Saturday, February 1, 2014


Author: Kiera Cass

Age: Teen

Like so many other current teen sci fi novels, this is a less well done knockoff of The Hunger Games, but with the unique twist of Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. (Come on, you know you’re intrigued now.) In a post-American dystopian society with a strict caste structure, the heir to the throne always chooses his bride through a televised contest open to women from any caste.

Far removed from the glamour of palace life, ball gowns, and TV cameras, the only fantasy America Singer (yes, that’s really her name) has ever harbored is to marry her beloved best friend, Aspen (again, really his name), and share life’s trials with him. And there will definitely be trials—if she marries Aspen she will be forced from her already low caste (musicians and artisans) into his even lower one (servants). However, when the nation of Illea’s current prince comes of age and a new Selection is announced, Aspen does the honorable thing and breaks up with America, urging her to fill out an application for the Selection. America is cute enough but doesn’t think of herself as anything special so it is a shock when she is one of 35 young women chosen to live in the palace while Prince Maxon (also, yes, his name) narrows down his choices.

America just wants to get through the contest, hopefully use it to improve her family’s life a little, and then get back to Aspen. But of course, her disdain for the whole process captures Maxon’s attention, and, of course, she finds herself falling for him too. Her feelings become even more conflicted when Aspen (the one who pushed her away!) gets himself a job as a palace guard.  

These are not fantastically well-written books (I have to fight the urge to take a red pen to much of the dialogue—I check them out of the library or else I might actually do it) but they make for good, quick, guilty pleasure reads. AND if you hang on to about halfway through the second book, The Elite, the plot actually thickens a bit, which is a pleasant surprise! As America grows closer to Maxon, she learns secrets about his family and about his ancestor, the founder of Illea who instituted the caste system. Maxon gains some depth as well, which was also a nice shock—the more we learn about him, the more he starts to look like he might be the villain, and America begins to trust him less even as she begins to fall for him (and for the power she might hold to enact change as queen) more.

The final book in the trilogy comes out in May and I can’t wait.

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