where she wants her future to take her.
The rebels from the north and the south of the kingdom are also revving things to an intense level. The castle the Elite girls are residing in along with the Royal Family are constantly under attack and sabotage due to upset among the caste system. Maxon’s decision in a new bride and princess could lead the world to new hope, or absolute destruction. He must choose carefully.
This story has a lot of back-and-forth, but if you’re up for the adventure for what it is with loads of drama, it’s an enjoyable and fast read. America’s fickle heart and indecisiveness is really annoying, but I have to keep in mind that she’s only seventeen, so any decision she makes is going to be monumental to her regardless of the outcome. In that aspect, I rolled my eyes a bit and kept reading. She has her past love and trust in Aspen, even though he broke her heart due to their separate rankings among society and his need to save her of poverty. Then there’s Maxon, the prince who is quite literally, charming and is willing to call off the competition, make her his queen, and shower her with love, fortune and affection. Although he confesses his feelings and intentions for her, it kills America to see him with the other six girls on his arm. Jealousy rears its head a few times which makes her choice even more difficult as to who she’ll marry. Until she makes her decision, Maxon and Aspen are left in limbo and must stick to what they know.
I really just don’t care for these filler books. The Guard (#2.5) is Aspen’s story. Yes, I get his perspective on things in the palace, and towards America, but it repeated segments of the same events I just read in The Elite.
Also, I’m not sure how I feel about Aspen anyway. Yes, he’s a good guy with a solid heart, but he broke America’s and encouraged her to enter this Selection to become the prince’s bride in order to have a chance at a prosperous future. Now he shows up as a member of the royal guard, and messes with America’s feelings all over again. He didn’t do it intentionally, but he also isn’t doing either of them any favors.
Out of all the novellas so far, I loved this one the best! The Favorite (#2.6) is the story of another Elite girl in the Selection, and America’s best friend, Marlee. Carter and Marlee were the sweetest couple who really stuck it out for love, even if they were technically committing treason against their king and prince.
Marlee was part of The Selection, and Carter was an esteemed member of the Royal Guard, but they couldn’t help falling for each other. Luckily for them, Maxon is a gracious ruler and spared their lives in front of the kingdom. When they’re caught together, the punishment is death, but Maxon does everything he can to have them caned in the town square instead before being sent away to live as Eights. While that outcome seems just as cruel, Maxon has his reasons that become justified later on in the story.
Their simple life was sweet to experience. It was lovely to know they found their happiness as a couple and didn’t need more than each other’s love and support to create a blissful existence hiding and working among the staff in the castle, even after they were supposed to be exiled.
Maxon’s meeting with the couple some time post-punishment redeemed their friendship and solidified a future for Marlee and Carter and their royal friends. I absolutely adored the presents they received from their king and how happy they still were whether they had nothing at all, or every prized jewel and fortune in the world.
The One is the last in the America/Maxon trilogy aspect of the Selection (#3). I know I was a sucker who was totally drawn into this series based on the cover art alone (hello, they’re stunning), but I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. When it comes to dystopian, if you know me, you know I don’t usually say things like, “enjoy” and “dystopian” in the same sentence. However, if you look at it as a fairy tale, all the elements are there (and then some) to make this quite an adventure.
America is one courageous young lady. There were several times in this story I willed her to shut her mouth to keep from getting in trouble, but I also cheered for her because she acted like the people’s princess, and did what was right over what was law, and I have to give her brownie points for that alone.
Maxon, as usual, is perfection. He’s born to rule, but his spirit is as wild as America’s, even if it’s more pent up in its cage. I could only hope she’d break down his walls more and more.
I still wasn’t a fan of the Selection aspect. I just wanted Maxon and America together already, but, he had to have his pick of ladies of the kingdom. This caused my heart to tear in two, because like America, I had to question the prince’s genuine sentiments. Was what he said the truth and from the heart, or was he playing a part for his kingdom to see?
It sucked that it took back-to-back tragedy to really make these characters realize their potential both on their own, and in their relationships. I was not expecting the invasions of the northern and southern rebels to turn quite as deadly as they did, so my heart was in my throat wondering who lived and who died. I met so many people in my time with the girls of the Selection at the palace, that I was nervous to see what happened to them when all hell broke loose.
On merits, it’s absolutely a YA series. There’s a sense of innocence throughout the book, but there’s also the constant lesson of finding your voice and being strong whether among friends or among adversity, so while aspects of the tale were a bit juvenile, I can’t fault it for keeping me entertained and teaching me some solid lessons on life and love even as an older reader.
I devoured these books. They were fast, sweet, adventurous, suspenseful, regal, and so much more, so I have no complaints as far as what I’m looking for in a great story.
I am left thoroughly confused and torn when it comes to The Heir (#4). Bear with me because I’m going to attempt to convey my thoughts properly. This story is part of The Selection series, however, Maxon and America are not in the spotlight. Instead, we meet their children, sons, Osten, Ahren, Kaden, and their eldest daughter (and heir to the throne) Eadlyn.
First off, massive cliffhanger that I’m not okay with… And I have to wait another month to get any answers or clarification. Until then, I’m left with heart palpitations wondering what the outcome will be… grrr…
I did adore Maxon and America twenty years down the line as King and Queen of Iléa. It was amazing to see them as rulers, partners, parents, friends, lovers, and more now that they’re more distinguished in their roles and still so deeply enamored with each other.
Thank you, Ahren, for being the voice of reason throughout this whole story. I simply applaud you. our twin sister is so damn stubborn and all all I wanted to do was shake her, so I’m thankful you stepped in a time or two and attempted to come to the rescue.
As far as Eadlyn is concerned, she’s nowhere near ready to be a future queen. Yes, she’s very astute and has an understanding of her future kingdom, but like everyone points out to her, she’s distant, too private, and seemingly too cold to get her people to like her and support her when her reign comes. Maxon is doing his best to groom her for the formalities of the position but she’s still too rough around the edges. I understand her frustration of not wanting her hand forced into her own Selection to find a husband, but when some of the boys prove they’re worthy of her, she either barely gives them credit or she’s so stuck in her old ways refusing to want love or marriage, that I can’t wrap my brain around anyone who actually still wants her. She’s quite bratty, spoiled, frigid, and cruel. She needs a swift kick in the pants and do some growing up before an entire kingdom is passed her way.
When it comes to the boys of the Selection, I have no idea who I enjoy more or what team I find myself cheering for. Several of them are worthy of the title to be Eadlyn’s husband and future prince to her monarchy. I guess I just have to wait until May to find out who the chosen one will be, and if everything from the cliffhanger plays out well. For my own sanity, I hope so.
*All novellas: The Queen, The Prince, The Guard, and The Favorite can be found in a companion novel appropriately titled Happily Ever After. They’re also available for individual download on the iBooks app.
Lastly, coming on May 3rd, 2016, the next chapter in Eadlyn’s life, The Crown. I was going to wait to review this series until after I had read the last book, but I figured I’d at least get the thoughts on the first batch down and bring you the conclusion in a few weeks.