Kiera Cass’s Selection Books: The Selection, The Elite, The One was cheesy and fun to read. I borrowed the audiobooks from the library, so these were my to-and-from-work commute books and they were perfect for that.
The world-building was a little weak in the first book, but she definitely built it up over the course of the trilogy until I felt like I understood the world and how it worked. I never doubted Cass understood it, but in the first book there were hints of more which only left me a little confused.
America Singer at first seemed like a name from a lazy writer – but I have to give Cass props that in the end I was impressed at how well she made that name WORK for the plot of the book. It was crafty in ways I don’t expect of a young adult romancy novel. Still a little cheesy, but it’s written for like 15-year-olds. There are worse sins than some cheese.
The plot seems very straight-forward at first. Love triangle. Class struggles. Censorship. Girl thrust into threatening environment she doesn’t really want to be in… I expected to roll my eyes a lot (ok, I probably did – but not as much as I expected to). I will give it to Cass that I liked how she kept the main character in the “I don’t want to go home” until she decided she REALLY didn’t want to go home.
I also liked some of the lessons she covered: class warfare being addressed in a very non-threatening way. She addressed honesty in relationships and I think she did an excellent job of exploring a fairly feminist view of relationships without sounding preachy or diminishing the men in the novel.
I would have liked to have a bit more success in the Bechdel test side of things, but most of the characters were present to win their husband. So not surprisingly, this is a thing they discuss pretty regularly. You know, sort of a huge plot point in their lives at the time the book encompasses.
This is definitely a niche novel. It is not the sort of feminist book I think men should read, but women should. America spends a good bit of all three books worried about what she will do with her life – teach, sing, or be a queen (and how she would want to be as queen). NOT just “do I love him” or something stupid, but she genuinely wants a relationship that compliments her own choice – not defines it.
To anyone who read and enjoyed Twilight after the age of 16 – you should read these books. I think THIS is young adult romance done well.