I noted in my April Book Haul that one of my many reading moods right now- they honestly alternate on a daily basis – is catching up on YA series I’ve ignored reading over the past few years. In The Selection’s case, this read has been 8 years in the making. I would also like to again note that I purchased The Selection the night BEFORE the Netflix film adaptation was announced – because yes, while this book came out in 2012, I need to claim some sort of book hipster status. Blame it on my newfound interest in The Bachelor and in Kiera Cass’s 2020 release, The Betrothed, (not to mention my need for binge-readable books right now) for finally picking up this YA classic. The Selection is YA dystopian meets The Bachelor, as the main character, America, competes with 34 other young women to be the Crown Prince’s heart.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I still can’t get over the fact that I didn’t read The Selection until 2020 because I was absolutely obsessed. Yes, I definitely have more reading time because I’m not at school and not hanging out with friends, but I still managed to read this one in less than two days while working on two final presentations and projects. I now completely understand what all the hype is, as I could not seem to put this book down at all. I ordered The Elite and The One before I even finished the first book. It was a complex enough world to explore without being difficult to understand how the country came to be – it was both interesting and scary to read how the U.S. transformed into Illéa. I’ll honestly mention The Hunger Games a few times in this post, but the interviews with The Selected reminded me both of Caesar Flickerman & THG and Chris Harrison & The Bachelor.
I also loved the drama (while also of course hating Celeste) and all the royalness – seriously, give me descriptions of the palace’s gardens and pastries all day. The Bachelor comparisons definitely hold true. Is America my all-time favorite protagonist? Absolutely not. I enjoyed reading the book from her perspective, but her love triangle absolutely has to go. And it’s not even because I’m sick of the love triangle trope- frankly, it was the flashback to The Hunger Games/Twilight era trope I needed and haven’t read in a while. I just do not understand what America sees in Aspen, and if you need to know, yes, Maxon, became one of my new book boyfriends by the end. However, I did like getting to see America’s character come out, like her passion for music, care for her family, and how she’d probably make a really great queen- I really want more interaction between her and the Queen in the next two books.
The Elite by Kiera Cass (Book #2)
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I did read a book in between The Selection and The Elite, but I couldn’t stay away from the next book in the series for too long. The Elite raises the competition between the girls and truly meets its Bachelor comparisons. I mentioned above that America is certainly not the most perfect protagonist… and that definitely holds true in The Elite. Does Maxon do some questionable things in this book? Absolutely! But I’ll never understand why America keeps going for Aspen. I don’t understand what America sees in Aspen as a partner and more importantly, why she continues to do so when (without too many spoilers) someone gets punished for basically doing the same thing. Okay, maybe I do understand, being that for some reason we all love a good triangle, and yes, I did get stressed out and kept turning the pages to see if the two would get caught.
Why did America also annoy me to no end? She can’t make a decision for the life of her! I totally see how both her and Maxon are wrapped in this mind game that is basically The Selection, but I see why Maxon was getting frustrated and trying to get to know the other girls. I don’t think Maxon is my favorite YA love interest ever either because (fine I’ll have some sympathy for America), I can’t decide if I love him or hate him. I do think things with Kriss and America are going to get ugly in The One. I realize that complaining about the main character might make it sound like I didn’t enjoy The Elite, but I still did. The royal dynamics and rebellion get more complex and interesting. I also just really want the Queen to have her moment and go off on her husband. I’m more invested in the setting and the plot and yes, what does happen between Maxon and America.
The One by Kiera Cass (Book #3)
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
I read some Goodreads reviews for The One immediately after finishing it and was so surprised to find that most of my friends said there that The One was the favorite book in the series. Personally? The One was my least favorite installment.
I think The One features a lot of build-up, but doesn’t really leave readers with answers, and the conflicts are ‘solved’ faster than the time America spent agonizing over them. What’s one main issue I’m not talking about here? HER SECRET RELATIONSHIP WITH ASPEN THAT TOOK 500+ PAGES OF BOOK FOR MAXON TO LEARN ABOUT THEM. We all knew that this wasn’t going to go well and that it likely wouldn’t go the way America hopes for… but I still held out hope that it would be better. I also hate how it’s never really solved, thanks to an attack on the palace, which leads me to my next biggest issue.
Each book builds up the rebellion and accompanying conflicts, with the most action happening in The One…. but we’re left with no real solution or insight after what happened after the final attack on the palace, I also hated how we learn towards the latter half of the book that America has closer ties to the Northern rebels than she realized (again, don’t want to be too spoilery), and it just felt so thrown in there. There was no point for America to realize that she had seen the rebels’ symbol everywhere and that some of the characters we’ve known over the three books are rebels themselves. I think a lot of this should’ve happened in The Elite so The One could have better handled and solved the rebellion. I knew that there had to be other conflicts within The Selection so it wouldn’t just basically be The Bachelor meets YA dystopian… but I honestly would’ve been okay with that fluff alone! If the rebellion remained as a part of the story, I think the first two books should’ve focused on The Selection, with Maxon’s partner selected by the end of book 2, and book 3 could have been about the wedding and the crown vs. the North and South.
I didn’t completely dislike The One obviously, because there was something about this book like the others that made me finish it in less than two days. I considered picking up a different book in between The Elite and The One… but needed to know how it all ended immediately. I think the characters and plot do need some more fleshing out, but the overall plot and setting are quite enjoyable. I found myself caring less about the individual characters (except America’s maids, loved them!) and more about ‘what happened next.’ If you’ve read the first two books but not The One just yet, it may be a surprise to learn that Celeste was actually my favorite character. I was never crazy about Aspen and America together, but I also don’t think that Maxon is the best book boyfriend ever either. In my opinion, he was nearly as secretive as America was, and I did understand America’s frustration with how he was getting to know the other girls (which is also another reason why I’ll never go on The Bachelor).
Overall, if you haven’t yet checked out The Selection yet and want a book series you can fly through in a week (or less), I recommend reading it. Just think, you’ll be able to impress all your friends since you read the book before it hits our Netflix screens! It’s definitely not the most perfect of reads, but the story is just so addicting. I could see myself possible reading the sequels, but would borrow them from the library rather than buy my own copies. I’m also interested in picking up Kiera Cass’ latest release, The Betrothed to see how her writing has evolved over time.
Have you read The Selection? What did you think? Are you excited for the Netflix adaptation? Share in the comments!