The Selection Book Review

James Beacham, Writer

The Selection follows character, America Singer, a 16 year old middle class musician who lives in a dystopian America, known as Illéa. The government has set up a strict caste system with eight tiers (with tier one being the highest), and America being on the fifth tier.

She has a secret love with a member of a lower caste, but she can only meet with them after the national curfew. She reluctantly signs up for “The Selection,” a process in which one girl from each of the 35 territories is randomly selected to compete for the heart of the prince and for the title of princess. She signs up for the selection because her secret boyfriend, Aspen, wants the possibility of better life for her. This ultimately results in the couple breaking up. Forgetting that she is still entered in the selection, America contemplates her experience with Aspen. However, when America’s name is drawn to enter the selection, she becomes an instant celebrity.

Upon reaching the palace, America has the misconception that Prince Maxon is arrogant and spoiled. However, she stays in the competition so her family will get financial compensation for each week she stays at the palace. She is absorbed into luxury as she is fed the best food, given maids and stunning clothing. America, used to lower class life, becomes conflicted with the luxuries of the palace. This leads to her becoming hysterical on her first night and gaining the desperate need to go outside. While the guards refuse to let her go outside the palace, the heroic Prince Maxon escorts her out. During this, Maxon realizes that America will never love him. America realizes this, and in a desperate attempt to keep her financial compensation, she gets Maxon to agree to keep her in the competition as a friend.

While this friendship starts off rocky, it later becomes genuine. They create special signals for when they want to talk to each other, and they eventually gain a relationship that Prince Maxon doesn’t share with any of the other girls. Later, the girls are struck with reality when a group of rebels attack the palace. While most of the girls become frantic, America stays calm, impressing Prince Maxon. This leads to a development in their relationship. However, when Aspen is brought to the palace to be a guard, their relationship becomes much more complicated. The book ends with a huge cut in the selection and the competition becoming fiercer and fiercer.

Reading this book was probably one of the most unique literary experiences of my life. I was challenged by my peer leader group to read a book that was aimed “towards girls.” Whenever I was seen reading this book I always had to explain the reason on why I was reading it. This book definitely exceeded my expectations. It started off slowly for me, because I had very low expectations. However, once I started to see the flaws developing with America’s and Aspen’s relationship, I became intrigued. It has many well organized conflicts and a very good cliffhanger ending. While this book may be preferable for girls, it is a solid gender neutral read in my opinion!