It has been a while since I posted a book review! I’ve had difficulty reading books on my To Be Read list because of the COVID-19 library closures, so I’ve mostly been trawling through old favorites on my bookshelf. But recently, I’ve started borrowing books from one of my good friends who has an extensive and very-different-from-mine home library.
A few weeks ago, she sent me home with the first three books in a YA Romance series called The Selection Series by Kiera Cass. Now, romance is not a genre I usually pick up, but after having finished writing a really, really dark book, I needed something fluffy and this seemed to fit the bill.
You guys. I was blown away by the books. I couldn’t put them down. As I said, not one for romance, least of all YA romance, but these books…wow. The Selection books managed to hit me just right.
America Singer is a Five, a lower caste citizen in the country of Illea whose life is centered around helping her family make a living through the arts. She is in love with Aspen, a young man in caste Four whose life and livelihood is servitude, when there is work for him at all. By night, Aspen and America sneak out to be together, planning their future and a marriage America’s family would not approve of.
But when the Prince of Illea, Prince Maxon, comes of age, America is chosen as one of 35 eligible young women to compete in The Selection, a pageant which, at the end, the Prince will choose who he will marry and make the future Queen of Illea.
At first, America is not in the competition to win Prince Maxon, thinking only the extra money her family is getting because of her participation, as well as hiding her love for Aspen. But soon she realizes there is more at stake than just the Prince’s heart. She learns the entire country is on the verge of a revolution, and the rebels have made the participants of the Selection a pawn in their games.
America must then decide if she will allow herself to fall in love with Prince Maxon and be willing to take on the roles and responsibilities as a Princess in a revolution, or keep the love between her and Aspen alive so that she can have the life she grew up imagining.
What I loved
The first thing I loved was the balance between outside plot and romance in these books. Once we got the tidbits about the revolution and how it played into the Selection, I was hooked. It was so cool to see how this development influenced America’s decisions and made things so much harder for her. It put her at odds with so many different individuals (not just the other Selection competitors) and I loved watching her grow into herself as a character.
The second thing I loved was the way the relationship blossomed between America and Prince Maxon. America stayed in the Selection for the good of her family, and because of that, she wasn’t trying to be someone else or strategize her way into winning Prince Maxon’s heart. She was upfront and honest with him and they became friends because of it. I absolutely loved seeing that sort of a relationship between the two and it got even better when both of them started realizing that they liked each other way more than that. Normally, I would be rolling my eyes at the romantic stuff, but I found myself smiling and egging them on, hoping that ultimately, America would choose Maxon over Aspen.
What I didn’t like
There were a couple borderline racy moments. I’m more conservative, and while nothing graphic or sexually explicit happened, there were some times where I felt like the physicality between the characters pushed the envelope into inappropriate for 17 year olds.
The Selection, Book 1
Violence: Low – mostly off screen
Romance: Some neck kissing and making out in the dark.
Language: Low – mild cussing
The Elite, Book 2
Violence: Medium – There is a fairly gruesome whipping, as well as blood shown on the walls.
Romance: Characters having heavy make out in the hallway at night
Language: Low – mild cussing
The One, Book 3
Violence: Medium/High – A character gets shot execution style, lots of gun fights
Romance: Characters make out to the point of taking each other’s clothes off, but it stops there. Characters sleep in the same bed overnight.
Language: Mild – Some cussing
Full Series Rating:
8/10! This is 100% the best YA Romance I have read! It’s the Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, and if you really enjoy the romance genre, you’ll likely love them. For someone who generally puts her nose up at romance, this pulled me in because there was enough action outside of the romance to balance it out and give me something to root for in the relationships. These are definitely on my “To Be Bought” list!!! The only note I would add is if you are a parent on the more conservative side and want to let your teens read these, it would be best to have a conversation with them about what is the appropriate level of physicality in dating relationships before allowing them to read it.