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The Selection

The Selection - Review goes live on Book Brats on April 23rd. Visit http://book-brats.com for more details and reviews!I had plenty of initial reservations about reading THE SELECTION, I admit that – certain online fiascos and a plot that I felt somewhat iffy about. But I decided that the other part of me, the part that wondered if this book might possibly charming and a take on reality dating shows that YA has yet to show, was too hard to resist. So I requested this book on Edelweiss and loaded it up onto my Kindle, insisting to myself that the reviews from authors that I trust and like and other reviewers would be right, that I would love this book.Maybe I should listen to my first instincts better, because in all honestly, I really did not like this book. It’s not particularly well written, I was completely apathetic to the characters, and I just was only compelled to know if maybe the story would have a dramatic twist to keep me reading. And even that never happened.THE SELECTION is the story of America Singer, a 16 year old girl living in Illea, the remains of the United States after World War 3 and the takeover of the US by the Chinese, then the Russians, then being saved by a private citizen named Gregory Illea who turned the country into a monarchy and installed himself as King. America has been Selected from caste Five (artists, singers, etc – very lowly and poor in this universe) to compete for the hand of the Crown Prince, Maxon, in a reality-style competition between 35 teenage girls. The winner becomes the future Queen of Illea. Except America has a secret… She’s in love with a lower caste boy named Aspen.Okay, so THE SELECTION has been described as THE HUNGER GAMES meets ‘The Bachelor’. This is not a very far off assessment. It’s like an idea that someone would come up with if they were reading THE HUNGER GAMES while watching ‘The Bachelor’ and thought that marriage to a prince would be a be a better prize than simply making it out alive (don’t worry, no girls are killed, although dresses are ripped by jealous girls and there is backstabbing). It’s an interesting concept, but part of me expected there to be more cameras, more formalized dating, more rose ceremonies and limos and crying confessionals. Instead, the reality element was left to once a week for the girls to sit on stage during a news broadcast, but other than that, nope.I feel like this entire story was a missed opportunity. It had the chance to be a striking take on reality television, the divide between economic classes, the role of women in society, and instead it went the route of fluff. It would have also worked well as fluff, but there was little fluffy about it. Angst, angst, a stereotypical villain (rich girl who insists that because she is rich she is entitled to everything), and a little more angst (woe is me, I have two hot guys who want to marry poor, plain old me).America was not a character I could find myself cheering for. She seemed to have little personality other than being meek and (as I’ve mentioned) angsty, dragging two boys around by the nose because she’s unable to choose. And the world she lives in isn’t much better – there are plot holes about the caste system, the history of Illea, and the foundations of the Selection. A great deal of this book came off as superficial, from the writing style (nothing frilly, just basic, everyday writing) to the characters, few of whom had any personality or substance. I wish we had gotten to know more of these characters, but having 35 girls, many of who are named only to disappear into the woodwork, makes this impossible.Maybe I wished for too much out of this one. While it wasn’t a baaaaad book, it wasn’t good. It was really just…meh. Clearly written with THE HUNGER GAMES in mind, it fails to accomplish what it might have set out to do, which makes this story highly disappointing. With plot holes and boring characters and a really awkward question about virginity followed by the girls being advised to do whatever the Prince asked of them (you know teenage boys), THE SELECTION isn’t a book I will recommend. It doesn’t go for hard hitting or for satire or for fluff, it just stays in the safe zone of boring for the entire length of the story, and safe isn’t good enough.VERDICT: Even though it had a great deal of potential, this story falls flat with shoddy world building, boring characters, and dull writing. Instead of rising to the occasion such an interesting plot could present, it remains safe and boring.