Books: The Selection, The Elite, The One Author: Keira Cass Date(s) Published: 2012,2013,2014 If you are into romance stories powerful enough to make you swoon, this is for you!
At this point, the Earth has survived four World Wars and the USA was transformed into the Kingdom of Illéa that has been divided into eight Castes – with 8 being the lowest Caste (homeless people) and Caste 1 being Royalty and Clergy. America Singer (Caste 5) knows that she is in love with Aspen Ledger (Caste 6), her secret boyfriend. They must keep their relationship covert because of the strict rules of marriage. But Aspen is loyal and knows that if America marries him, she will go down a Caste, having to work ever harder to support each other. Suddenly, America gets a letter millions of girls would die to get, but America wants nothing to with it since she already knows what this fancy envelope contains. This year, Prince Maxon is turning 19, meaning all girls between the ages of 16 and 20 become eligible to participate in The Selection, where the hand of the future king is the prize. Aspen and America’s family urge her to sign up, since the actual chances of getting picked are low, America reluctantly agrees, as anyone chosen immediately becomes a 3, and her family needs the money. That’s when the impossible happens; America is selected, meaning she would be forced to leave Aspen as the rules require a no relationship status. Her job is made both comfortingly easier and tremendously harder, because Aspen breaks up with her the night before she leaves for the palace over a misinterpreted gift.
Now away from her family for the first time ever, bathed in the lap of luxury at the grand palace, America wants to do nothing more than to fly back 2 months, into the time where there was no Prince Maxon, no stupid letter, and no heartbreak. To America, Prince Maxon is a boring, spoiled, soon-to-be King. She and Marlee Tames, from Caste 5, make friends almost instantly and America is happy that at least she has someone to confide in. But the universe seems to like taunting her, because one night, she can’t shake the urge to run outside, which is not allowed due to the raids on the palace by the rebels, unless the prince himself escorts you. She is stopped just short of the fresh night air by the guards just as Maxon himself walks round the corner. All the ladies were supposed to meet the prince the next day, but outside at last, America vows to keep this quiet. She also confesses the truth about needing money and her feelings for someone else. The prince is dumbfounded that someone doesn’t like him already but decides to keep America in the competition. Suddenly, Aspen has been drafted to become a palace guard and makes ‘appointments’ with America as she tries to figure out her feelings, because now she realizes that Maxon isn’t the bratty and crazy rich guy she saw on camera, but so much more to her. As the competition becomes harder, and the raids on the palace more frequent and violent, America realizes that her feelings for Maxon are stronger than those for Aspen, as she discovers more and more information about the prince and the truth about his parents.
Don’t let the frilly dresses and sparkly tiaras on the covers of these books fool you. This story is like The Hunger Games and the Matched series, minus most of the blood. This book is powerful enough to make you jump with joy one moment and scream the next, threading emotion and words together to make this wonderful series. The conflicts between the Palace and the Rebels make this story line much more intriguing, coming at both the best and worst parts of the book possible. Sometimes when I read, I get a sudden realization that the characters don’t feel real. But in these books, it’s the complete opposite. It’s hard to describe just how deep this book digs in terms of emotion. Some people use the phrase ‘like a dagger twisting in your heart’ and that is exactly how this makes you feel. Apart from the time I read The Hunger Games, this was the second series where I felt each emotion and pain physically. Each time the word ‘rebel’ was mentioned, my heart started racing and each time America was happy, I could almost sing with joy. This story is perfectly paced and has just the right amount of romance, along with a dash of violence, so it is more for older kids and all adults.
I would absolutely recommend this series because even though I read from America’s point of view, it almost seemed to happen to me, as well. I also love how, although this book would generally fall into the ‘romance’ genre, it has a good deal of mystery as well, with plot twists and uncovered truths at every turn. When I was reading this, I was constantly on the edge of my seat or kept awake by the powerful words spoken in this collection. I can relate to the relationship America has with her younger sister, May and America’s general ‘minimalist’ style and attitude that I too, prefer. Although these series are written from the perspective of a girl, there is an additional, bonus book titled The Prince and The Guard in which Maxon and Aspen describe the events from their eyes that I think everyone enjoyed. I didn’t mention the last part of the series, The Heir and The Crown, (which I also highly recommend) because they are written from a different generation’s point of view and the main character’s parents will spoil the first three books. I have enjoyed these books tremendously and hope that you will, too. Happy reading!