Lina Benich ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
YA Heroines are becoming more and more similar these days. These young women live at the lower end of the societal structure in some sort of dystopian society where they feel constantly restricted, except for when they break the rules. They have a charming boy from their town they feel close to, and when they are thrown from their world into some high society existence, they meet another charming guy, one who understands her. And this is precisely the formula of America in Kiera Cass’ The Selection. One part Hunger Games, one part The Bachelor, this book published in 2012 from Harper Teen will entrance all of the teen girls.
The Selection is about a post-US world where all of North America has joined forces to create a country known as Illéa. This country has thirty-five provinces and is ruled by a royal family. There is also a caste system that gives people a number between one and eight, and types of professions each caste is allowed to work in. One, and you’re practically royalty; eight, and you might as well be mud.
Our young heroine is named America, who is a five. Fives are the artsy types, so of course America sings perfectly and plays a multitude of instruments. She is in love with a boy from the caste below her named Aspen, but because of societal restrictions and America’s status-climbing mother, they can’t get married. This is good news, as a few pages into the book a letter arrives for America. All girls between sixteen and twenty are eligible to apply to become part of the Selection, a process not unlike The Hunger Games or The Bachelor or The Princess Diaries. One girl will be chosen from each province to vie for the prince of the nation, named Maxon.
Of course, America is chosen. And from there the competition begins.
Though there are thirty-five girls in the running, you really only ever know ten or twelve of them, which is nice, because keeping track of all of those names and people would be very difficult. Cass attempts most valiantly to make a rich world and plot, but though the world is intricate, the plot was particularly predictable. Some of the plot points that came up later in the book that I’m sure were expected to be shockers I had seen coming much earlier in the book. That was a bit of a let-down on Cass’ part.
Every time I predicted these things, I hoped I would be wrong; I hoped that there would be a twist. Unfortunately, The Selection plods along in precisely the manner you would expect it, hitting all of the formulaic plot points along the way. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book. It was a nice, relaxing read for anyone who might want to kick back in this bright summer weather and escape for a few hours. But I have started to notice a trend in YA Heroines, and I’m hoping that authors will return to the days of dramatically different women in dramatically different situations. Because try as we might, reading about the same type of girl gets boring. No matter how pretty her dresses become.