The Selection by Kiera Cass is a modern girl’s nightmare. The premise is interesting enough in a Mills and Boon kinda way – the rich prince wants to get married and allows millions of girls to apply to be his princess. A sort of equal-opportunity marriage race in a dystopian disaster. It’s the reason I love YA novels; I can easily suspend disbelief in ridiculous plots if they are well written and plausible in a new-world-order kind of way.
Our heroine, America, is in love with Aspen (is everyone named after places?) who is too lowly to be a real hero so she allows herself to be persuaded by him to enter the competition in some macho “babe, you’re too good to not go for it” way and because he’s not worthy. She tells him how much she loves him anyway and how she already feels like his queen.
The writing is plodding. She’s been making out with her boyfriend for two years and claims how tricky it is to stop – “If we ever went further, and there was evidence of it”… wait? Does she mean, babies? The shock! If you’re gonna write about sex, write it, don’t paint a vague veil over it and make your heroine completely oblivious, grossed out, and horrified when a man comes from the palace to determine if she’s a virgin. Really? Is this for 5 year olds to understand? There’s an interesting article on this on BookRiot this week, about why YA novels shouldn’t sugarcoat sex. Didn’t everyone from my generation learn everything we need to know about sex from Forever by Judy Blume? I’m not saying you need to discuss sex at all (a lot of recent popular YA skirts around it, e.g. Hunger Games, etc) but if you do, please do it properly. Also, it’s so slow-moving (she meets the Prince half way through, who – wait for it – “looks like summertime”. Blimey.)
At times it looked like it had the makings of something really good. The chemistry between the prince and America is quite lovely but then our old hero, Aspen, comes back into the plot and the Prince gets kicked out because, wait for it, our old hero is now remade as a beefy, worthy-of-her hunk. I wanted her to have more self-respect. Plus it was only when I was three chapters from the end that I realised that the book doesn’t finish the story; you have to go to part 2 (there’s also a part 3) to get any closure. Could it be any more exasperating? Definitely not for me…
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