Release Date: 04/24/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
My thoughts on the book:
First of all, let me address the fact that I am aware of the drama caused by Cass and her agent when the agent decided to call a certain blogger horrible four letter names and insult her on twitter because of a bad review. I'm also aware of the follow-up that came where the agent insulted everyone who defended said blogger or disagreed with her rude and immature actions. Because of this, I never had a plan to buy the book. I will not support or condone that type of disrespectful behavior. Not everyone is going to enjoy something. If you can't deal with that, then you shouldn't be in any form of entertainment. A flimsy apology does not make this situation okay. If Cass had fired her agent, I would have had better feelings about this. However, she did not. She seems to be fine with her agent calling her readers obscene names. Well, I for one am not okay with that. If you want to see what happened, then click here and scroll down to comment #270.
Now, onto the book itself. I feel that my readers are mature enough and intelligent enough to decide for themselves if they want a book or not. This idea sounded interesting before the drama, and I figured that I'd give it a try and then give an honest review. If my readers decided to buy the book, then that's their prerogative. My job as a blogger is to bring honest and fair reviews of the latest books to my readers in order to help them make a decision about whether or not to spend their hard-earned money on a book. I hope my reviews do that. So, I requested this ARC because this was one of the most anticipated books of the year. I set aside my ill feelings for Cass not firing her agent and the agent's disgusting attitude and read this book like I'd never heard of any of the drama surrounding it. Luckily, I'm good at separating things. Unfortunately, I really did not like the book. Turns out I wouldn't have bought the book even without the drama because it just really did not agree with me. At least now I know I'm not missing out.
The main thing that stood out to me with this novel is that it claims to be a dystopian. It tries to be a dystopian. However, it is NOT dystopian. This is the most pathetic attempt at a corrupt society that I've ever seen. The reader's first taste of how "horrible" this society is was when America mentioned that they have no Halloween. WHAT?! NO HALLOWEEN?! THE BLASPHEMY! Okay seriously, if the society was that bad, I don't think anyone would be whining about no Halloween. Oh and a couple other holidays moved, which was apparently the worst.thing.ever. Other than the terribly upsetting and heartbreaking movement of holidays and the fact that girls weren't supposed to have sex until marriage, I think that the author was trying to focus on the caste system. Well, what country doesn't have a caste system? If you look me in the eye and try to tell me that America (the country, not the whiny character) doesn't have a caste system, then I will tell you to stop taking drugs and pay attention to current affairs. 99% and all that. We have classes, and it is incredibly hard for people to improve their class standing. That = a form of a caste system. But I digress. This is not a poli-sci course, it's a book review. So we have this not-so-bad caste system, a lack of STDs (probably) and no Halloween. Tragedy.
I mean sure, being told when you can and cannot have sex is a bit oppressive, but again, how is that different from our society? Girls get judged for having sex now. Guys don't. Wow. Cass really got creative with this one. Furthermore, the writing for this novel was juvenile at best. Every character acted like a 12 year old, and the plot was ridiculous. I'm pretty sure Cass just watched an episode of the Bachelor and decided to write a book about it. She may have even stolen the contract from the show to get ideas since the things asked of the girls (are you a virgin? Sign here to say the Prince can do whatever he wants to you when he wants to) sounds a lot like something Hollywood would come up with.
Because I didn't see the tragedy in any of this, I just could not get a feeling of suspense. The book dragged on for me. The pacing was fine, but the book just dragged because I was so bored. I also hated the characters (and their names... seriously wtf?), which didn't help matters any. Also, there was not much world-building. The environment Cass envisioned may have been much more terrible than the one she wrote down on paper. However, that awfulness did not come across, at least it didn't to me. More world-building may have caused me to enjoy this novel a lot more.
Basically, this book was not for me. It was too immature (keep in mind that I'm an adult reading YA literature. That may have something to do with it). I didn't feel like the society was really that different from our society. Things were just a bit more pronounced, extreme, and rigid. Seriously, it was no stretch of imagination to create a place like this. I also hate reality TV, and since this reminded me of the one episode I watched of the Bachelor, that just really did not appeal to me at all. I'd recommend this book to people who like reality TV (God knows there are a lot of them) and younger teens. The writing and story would appeal more to them.