Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

"35 girls. 1 crown. The competition of a lifetime."

In the fairly large, young country of Illéa, the King marries off his daughters to princes of other countries to form alliances. His son however marries a young woman from his country to strengthen its citizenry. Any young woman in Illéa can be Queen. With Prince Maxon Schreave soon coming of age, he is looking for a partner to rule their country. To find his perfect mate, The Selection is utilized. Every single woman between the ages of sixteen and twenty completes an entry form for the chance to compete for the Prince’s hand in marriage. One young woman from each of the thirty-five provinces of Illéa is chosen for the competition of a lifetime. Each family is generously compensated for their service to the royal family.

America Singer and her family are artists. As such, their caste number is a five, only three away from the bottom. Artists are only steadily employed during the three holiday seasons. Times can be tough but America is a beautiful singer and a gorgeous young woman. Her mother is a social climber and hopes America will marry above their caste as her older sister did. Secretly, for the past two years she has been in love with the handsome Aspen Leger. Unfortunately, Aspen is a six, a member of the servant class. Dirt poor, he is struggling to provide for his mother and six younger siblings since his father’s death. In Illéa, it is unheard of for a woman to marry down. With starts in her eyes, America dreams of becoming Aspen’s wife, even if it means downgrading her status and being on the brink of starvation.

When the letter for the Selection arrives, America is adamant about not registering. Her mother sees it as a way for her daughter to better herself and vehemently pushes. She sneaks out of the house later that night after everyone has gone to bed to meet Aspen in a tree house in her backyard. After a heart-to-heart, Aspen begs America to enter the Selection. He doesn’t want her to feel guilty about holding back when she could better herself. She reluctantly agrees. The next morning, her mother wakes her up early and offers her a deal. If America enters her name into the Selection, she promises to let her keep half of her earnings and perform by herself. Since she had already promised Aspen she would, America sees this as an opportunity to begin her nest egg for her life with Aspen.

When America and her mother go to the Province Service Center to turn in her form, a mob is already lined up. The two stand in line with Aspen’s mother and his twin sisters. His mother lets them know that the winners aren’t randomly drawn but individually chosen, hence why some of the girls are dressed to the nines. The conversation soon turns to how suddenly Aspen seems happy and his mother suspects a young woman is the reason. America’s heart pounds as his mother thinks Aspen is considering marriage. When the government takes her application photo, America is smiling radiantly while thinking of Aspen.

The Singer family gathers around the television to watch the Illéa Capital Report for the reveal of the Selection names. After a brief update on the war, the host begins. America isn’t even paying attention when her name is announced. Her family is ecstatic but America is shocked. She never dreamed that she would be chosen. Life abruptly changes in the Singer household as Palace officials descend to ready America for the competition. After going over the rules, she finds out that no matter what happens her status is now a Three. As America is trying to decide what to take, the doorbell rings. Her mother answers the door to Aspen holding a bouquet of flowers from his sisters. As a Six, America tells him she needs his services to clean the mess she made of her room packing. Aspen cannot turn her down and follows. After everything they have been through, America finds it ironic that he is now allowed in her room.

Aspen tells America her photo was beautiful. She lets him know it was for him but he doesn’t understand. She informs Aspen she thought he was going to propose. He lets her know that he was waiting on the outcome of the upcoming draft. Twice a year, all nineteen year old men are chosen at random to join the military until the age of 23. Soldiers become an automatic Two but are not guaranteed to survive their enlistment. Aspen tells her he didn’t want to complicate her life in that way. She understands but soon their conversation gets heated when America pays Aspen for his services. They both know that he needs the money but his pride continues to stand in the way of all their plans. Aspen leaves and America softly cries.

The next morning is the big day. America is leaving to join the other girls for the Selection at the Palace. Her good-bye is bittersweet and soon America finds that nothing is what she expected. Will America survive the competition to become Maxon’s intended? Can she and Aspen ever be together? What dangers does America uncover at the Palace? Will the competition be one huge catfight for Maxon’s attention? Is Maxon at all what America expects? And what happens when America isn’t sure where her heart is leading her?

America’s story will continue with book two in the spring of 2013 followed by book three in 2014.

Visit Kiera Cass’ website.

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