- Author: Kiera Cass
- Publisher: HarperCollins/HarperTeen Pub dates: 2012, 2013, & 2014
- Intended for: Ages 13+
- Perfect for: Anyone who loves a romance story. Anyone who loves a princess story with a bit of political intrigue.
I somehow hadn’t heard of this series when the first book debuted back in 2012. It got on the New York Times bestseller list and I still hadn’t heard of it. I guess that goes to show that no matter how immersed you are in the book world, you can’t know about all things and sometimes someone needs to tell you, “Read these books!” A friend told me just that and because she knows my taste so well, I dutifully read them, just as I was told.
I have to add that I’m super lucky that my friend was able to send me a galley of the third and final book so that I was able to read all of the books in succession without much wait. I totally appreciate being able to read the galley ahead of time because I really needed to know what was going to happen and how the series was going to end. I am not a good series reader. I get too restless knowing that I have to wait to find out what happens. And I hate not remembering all the details of the previous book when I’ve waited a year for the sequel. Oh, the problems of a book lover.
Anyway, I really, really liked this series. I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the first book (about 100 pages), but getting through the setup was worth it. The premise of the story is that after World War III and other various attacks, the U.S. is now the nation of Illéa. A King and Queen rule Illéa, and the people of the nation are broken into eight castes, with Ones being royalty, Twos having great wealth and opportunity, on down to Sevens and Eights, who can barely scrape by, working all day just to try and put food in their mouths. As is tradition in Illéa, a competition called The Selection takes place in order to find a wife for the prince. Thirty-five girls are chosen across all castes, and at the end of the competition, one girl is crowned the princess.
The second book, The Elite, refers to the top six women in the competition, and by the third book, The One, there are just four women left in The Selection. Each book is solid on its own, but work especially good read in succession. The third book was definitely my favorite. It was nonstop action, intrigue, romance and will he/won’t he, topped off with a great ending.
What I liked the most about the books is that they aren’t straight-up romance books about wanting to be a princess or getting to be royalty. Instead, the series is about a strong-willed woman named America who is pushed into The Selection against her will (but goes because she knows it will help her family because members of the Selection are paid for their time at the palace) and fights to make things fair in the nation. There is a lot of political drama throughout the books, with rebel attacks on the palace (and on castes throughout the nation), supporting countries trying to work with Illéa for a better future, and covert actions made by people in and surrounding the palace.
I also liked that while the series is about a competition among women for one man, and while there are some competitors who use some nasty tactics to try and get ahead in The Selection, mostly there is a wonderful air of friendship between the girls. The girls aren’t stereotypes of women who will do anything to be a princess, but rather thinking, rational people who realize that the others in the challenge are real people, and they are treated as such.
And of course I can’t forget to mention that the books are fun because there is a good deal of romance and figuring out one’s feelings about love. The books are a treat that will go down fast, but will leave you feeling good.
Are there more books like these that I’ve been missing out on?