I can’t imagine why someone would buy a book based on the picture on the cover alone, but apparently after reading several reviews from Amazon, quite a few people have done just that and yet each of them seem to complain that the contents inside the book was nothing like the picture itself on the cover.
I however read what the book would be about before buying this book and I also read about 40 of the reviews, which after reading the book I think most were really unfair.
If you can get past the parts of the book which were obvious and blatant rip offs of The Hunger Games and the names of the characters in the book which apparently many people found annoying, then at its heart you have a good story.
There is a young girl named America Singer who secretly is in love with a boy named Aspen. Well I’m getting rather ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.
The book takes place in a future United States of America after the 4th world war. America is no longer named America, it is now the country of Illea and is run by a royal family. Society as a whole is broken down into a 8 tier caste or ranking system. Your families original level or rank was based on their ability to help the newly forming government at the time. Then every generation after that would inherit their station in life based on your original assigned caste or rank. Rank 1 is the royal family. Rank 8 is … well, they are the lowest forms of life, the homeless, mentally ill, criminals and whatnot. Rank 6 would be servants while rank 5 would be the artists of the world including musicians, artists as well as other basic skilled laborers.
Rank 4 seemed to be factory workers while rank 3 where things like teachers.
Rank 2 we would later learn in the book is the well to do including models and other members of society awarded such a station by the royal family including retired veterans of the Illea army whom get drafted at 19 and must serve 10 years of their life. No matter what their rank is at the time of enlistment, (even if they are an 8) get to be a 2 at the end of their service. That seems a little off to me, I mean a clear and obvious setup for the main character who will also be awarded rank 2 for being a part of “The Selection“.
The lower your rank the poorer you were. Rank 5’s struggled but could at least afford to eat, whereas rank 6’s might not always have food to put on the table.
The country as I said before is run by a royal family. Any daughters born to the royal family are married off to prince’s and dignitaries from other counties to secure stronger relations. The boys however would marry the “daughters of Illea”. What this means is that when a prince comes of age, 1 girl from each district or region as they call them, is selected to compete in a bachelor style competition. The winner gets to marry the prince and enjoy all that life as a member of the royal family has to offer. Their entire family is then uplifted to a 2.
All of the competing members of selected 35 are automatically awarded the rank 3 but not their families. Their families would only get the rise in rank if their daughter wins. While the 35 are competing, their families are given some sort of financial compensation. The longer the girl stays in the competition, the more money the family would receive.
America Singer is the main focus of this story, whose family is a rank 5. At the first of the book she is in love with a boy named Aspen, who is a rank 6. America’s family wants the best for her and hopes that she will marry up as her older sister did. Her sister married a 4. Later in the story you learn that America has an older brother, who although born a 5, is an unusually gifted sculptor and becoming rather famous in his own right. His dream is to make enough money to one day be a rank 2. In the pursuit of his dreams of fame and fortune, he does his family kind of wrong in the process and as a result they haven’t really been close with him since.
Besides him though, America is very close with the rest of her family. The struggle like any lower middle class family would, but in the end the love between the all is very evident and it is her love and devotion for her family that drives her to try and stay in the competition for as long as she can so that her family will continue to get the money from the royal family.
America Singer has fallen in love with a boy whose family is much worse off than she is. They are rank 6 and more often than not they can’t afford to feed themselves so America saves her dinner scraps and feeds it to Aspen when he comes for a secret visit.
Aspen wants America to try and compete for a place in The Selection because he wants more for her, more than he knows he could ever give her.
America agrees to compete, confident she won’t get selected in the first place, but she does and that is where the trouble begins.
The story follows America Singer and the events that take place in “The Selection”. The story ends off at the finals of sorts, which is where they pick the top 10 which they call “The Elite” and that is the setup for the second book in the series.
Is the story good? Yes. It’s not really that bad. While not the best book ever written, not every book can be Twilight. Is it worth the read? If you are a fan of romance novels in the young adult genre then this book is probably worth your time.