This week I’m focusing my thoughts on the original three novels that follow the love story of America and Maxon. Next week I will discuss the newest novel, The Heir, which follows their daughter, Eadlyn, as she holds her own selection some 20 years later.
While certainly not as intellectually demanding as other reads, it’s a fantastic series and a lot of fun to devour. The story line is engaging and provides enough twists to keep readers entertained without becoming overburdened with action. There are climaxes and also moments of calm. This was a series that I could not read fast enough. It was a series that had me up late and then up early to read more.
The novel takes place in Illea, the new, dystopian country in the western hemisphere made up of 35 districts ranging in location from present day Canada to South America. Each district is divided into a caste system ranging from 1-8. Royalty maintains a “1” status while the homeless and unemployed are thrust under the “8” category. This caste system causes friction throughout the country and creates two forces of rebels–the Northern rebels and the Southern rebels, each with its own agenda.
The plot revolves around the experiences of young America Singer (an apt name considering her family’s profession as musicians and artists making them “5’s”. America is a natural vocalist). America is chosen to compete in the Selection–a competition reminiscent of “The Bachelor” to win the heart of Prince Maxon and become his bride. Initially, America is torn between her old life (and love, namely the boy-next-door named Aspen) and her blossoming romance with Maxon and potential change she can create as his queen. Of course, by the end of the series, she seems to find her place.
I enjoyed the fact that The Selection series offers more than a corrupt government and a love triangle. I found the history and setting of the novels to be clever and rather illuminating. There are problems with this society. Some can be solved by the monarchy and some are caused by it. The history behind the creation of Illea and the way its citizens are given history intrigued me. This world is somewhat less advanced than our current one (as seen in America’s fascination with the computer and the Northern rebels focus on obtaining history books). The series makes intriguing claims about the importance of history and understanding the version of history given to you.
Now, I know these novels may oversimplify certain elements of relationships between countries, the economics behind the caste system, and the details of wars and revolutions. But I didn’t read this book for economic, militaristic, or nationalist reasons. If you want to be challenged in these ways, I suggest a different read–not a YA series. I read this series because it has a clever story and a fantastic ending.
I have to admit that I am a romantic. I want the love interests to end up together in the end. I found myself routing for Maxon and America throughout the series. They compliment each other and help each other see their value beyond the status symbols of the caste system. I believe that Maxon is sincerely in love with America from day one and that they belong together. Yes, that’s sappy but it’s refreshing to read a series that forwards a love story in which the characters make each other better and sincerely want what’s best for each other.
*Spoiler* I also loved that not only is the love triangle resolved by eliminating one angle (namely Aspen), but everyone gets to be happy in the end. Aspen can find true love as well in the form of sweet Lucy who needs someone to protect her as well as love her. Again, sappy as it sounds, I found it refreshing to read a novel where all the main love triangle members could actually find love. That has bothered me in other dystopian novels so I was pleasantly surprised to find it in this one. Between the resolved love and the unexpected final twists in The One, I finished this series feeling happy and satisfied.
The story ends like a classic–with happily ever after. And that makes it a classic for me.