The Selection by Kiera Cass
"The opportunity to be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of 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, and leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she begins to realize that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined."
As I subbed at my kids' elementary school last school year, I often saw this book on the fifth and sixth grade girls' desks. Consequently, I wanted to see what all the excitement was about. So I was happy when my book group decided to read it this month. I love the cover photo. That dress is gorgeous! Who wouldn't want to wear that, right?? As I started reading I was at first shocked that fifth and sixth grade girls were reading this book. There is a scene right off the bat that is pretty much an "intimacy" scene. I read it twice because I wanted to make sure that I read it correctly. They end up not actually going all the way; but it's all but. Wow. I would not want my fifth or sixth grade girl reading that! So I wasn't quite sure what to expect the rest of the way. There were some good elements to the book. I liked the characters and thought the character development was good. I liked America, for the most part. She did drive me crazy in some instances. I didn't really know what to think of Aspen. Sometimes I liked him and sometimes I did not like him at all. There were some of the girls later on that were well developed. I liked Marlee. Even though I didn't like Celeste at all, I thought she was very well developed and could picture her exactly. I liked Prince Maxon too. I thought he was down to earth and real. The whole bit about the caste system was interesting. This book was just ok for me though; I seriously felt like I had already read it. Between Matched and Princess Academy, I really didn't see anything new. Maybe it's because I just read Princess Academy, but a lot of it was so similar that it felt like almost the same story, just set in a different time and place. The circumstances are a little different, but the similarities are uncanny. Towards the end I got a little more into it, but it never really became its own book in my mind. This book is written for a little bit of an older girl than Princess Academy is.
The reason I would say that this book is written for an older girl is because there is some profanity; not a lot, but enough to make it more of a YA book than a middle-grader book. There are also a few scenes like the one I described above. They never go all the way, but almost, and they do everything except that. Also, it is a crime to actually be "intimate" with someone before you are married; consequently, they discuss this and use words and descriptions that I wouldn't want my middle-grader reading, even if she's had the birds and the bees discussion.
I liked the book; it was okay. I think I would have liked it a lot more if I hadn't just read Princess Academy, because they are so similar. It just seemed like I had already read the book, even though I hadn't.
Rating: PG -13 (Some profanity, a few almost "intimacy" scenes, kissing, discussions about "intimacy," and some violence with rebel attacks.)
Recommendation: Young Adult: 13 years-old and up