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Book Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Hello Readers & Friends,

I have just this very moment finished reading The Selection by Kiera Cass. I had seen a lot of hype about this book as a 'guilty trash' series on Bookstagram. You know what I mean - not great YA like Leigh Bardugo but not terrible YA like those airport chick-lits you find.

SO, I have a very mixed review. I went from a 2 star rating in the first few chapters, to a three star around half-way, to a four star by the end?! (Explanation on how I give my ratings here.)

Let's start with what wasn't so great.

- It's more on the young side of YA than the adult side. America seems very childish and the dialogue is borderline boring, the characters very 2D and stereotypical. (The sweet best friend, the mean bitch, the devoted maids etc.) Someone on Bookstagram told me they put the book down after the first 3 chapters and I'd urge them to go back - I didn't like the first few chapters either but it changes quite quickly.

- It's painfully predictable. I kept waiting for a twist that never came. But then, I suppose that's the thing with guilty-pleasure reads. You know what you're in for and that's why you're guilty for reading it - there's nothing complex or intellectual about it. You're reading for pure enjoyment.

- It's basically a more boring rip-off of The Hunger Games. Young people pit against each other in a competition, large-scale broadcasting of the competition, tactical public performances etc etc. Complete with cute little sister that the protagonist must protect at all costs.

- At the start in particular, America is very boring. She's just all about being noble and in love and there's no oomph to her character. Also the name America makes me cringe so hard.

- The world-building is confusing. The history classes are a nice touch to try and help explain, but if this is set in the future, why is it so old-fashioned and technologically behind? That they don't even have phones? And that they seem to believe that men must provide for their woman? It has undone all the liberal and democratic work that our world is working towards, but is meant to be set in the near future? It seems strange and backwards. There's not nearly enough 'showing' descriptions rather than 'telling' either.

- The use of every single annoying YA trope that exists. They have the token mean girl, the segregative society caste system, the love triangle, the confidante best friend, the 'not-like-other-girls' protagonist, the government rebellions... it's like the writer took the best part of all the most popular YA dystopian series of our era and smushed them together to make a kind of crappier, girlier version with less death and more kissing.

- There's literally no diversity at all. No LGBT, no colour, no nada.

OKAY. Deep breath. I know I made it sound terrible. But by half-way, I was hooked. Here's what I did like:

- It was so easy to read. Painfully easy. It was quick, required no thinking, no nothing. Just good, honest enjoyment of the storyline.

- I really, genuinely like America and Maxon's relationship. I'm totally rooting for them! It's genuine, it's been built on a really transparent and honest foundation and they complement each other really well. Aspen is an asshole who only cares about being the man of the household and I can't really be arsed with his unfeminist ways and his reckless behaviour.

- I like the mystery behind this secret object that the rebels are searching for.

- I love the friendship America builds with Anne, Mary and Lucy.

- I like the guilty snog scenes.

- I like the way exactly what I expect to happens, happens, but it still is written in an entertaining enough way that I want to keep turning the page. It's like Scooby Doo. You know at the end the bad guy will get caught, take the mask off and say 'I would've gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids', but it's still nice watching the journey to get to that point. That's how I felt with this book, I genuinely enjoyed taking in every scene and the journey getting me from A to the ever-so predictable B.

To conclude, this book wasn't picked up by myself because I thought it was going to be a masterpiece, like Six of Crows. Yes, I would love it if suddenly we found out that Maxen was gay, or that the maids were plotting to ruin America, or that Marlee gets the Prince in the end. But that would go against it's nature as a 'fluffy' YA read.  I picked it up because I knew it was going to be a fun, lighthearted, guilty-pleasure read and that's exactly what Cass delivered. In fact, I can't wait to continue reading the rest of the series (come onnnn Payday!) because even though I already know how the next couple of books will (probably) go and how the series will (probably) end, I'm enjoying the journey there.

Have you read The Selection? What did you think?

Love, C x


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