I've always be a voracious reader. I'm not one to take my time, especially if the story line catches my attention easily. I binge read, book after book, I even used to be able to read multiple at a time. Up until recently however, life and my inability to focus has put reading on the back burner for me.
rowing up there wasn't a time when a book wasn't in front of me or on my mind as I went through my day. For the past few months I've read books here and there but I've struggled to read more than one a month. When I finally got around to picking up The Selection by Kiera Cass I just couldn't find it in myself to put the book down. The development of the story was incredibly captivating and the blossoming romance between America and Maxon kept me itching for more.
The story begins by introducing us to America Singer, a 17 year old girl living in a kingdom divided by a caste system. America and her family are labeled Fives and in this particular societal hierarchy ones caste determines ones career. America happens to be a musician (America Singer? Coincidence? I think not!) and her caste is among the lowest, Eight being the lowest of the low. There is also not much fluidity between castes.
As Prince Maxon is reaching the age of obtaining the crown, it is tradition for his Royal Highness to find a suitable wife. In order to boost morale throughout the kingdom, along with his inability to date like a normal teenage boy, the monarchy puts together a Selection. Each eligible young lady in the kingdom is sent a letter granting them the opportunity to submit an application to participate. Due to her secret boyfriend, Aspen Leger, and her less than willing attitude to leave her life behind America is adamant to decline the offer.
Much to her dismay, America enters and, even more unfortunate for her, is chosen as one of the 36 girls who will be a part of the Selection. Initially, America's attitude towards the entire escapade is completely and utterly negative. She has no desire to be there nor to interact with the Prince that she has made rash and harsh judgments about him prior to meeting him. But, due to a turn of events she ends up being the first girl to meet him and she makes her feelings on the entire ordeal very clear. Maxon is intrigued by her and surprised by his normal demeanor America strikes a deal with the Prince. She will be his friend, his confidant. She will provide the inside scoop on the other 35 ladies and Maxon promises to keep her there. This way she can be well nourished and provide for her family with the compensation she receives for participating.
For a while that's how their relationship was, strictly friendship, but as most love stories go, it got a bit more complicated.
Cass took a familiar concept( one leading man, 36 contenders...The Bachelor anyone??) and gave it a royal twist. Her ability to bring a story to life through the passion of her characters and the way in which their personalities shine through her words is astonishing, The flow of the plot line from one chapter to next, from the first book to the last kept me wanting more consistently. The most appealing feature of the story, was the foundation of friendship. That is how relationships form and grow and turn into something even better than you could ever imagine.
Both Maxon and America were dealing with their own individual struggles. Through the mind of America, Cass wonderfully portrayed the idea that no matter who you are, or where you come from, we all experience pain; we all suffer in our own way. It doesn't matter if you were born a King or the daughter of a poor man, we are all human, no one is exempt from misfortune.
"I don't know where people got the idea that characters in books are supposed to be likable. Books are not in the business of creating merely likable characters with whom you can have some simple identification with. Books are in the business of of creating great stories that make your brain go ahhbdgbdmerhbergurhbudgerbudbaaarr." -John Green
That has to be one of the best things John Green has ever said, because it is 100%, entirely accurate. Characters in books are not created to please you, they're there to challenge you and make you fight for the story you deserve. They're there to remind you to never ever give in, come up with your own conclusions and force you to think beyond the words in front of you.
Despite my complete adoration for this series, America was probably one of the most frustrating characters I've ever come across. She's passionate but she's careless, she's brave but her inability to decide what she wants will make you want to rip your hair out. She can be selfish, not thinking about how her actions, or lack there of, will affect those around her and yet she is very compassionate.
Although I've come to abhor the love triangle plot, I was pleased it wasn't a considerable aspect to the story as a whole. Although it caused some unnecessary drama and contributed to America's indecisiveness, Cass handled the situation smoothly. She succeeded in adding a small fraction of conflict while still giving her readers the ending that America deserved.
This was the first book series I've read in a very long time that's caught and held onto my attention. It succeeded in reminding me of my love for reading and it's ability to aid me in my ever present need to escape reality. Cass proved she has the innate talent to create a world vastly different from our own, build strong, flawed characters that test both you and themselves with every step they take, and how to mold a story over the course of a few books without losing the story line or the readers interest. Bravo.
Never forget the essence of your spark!