Author- Keira Cass
My Rating- 4 STARS
Synopsis- For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. 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. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
This starts off sort of like a none lethal Hunger Games story. It is a dystopian America set after a Fourth World War where many conflicts have seen them under the rule of China, then as it's own country again, named after the man who led it to freedom and became a King. So America, for this story, is named Illea. In this new Illea Princesses are married off to other countries to strengthen treaties and Princes marry a daughter of the appropriate age from one of many districts of the country. There is also something similar to factions within the districts (A little like divergent but not by human traits separating them but by work and coin). Eights are the homeless and wanderers, Ones are royalty. From thousands of girls, only 35 are selected to live within the palace so that the Prince can choose a wife amongst them.
America, the heroine of the story (not the country itself) is a Five, the artist's faction who are neither starving but don't quite live comfortable enough to have luxuries. She is a Singer and plays many instruments and she believes she is in love with a boy in a lower faction. Females do not marry down and so they keep it secret. But Aspen breaks up with her and at the same time she has been selected, along with others, for the Prince.
From the moment she lives in the palace walls she is glad to be away from her heartbreak but makes it clear to the Prince she does not want him romantically and offers to be his friend instead. Yet, they do bond and they do grow closer and the Prince takes care of her well. He even promises to wait for her to decide if she loves him back. Which brings me to the only part of this book that really disappointed me and stopped me from giving that 5-star rating. Part of her wants Aspen, part wants the Prince and she makes it clear that she is enjoying the triangle around her, which is unfair to both the boys. It stopped her from being that kind, strong, elegant woman and made her seem a little arrogant and selfish.
However....I am ready to delve into Book 2 and see how it goes and whether she redeems herself. Wonderfully written. A world full of flaws and fear. A great start to the series.