Introduction

This is a very special time for us Americans. It is a time where two candidates point their fingers at one another and blame the other one for everything wrong with the world except for maybe global warming (unless they think they can get away with it) in hopes of being elected for President. Around this time, many of us are likely tired of this finger pointing and are looking forwards to election day just so that we don’t have to listen to them anymore, no matter who wins. Others, with admirable patriotic fervor, are going door to door in order to gain new recruits or, more likely, face the wrath of equally patriotic individuals supporting the opposing candidate.

But at this time, we should be counting our blessings.
We could be listening to the whiny narrative of a seventeen year old girl as she complains about being catapulted into wealth and riches.

Which is pretty much the entire plot of The Selection.

The Selection was written by Kiera Cass, a woman who seems to think that it’s necessary to mention how many boys she’s kissed in her life. She doesn’t mention the details of how she came about writing this book, and honestly, I don’t care about that because I know why she did already.

Due to the success of the Hunger Games Trilogy, authors have started to write dystopian fiction with a vengeance. Almost all of it is silly, badly thought out, shows no comprehension of the genre, and seems to think that true love somehow justifies a plot.

This is one of those books. However, it’s been published to some acclaim and gotten some good reviews.

Now, I’m edging a little bit out of my usual territory of fantasy, but hopefully even without my ranting about how the authors never bothered to do even the simplest of folklore research can be made up with my ranting about how Cass don’t seem to comprehend how society works.

Cover Impressions

The cover is odd. I say odd because when you look at it briefly, it seems impressive, with a group of girls all wearing the same dress while one is striking a pose. It gives a feeling of the competition and how they’re struggling to stand out when there is a sort of forced conformity.

However, when you really look at the book, you realize that it’s just one girl in a hall of mirrors, so all the other girls are just reflections of her placed in odd ways so that you don’t immediately realize that it’s the same girl. There are some sparklies that I think are overhead lights, but I’m not sure.

So basically, at first glance it looks like something tense and even possibly interesting. Then you realize that it’s just another girl in a prom dress just like all the other girls in prom dresses that grace YA novels.

So…it’s much like the story itself…

Plot

Taken from Amazon:

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

Yes, her name really is America. I will pause to give you time to snicker, sing “America the Beautiful”, or just shake your head.

I wonder if Cass would feel as clever if the girl’s name was Uzbekistan. Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

So my version:

We start out with America complaining that her mother wants her to enter into the Selection, which is an event where all the girls of the right age compete for a chance to be one of the lucky thirty-five girls to try to win the heart of the prince of some modern country. This seems like a poor policy for a new country to have, since they should be more worried about alliances, particularly as the world seems to have gone back the medieval times, but whatever.

Apparently, this is in a version of America (the country) that, after a war with China was renamed Iléa after regaining its independence. Personally, I don’t think that the situation that we have with China would allow us to attack them (unless of course we wanted to start WWIII) but in this world, for some reason, no other country was interested in two superpowers duking it out. So, for some reason, despite the fact that monarchies have gone out of favor in the last couple centuries, the country decided to have what appears to be an absolute monarchy, which is something that even Britain never fully had.

This doesn’t strike me as something that Americans, who generally see monarchies as only slightly better than communism, would go with. At least Cass has enough of a brain to have rebels.

So, apparently now all the countries have monarchies now and all the daughters of royalty in Iléa are married to foreign princes, but the sons marry within the country to…make this idiocy possible.

It makes no sense to me either.

In the caste system that’s been set up for no apparent reason, people have numbers that determine their rank from one through seven. America (the girl) and her family are Fives. Meaning that they’re entertainment. This…doesn’t make much sense, if you consider the very odd position that entertainers usually are in, but at any rate, this family is poor, yet they have a servant family that seems to work for them on occasion. Being Selected would mean that her family would have a better chance at getting food and business, but America doesn’t care.

America doesn’t want to be in an arranged marriage. She wants to get married to a boy who’s a caste below her and her family can all just starve. Oh, and she admits that getting married to this guy is all that she wants to do in life. Talk about a positive role model for girls. Where’s the MLP:FIM crew when you need them?

And somehow, she seems certain that she would be Selected despite her complaints about how ugly she is and how she’s competing against everyone else in the country to just be one of the thirty-five girls Selected.1 Anyways, she goes to some tree house and meets her Sweet Honey, whose name is Aspen. Being that I’ve lived in Colorado, I think that it sounds like the ski resort. Well, I guess if one person was named after a location…

So, Aspen wants her to join ‘just to see if she can’ which sounds to me like he’s hoping to get rid of her, but America, showing her usual hierarchy of importance, goes along with it because he wants her to. Not for her family or for herself or anything else interesting, but for the guy she’s perfectly OK with it. She monologs for a while, questions a system that she shouldn’t question because she’d been raised to think that it was ok, and goes to bed.

The next day, at the event where the girls get their pictures taken, America hears that Aspen seems to be getting ready to get married, and she automatically thinks it’s her. She looks thrilled in her picture. That night, Aspen breaks it off with her, telling her that he’s not good enough blah blah blah. And goes off. Probably to see his other girlfriend. America is devastated.

Of course, she gets Selected, and is suddenly catapulted into fame. Her family this thrilled. Now, with the fame of their daughter, they’re going to be able to get some business. For whatever reason, the caste of the family does not follow the caste of the daughter as she’s suddenly a number Three. This doesn’t make sense, but the whole system doesn’t make sense so who cares. America is also told point blank that while it’s all good that she’s a virgin now, she better be willing to give Prince Maxon anything he asks. Anything. America, being a paragon of pureness is more unhappy about this than anything else. Honestly, it might have been more interesting to see her fighting with how she was raised and how much she wanted to improve her family’s lives. Then we’d have some actual conflict.

At any rate, she leaves, gets to see Aspen with his real sweet honey, goes by train,2 meets some of the other girls, including the evil TM Celeste, who doesn’t really do all that much in this book, and heads to the capital. There, she stops and signs autographs because she’s suddenly really popular, and everyone is astounded by how speshul she is for doing that.

At the palace, all the girls are supposed to get make overs, but since America is so naturally beautiful all she needs is some styling while all the other girls get dye jobs, extensions, highlights, and whatever else to make them equal her natural beauty.

Is this a dystopian novel or a teenage fantasy?

Moving on, America gets to ogle her pretty dresses for a while, and gets to eat dinner with the other girls, who automatically see her as a threat, but they’re not allowed to see the royal family for some reason. The girls get told that because there are rebel attacks, they’re not allowed to go outside unless there’s a guard with them. This sounds normal. America gets all scared and upset about it, but, really, she should have known this.

Since there’s nothing to do, America goes to her room, finds out she has servants, and, in traditional Sue fashion, she wants them to treat her like a normal person. I know that this isn’t a bad thing, but it’s just so cliche that I have to call it out. So, after dismissing the servants, she stares out at the balcony and, for no reason other than to drive the fact that America’s name is SYMBOLISM, she has a fit.

There was no freedom here.

You know, if you had been raised out in the boonies, this would have made sense. If we’d been told that she was claustrophobic, it would have made sense. Since we’re not told this, it comes out of nowhere. As she was a musician who would have been expected to preform in the houses of people like this and lived in a city, it’s just an anvil dropping to tell me that America the Sue is the personification of America the country. If America (the country) had a personality, I’m sure it would be upset about this.

So, she flips, runs out of the room, looks like she’s having some sort of fit, and demands that the guards let her outside. The guards, having some sense, don’t let her. That’s when someone suddenly orders them to let her go, and escorts her outside. It turns out that this is Prince Maxon, who she’s competing with all the other girls to get. He seems like a generally ok guy, asking her if she’s alright at that point, because he called her ‘my dear’, America flips out at him and kick him the most obvious spot. Maxon wants to know just what he did to deserve that.

I’d like to know that too. America’s response:

“I’m not your dear.”

You know, if this had been a real possessive term this would make sense. I mean if Maxon had been using that to claim ownership of her, I’d understand this reaction, but the problem is it doesn’t seem to be from the text. Maxon seems to be the very first polite love interest that I’ve dealt with, and America is just coming off as a brat.

So, Maxon is apparently a bit of a secret masochist since he seems kind of attracted to her, and America goes to bed. This scene gives America a head start over the other girls, and causes them to have a more informal relationship. Was that a gasp or just a yawn?

We are now halfway through the book. Do you see a plot, because I sure don’t.

The next day, Maxon introduces himself formally to all the girls, talks to them all individually, and America tells him that she doesn’t want to be there. Instead of wondering just what America has against being bumped up two casts, he’s very understanding, and she promises to kind of spy on the other girls for him. It’s not that blunt, naturally. He also calls a group of girls to stay behind, and they’re all dismissed. I think that Cass is trying to build up suspense here, but she never explains why these girls were eliminated. So I assume that it was because she didn’t want to write about them.

So, after that, Maxon starts taking the girls on individual dates, and visiting America in her bedroom unsupervised. Well, since he’s the prince, it’s not a big deal for her safety’s sake, but if she wants to keep up the whole paragon of pureness thing, this is a bad thing. The least people are going to do is gossip.

What’s odd is that America rarely actually talks to the other girls. It is mentioned that they’re jealous of the fact that Maxon seems interested in her, but we’re told that America is getting close to them rather than shown.

I’m not going to mention every single stupid thing that happens in this, such as a bet between Maxon and America about whether or not America’s sister May will cry when she tries some kind of food with the prize as America’s ability to wear pants. If I did, this review would last a very, very long time.

So, as time goes on, she develops a ‘friendship’ with him and starts getting upset when he kisses the other girls, despite that she’s told him that she’s not interested. I don’t really see why he keeps her around. Meanwhile an interview of all the girls is about to be shown, rather like the live interview of all the tributes in The Hunger Games. I need to stop drawing these parallels. It’s not like this isn’t obvious…

So, America angsts about Aspen and then gets crabby when Maxon shows interests outside of her, all while claiming to be looking for a girl that is good for Maxon and shaming Celeste, whose only heinous deed so far is spilling wine on a girl’s dress. Admittedly, this is obnoxious, but it’s not enough to demonize the girl.

Before the interview, there is a rebel attack, which is not well described, but involves explosions and everyone hiding. While they are running off to the safety, one of America’s maids, Lily starts to have a fit and has to be pretty much carried to safety, where they’re told that while America is supposed to stay there, the servants have to leave and go yo another safe point. America pitches a fit, so the servants stay. We find out that Lily was raped by the rebels before, and she sometimes has fits when they come.

This is never mentioned again.

Rape is not something that you shove into a story for drama. It is most definitely not something that you mention, play for drama and never bring up again for the whole stinking novel. I hate this so much, I consider this action on the level of HUSH HUSH!

While they’re waiting, and America’s now ignoring Lily, Maxon mentions that there are Northern Rebels and Southern Rebels. The Northern Rebels attack more frequently, but don’t kill so many people, the Southern Rebels attack maybe once or twice a year, kill a lot of people, and seem to be looking for something.

So, while the plot is outside, literally bombarding them in an attempt to be noticed, Maxon hints that he’s interested in her, America whines about how she’s not interested in him but is and life goes on.

So, after the attack, some of the girls decide that this is too stressful and they’re going to go home, but they never had any lines, so who cares.

The big interview is coming up, and Maxon and America have a conversation about the caste system. It is incredibly idiotic. Apparently, despite the fact that Maxon has shown a decent amount of knowledge about how the system works, he doesn’t seem aware that poverty equals hunger. And America has to explain it too him. Maxon is horrified. I am unimpressed. She also tells him that Celeste is bad. Since she doesn’t have any proof other than that she was mean, and she thinks that Celeste is being mean on purpose, Maxon tells her not to speak ill of the other candidates, or he’ll have to disqualify her. America is mad, and Maxon isn’t budging. He says that once she has some real proof, he’ll think about it, but at the moment, her families too powerful to just ignore her.

Finally, politics in a political drama.

At the interview, Celeste is all hot and stuff, and that’s evil. Some other girls are named and brought up, but as we’ve never heard them speak before, it’s hard to care. America tells us that, yes, she was named after America the country because she kicked so much as a baby her mom named her after the country the fought so hard to stay alive.

This is forgotten as Maxon suddenly makes an announcement that he’s going to raise taxes to help the poor. This is, as to be expected, not really taken well. It’s also political suicide, since, judging by the middle ages, to rule, the king needs the support of either the nobles, (the upper castes) the people, (the lower castes) or religion. He is alienating the nobles before he can be sure of the support of the people. This is stupid.

The king and queen try to brush this under the rug, but the damage is done, and there is hinted to be a lot of problems on the horizon.

This is promptly forgotten the moment that America finds Aspen, now a member of the royal guard. That…that’s…convenient. I do not like convenience. Aspen goes to see America and tells her that he’s missed her so much, and that girl that she saw him with wasn’t really his girlfriend and it’s all a really big mistake and America buys the whole thing.

Showing the usual survival instinct that YA heroines have, she starts inviting him over to her room and having steamy make out sessions on the bed. This is incredibly stupid. First of all, she’s been told that she’s considered Palace property and messing with her could at the very least cause Aspen to lose his job. Second, she has shown herself to be a rival for the throne to a lot of young girls, and I’m sure that they’d all be pretty glad to have one more rival out of the way in return for a better chance at Maxon. Particularly as Celeste is being built up as Evil Incarnate. I would assume that since America’s been trying to get her disqualified, that Celeste’s trying to do the same thing. Yet none of this ever seems to enter America’s pretty little head.

While she is having her little affair, if I can call it that, there’s an attack by the rebels. Remember them? Well, they make an attack, and Aspen has to rush America into the safe area, and for a second there looks like their might be drama because Maxon shows hints of having realized that something was up, but then he goes back to worrying about how many people died in the attack. Celeste also asks America where she was. I’m sure this will be significant later. So, after that attack, nothing happens and no one that America knows gets killed, and then she goes to her room to find that someone was in fact looking for something. This is not resolved. America then talks to Maxon, finds out that all but six of the girls are going to be told to go back, and she is one of the six. She asks why. He basically tells her that he loves her, and wants her around as long as possible, even though, politically speaking, the other girls are better choices.

After that, she talks to Aspen and calls off the affair. Not because it’s dangerous, but because it’s her choice. She’s finally making her own decisions, and…if this had been brought up before, it would make more sense. The book ends here. Seriously.

Nothing happened for the last half of the book. I felt like Cass was just waiting for the sequel so she could write a trilogy. Even Hush Hush had a plot wander in at some point that supposedly justified the novel. This has nothing. She was selected. She went to the palace. Everything else could have been trimmed down and probably allowed the next book to fit in it! This was a waste of time!

I. Am. Irked.

Characters

Prince Maxon is actually, for the genre, a good idea for a character. He is gentle, mild, and, most importantly, nonthreatening. For this book to work, the male lead had to be as nonthreatening as possible. Why? Because in this world, Maxon has all the power. He could force America to sleep with him, and Cass makes sure that we know this. For this book not to have rape vibes, that had to be extremely far removed from his character. This does a decent job. However, at the same time, Cass shoots herself in the foot because someone with the compassionate character that Maxon is supposed to have would know about the sufferings of the lower castes. Because he doesn’t, he comes across as a sheltered moron in one scene and then seems to understand the politics better than America in others. This is poor writing. Another problem is that, frankly, for the book to really work well, the one without power has to be the one chasing the one with power. Naturally, this is ignored so that Cass, and the reader, can live out some kind of princess fantasy where two gorgeous men are chasing her.

America Singer is a Sue. There is no other way to say it. She manages to hit most of the indicators. Whiny, self-centered, beautiful without knowing it in a natural way, and in possession of a singing voice that is far better then the professionals. She literally has the survival instinct of a lemming, and shows the mistake of questioning a system that her entire upbringing would have told her to accept. While this is possible, the rest of her characterization and the fact that no one else questions it makes my Sue-dar go wild. As far as actual personality goes, she’s pretty flat, and only seems to be defined by the men around her. Even the last ditch effort to make her independent falls flat. I wouldn’t call her the most unsympathetic character I’ve come across, but her way of thinking that morality is defined by who and what she doesn’t like is really, really annoying.

Aspen is very much like Daniel from Fallen in that he doesn’t really feature much in the books. Yet, he’s built up as a love rival. You can’t really decide if you like him or not, and America constantly telling us how wonderful he is when their whole relationship seems to be built on this ‘connection’ that they felt when they met as teenagers doesn’t help. He is, however, a very, very selfish person. Why? Because he wants to have a relationship with America in a situation where if they do get caught, it’s very likely she would ‘go to jail’ or possibly be killed. He doesn’t seem to realize this, and even when America calls it off, he’s upset that she doesn’t want to risk her life anymore. Oh, sorry it’s because she wants to be her own decision. She wants to choose which man she builds her life around.

Celeste is our Scary Sue. She is apparently from a very powerful family and looks down on the lower castes. She also is hinted to be trying to sabotage the other girls. In the right hands, she could have been a good villain. As she is now, she’s kind of just there to make America look better. I assume that she’s going to have a purpose in the later books, but I’m not too sure.

America’s family doesn’t feature much, so I’m going to just name them as an entity. Her mother is supposed to be this shallow woman who only cares about her daughter marrying well, while her father is more tolerant. This cliche sometimes can work. Particularly when it’s clear that the family isn’t losing or gaining anything by the daughter marrying well other than status. The problem is, since they’re hungry often, there’s a very good, practical reason for her mother wanting her to marry well. May, the sister, really doesn’t have a point other than to show that America does like someone. Well, sort of. America complains about how May is kind of vapid and thoughtless even though she appears to be about eight. The father doesn’t really appear much, but he’s a weak figure at best, and his presence doesn’t really affect the story one way or the other.

Setting.

In a novel like this, the setting is probably the most important part. Dystopian novels are, first and foremost, allegorical. They are about something, usually an accepted part of society that is blown up out of proportion so that the reader can see what the writer wants them to see without the writer pointing any obvious fingers. The most important thing is it must be something both horrifying and something that you could logically see happening if taken too far. While The Hunger Games had its weaknesses, it was able to talk about something that, taken the extreme, could logically happen. We could desensitize ourselves so much that we could watch children kill one another for entertainment. It’s a stretch but possible.

The Selection doesn’t do that. The entire world doesn’t make sense, and there is nothing here that even sounds like an aspect of society that we have. The majority of Americans don’t have arranged marriages. We don’t have a caste system like this. I could see this as a kind of allegory to reality TV, but that really takes up so little of the book, that it doesn’t matter. In reality, I get the feeling that Cass wanted to write a fantasy novel, noticed that dystopian fiction was more popular at the moment and went with that.

The setting itself, meaning the castle, is not well described. I got the feeling that it was pretty, but that was really about it. There’s no description, no real feel for how the place was planned out and nothing even close to realistic or interesting setting. Most of the people, other than America and Maxon, don’t even talk. They’re just there, and we’re told that America is getting close to them.

Names

America is a stupid name for a character. When naming a character after something, it’s best to think of if other, similar name would sound good. Now, think of a country, any country. Let’s try….Pakistan. Not a good name. How about…Germany. Also, not a good name. England. Not very good either.

From this, I’d say, America sounds just as stupid. I know that it’s fun to make the name unique, but really, it’s better not to give them a name with significant meaning. Look at Katniss. She’s named after a wild potato if I remember right. It has pretty flowers, so it would be like being named Rose, Daisy, Pansy, Lily, or one of the other many, many flower names. It’s pretty, and it has a practical use, but there’s nothing really meaningful about it. And it makes it better when the character has to make themselves stand out.

Castes

The only society that has, or really ever had, a caste system the way we think about them is the Hindu society. I do not practice Hinduism and am not Indian. I know only what my classes have told me, but at the same time, what I’ve read and learned tells me that this whole set up is stupid.

First of all, there is a reason why a caste system exists and what the point of it is. In this, it’s because of how much money was given to the government when it was setting itself up, but that’s not good enough. An arbitrary system like this would have been rebelled against and overthrown very, very quickly. Particularly since soldiers come from lower castes. In the Hindu system it was both created for religious reasons and for an enforced organization of labor, and this system did not just appear overnight. It took a very long time for it to exist in the form that the British found.

Next, the punishment for having a kid out of wedlock or with a person of a different caste is stupid. You get imprisoned. This is a child’s punishment, Cass. You’re writing a dystopian novel! Make it awful. Make so that the woman can’t seek aid and the child’s caste follows the mother. Or have them thrown into the untouchable caste. Personally, I’d do the first, and then have the men from upper castes use this law to ‘populate’ his manor with servants the way that the plantation owners in the South did.

Also, it’s said here that you can buy your way up. It’s not what one would consider dystopian, now is it?

There is so much you can do with a caste system, but this book barely even touched on it.

Makeover Scene and Natural Beauty

In The Hunger Games there was a makeover scene where Katniss, who had always been dirty and poor is done up so that she looks more acceptable to people from the capitol, Panem. This is treated as something of a humiliating scene since she’s frightened and striped down like an animal at the same time there’s a ray of hope in the form of her stylist, Cinna. This makeover and how she’s seen by the people could determine whether or not she lives or dies in the arena. The scenes are kind of boring, but also crucial, so it’s understandable.

The problem is that for this novel, nothing rides on the makeover. America doesn’t want to be there, therefore we don’t really care if she wins or not. If she loses, she just goes back to her life and nothing bad happens. The heroine has nothing, absolutely nothing, to lose, and therefore, the scene is nothing but wish fulfillment to the extreme.

Next, we in America (the country) have a bit of a thing with natural beauty vs. unnatural beauty. Despite the fact that women tend to wear make-up from time to time, style our her and dye it as we get older, people seem to think that a young woman who does these in a novel is Evil TM and some kind of femme fatal. I’m sure it has something to do with (mostly outdated) ideas about how only ‘bad girls’ wear make-up. However, if this had been something cultural, it might have been interesting. I just kind of wish that it had had a point.

Racism

You know, everyone in this story is white. It’s very odd. I suppose I could see some kind of xenophobia towards the Asians and such, but where are the other races? Why is it that all the girls are white? If this was done on purpose to show how bad the government is, it would be pretty clever, but for some reason, I think it was because Cass doesn’t seem to realize that in our projected future, whites are not going to be vast majority. Actually, this whole book kind of makes me wonder if there’s some kind of…ethnic cleansing…that’s taken place.

Themes

I have no clue.

Er…Twu wuv is the most important thing in the whole world, and you should be willing to abandon your family for it. If a woman has any ambition at all, she is an evil harpy who needs to get a good man or will just be miserable. A young woman should only want to marry and settle down.

Now, I have nothing against women who stay at home. If the woman wants to do that, I see no reason to whine at her for bending to the patriarchy, particularly since women are encouraged to work. You should not call them ‘Brainless Bettys” or any of the other names I’ve heard. At the same time, a woman also shouldn’t be sneered at for not wanting to live at home and have babies, which is what this novel does. Blast it all, what is with all the women telling other women to stay in the kitchen?!

Mechanics

The book’s first person as usual, and the narrator’s voice is really kind of dull. I mean, first person is a great POV, particularly when you’re dealing with more introverted characters who have a lot going on inside. It can also be extremely funny, and you can really like the character narrating, but these take all the fun out of the point of view by whining so much.

As far as word choice goes, it’s not as bad as Adorenetto’s ultraviolet prose, but I wouldn’t call it good either. Most of it is pretty forgettable, which is a good thing, but there are occasional jarring sentences and silly word choices. So, while I’ve seen a lot worse, it’s got some problems with it.

History

The treatment of history in this is foolish. In The Hunger Games it’s pretty clear that the government is beating the citizens over the head with the idea that those people who rebelled against the Panem in the past were Very Bad People. This doesn’t do anything like that. America talks about how hard the country America tried to survive, which is why she’s named America. So, if they were so good, why change the name? Look at Brave New World and how the people in that book talked about how backwards and stupid people in this age are. That was clever, and it made sense.

This book should have had a history saying who America’s government was corrupt and lazy and our system was incompetent and how people have to have a king to make the quick decisions. Then, to separate themselves from the past where the government couldn’t protect it’s civilians from China, they changed their name. And make sure that anyone who disagrees is quickly and suddenly silenced and all their words disappear with them. There has to be some kind of reason for a major societal change, and usually the best is to scapegoat the previous government. It’s called propaganda.

Unless of course Cass was scared that people would misinterpret her and think that she was against the country, which is stupid since we walked into this novel with the idea that the system is evil.

Final Assessment.

There is almost no plot, the main character is a whiny little turd, and the only character who shows some kind of potential is the main love interest. I’m sure he’s going to lose that by the next book.

What really annoys me about the whole book is that there are ideas in it that could have been interesting. The caste system, the idea of a competition for girls to move up in the castes as a means to give the general populace hope that they could make their lives better and keep chasing that carrot, and the idea of a rebellion against this society and how the normal people would feel about it are all potentially good topics to explore. All this is trampled over in favor of more romance.

Are there good aspects? Yes, Maxon is tolerable3, and there are moments where Cass can hold some tension during the rebel assaults. There is also build up to other novels and questions that Cass doesn’t answer but makes important enough for you to care somewhat about. But thanks to the flat, boring voice of the narrator, who’s far more interested in her bleeding heart than the world around her, these aspects are mostly ignored.

All in all, The Selection is a novel of wasted potential, stays too close to the idea of The Hunger Games to be have any originally, and has an author who seems afraid to use her setting to its fullest. If you must read it, don’t be surprised if you end up disappointed.

Since this is elections, I just can’t let you go without some kind of shameless advertisement. So who am I voting for this year?

They have plot.

(Rating: 3 of 10)

Next: The House of Night: Marked

1 Seriously, the statistics are completely against her. At least she should be humble enough to not just assume that she’s going to win.

2 Despite the fact that it would be easier to go by plane. The reason isn’t discussed. I assume that it’s because Katniss did it in The Hunger Games.

3 I have to admit that the bar for YA love interests is set pretty low at the moment though.

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Comment

  1. Creature_NIL on 25 October 2012, 22:03 said:

    Ugh…
    The whole time you were summarizing this I kept thinking that it was like the author was ripping of the Bachelor and the book of Esther from the Bible.

    At least biblical times at that age were interesting and suspenseful; if the king wanted a wife, he’d gather up all the young beautiful virgins, even if they lived in a different kingdom and were only visiting relatives (an admittedly seldom occurence). He would ‘try them out’, sometimes against their will, and if he liked one he took her as his wife. If he didn’t like them then the would become one of his concubines, and stayed in the palace.

    Someone did a beautiful story about this that was really dark, dramatic and suspenseful. It did justice to that era; and the corrupt prince had his way with whomever he wished.

    I apologize for the ranting, I’m writing on an ipod, and that always gets my goat. (`へ´)

  2. swenson on 25 October 2012, 23:38 said:

    Wow. That was so incredibly shallow I don’t quite know how to react to it.

    So… what exact demographic is this trying to hit? Shallow teenage girls? I don’t think they like dystopian fiction too much. Dystopian fiction lovers? Then I think it needs a lot more dystopia. It’s all just kind of… well… dumb. And pointless. And completely plotless.

  3. Kyllorac on 26 October 2012, 00:48 said:

    We don’t have arranged marriages.

    Actually, a fair number of Americans do. It’s not as common as marrying for love, but it’s not as uncommon as you might think, especially in areas with large Middle Eastern, Asian, and Indian populations. I’m in one myself, as are quite a few others in my area. There’s also historical precedence for arranged marriages in American history, going back to colonial times.

    The only society that has, or really ever had, a caste system is the Hindu society.

    Also incorrect. Several other South Asian cultures, not all of them Hindu, have had caste systems, and numerous other cultures have had systems that could be best described as caste-like (Japan being one of them).

    Despite the fact that we all wear make-up

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t, unless I’m onstage or need to look especially nice.

    Basically, watch the over-generalizations.

  4. Danielle on 26 October 2012, 01:26 said:

    Wow. Like swenson said, that was incredibly shallow.

    And it could have been awesome—or, at the very least, somewhat compelling. I love how quickly everyone has jumped on the dystopian trend. It’s like every single book that takes place in a country that’s somewhat unpleasant is now a dystopia.

    Actually, by that definition, some aspects of the US could lend themselves to a dystopian novel, even if they were played without hyperbole. It all depends on perspective. So I guess what I’m trying to say is: Ilea doesn’t sound that bad. It sounds like….well, like something I probably would have written when I was fourteen. Something that would have been fed to my shredder two years later.

    Also, China most likely wouldn’t go to war with us. They’d probably just call in all our debt at once. Invading a country because they owe you money isn’t really all that practical, especially if said country is a major trading partner of yours. Furthermore, if it was the US who declared war on China, then that is also very stupid. You don’t walk up to a guy you owe money to and punch him in the face.

    Next: The House of Night: Marked

    Hoo boy. One of the most popular books at the high school I work at right now. I couldn’t stomach more than a chapter before deciding I’d rather bathe in raw sewage than read any further.

    Good luck. You are SO going to need it.

  5. LoneWolf on 26 October 2012, 04:06 said:

    Uz-Becky-Stan?

  6. Tim on 26 October 2012, 04:35 said:

    However, at the same time, Cass shoots herself in the foot because someone with the compassionate character that Maxon is supposed to have would know about the sufferings of the lower castes.

    I don’t know, a decent author could make a compassionate guy who honestly doesn’t understand that the system doesn’t work because he’s looking at it from the top down and underlings seeking to impress him always make sure everything looks perfect and orderly wherever he goes. He’s lived in a bubble of perfection and has no idea it’s floating in an ocean of sludge.

    Still not very dystopian, but hey.

    Also, royals usually didn’t care all that much what they looked like outside state occasions since in an absolute monarchy you can just have anyone who doesn’t like how you look messily killed for treason. So Maxon would probably not be a hunk of hunks who benchpresses trains while farting rainbows.

    This is forgotten as Maxon suddenly makes an announcement that he’s going to raise taxes to help the poor. This is, as to be expected, not really taken well. It’s also political suicide, since, judging by the middle ages, to rule, the king needs the support of either the nobles, (the upper castes) the people, (the lower castes) or religion.

    More to the point, if they’re feudal lords they’re the ones who collect the taxes, so increasing taxes is just going to increase the amount they demand from the peasants.

    America is a stupid name for a character.

    Erm…

    Not quite, but still.

    America talks about how hard the country America tried to survive, which is why she’s named America.

    This is a common issue with dystopian fiction, actually; to an extent it’s even present in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and I believe Orwell admitted that a person like Julia should never have been able to exist if the government’s control is as complete as it’s supposed to be.

    In crummy dystopian fiction this becomes a state where the attitudes the society is built on are held by everyone except the characters the reader is supposed to identify with. You can also see this in shitty historical fiction where everyone has the attitudes they should have except the extremely progressive for no reason protagonist, who has attitudes suspiciously similar to those of, say, a writer of shitty historical fiction.

    It comes of the author thinking the reader is too stupid to infer how terrible the society they’re depicting is, and so requiring an out-of-place character to notice it and point it out.

  7. Pryotra on 26 October 2012, 08:58 said:

    The whole time you were summarizing this I kept thinking that it was like the author was ripping of the Bachelor and the book of Esther from the Bible.

    In a lot of ways, she is. Only Esther did a whole lot more and she tended not to whine about it.

    So… what exact demographic is this trying to hit? Shallow teenage girls? I don’t think they like dystopian fiction too much. Dystopian fiction lovers? Then I think it needs a lot more dystopia. It’s all just kind of… well… dumb. And pointless. And completely plotless.

    I think that it’s shallow teenage girls who think that they’re deep teenage girls, but I’m not sure. Whoever they are, they’re buying it.

    Basically, watch the over-generalizations.

    Sorry. I was more focus on the America that the author would know rather than the America that actually exists and mostly making a point that this isn’t enough for a dystopian novel. I actually know a girl who’s in an arranged marriage, and she seems pretty happy with things.

    I was more referring to a straight caste system that no one could leave, but yeah, I was probably being a little over general. I’ll edit it a little.

    They’d probably just call in all our debt at once.

    That was my first thought. I also love the thought that Russia didn’t get involved despite the fact that Russia and China are allies and agreed that if someone attacks the other one, than the other will come to their aid. A war with China would be a very bad idea on all fronts.

    I’d rather bathe in raw sewage than read any further.

    Honestly, I’ve been reading the thing, and getting my teeth pulled without Novocaine would be more fun. I

    I don’t know, a decent author could make a compassionate guy who honestly doesn’t understand that the system doesn’t work because he’s looking at it from the top down and underlings seeking to impress him always make sure everything looks perfect and orderly wherever he goes. He’s lived in a bubble of perfection and has no idea it’s floating in an ocean of sludge.

    That would work if the author hadn’t made it clear that he tries to learn things for himself and is more of a scholarly character. Which is why it was so jarring when it only appeared in one scene and then disappeared. In the hands of a good author, this could have been a nice flaw, but we’re not dealing with a good author.

    So Maxon would probably not be a hunk of hunks who benchpresses trains while farting rainbows.

    But then he wouldn’t be worthy of America’s love! He must be the most beautiful man to after be born.

    It comes of the author thinking the reader is too stupid to infer how terrible the society they’re depicting is, and so requiring an out-of-place character to notice it and point it out.

    Yeah, I’ve read that before. It’s really, really stupid, and, apparently, it’s so common that How Not to Write a Novel talked about it.

  8. swenson on 26 October 2012, 09:01 said:

    More to the point, if they’re feudal lords they’re the ones who collect the taxes, so increasing taxes is just going to increase the amount they demand from the peasants.

    Yeah, I was kind of confused about how raising taxes (which increases the burden on the citizenry) would help anyone. Typically when people are poor, everyone cries out for lower taxes. (In modern times, there are certainly cases where raising taxes could be seen as good for the poor because the money would support welfare programs, but I don’t know why a dystopia that deliberately keeps lower castes poor would actually have welfare programs.)

    Maybe only the evil rich upper castes will be taxed? But then we run into the same problem Pryotra mentioned, he’s alienating the important noble classes that the royal family probably needs for support. I suppose it makes sense if he’s incredibly naive, but you’d think he would’ve figured this one out already.

    except the extremely progressive for no reason protagonist

    The reason is usually because the author is terrified people will think they’re racist/sexist/whatever because the main character subscribes to contemporary (for their time, not ours) beliefs about women needing to stay in the kitchen, superiority of white people, hatred for immigrants, whatever. (assuming, of course, this is a historical novel with a white European protagonist, which it always is) It’s true that having a character with realistic historical beliefs could veer into Unfortunate Implications theory because this is supposed to be our hero whose beliefs we all espouse, after all, but I feel like there’s gotta be some reasonable balance between “totally unlikable to modern audiences” and “completely ridiculous from a historical perspective”.

    It’s really, really stupid, and, apparently, it’s so common that How Not to Write a Novel talked about it.

    Aha! I knew I’d read something on that subject recently. How Not to Write a Novel is great.

    Re: Kyllorac’s remarks on arranged marriages: true, but I think Pryotra meant among most Americans of European origin, which seems to be all that populates this world (yes, I’m sure that’s an exaggeration!). Regardless, I can still see such a system arising in the future, it’s just not all that common today (for people of European origin).

  9. Pryotra on 26 October 2012, 11:22 said:

    I suppose it makes sense if he’s incredibly naive, but you’d think he would’ve figured this one out already.

    That’s one of the real problems with the book. Maxon seems fairly savvy at when discussing the rebels and the point of the whole Selection, and then, when this issue comes up, he acts like he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    I honestly think that Cass hadn’t thought that far ahead.

  10. Brendan Rizzo on 26 October 2012, 11:48 said:

    See this? This is why you shouldn’t base a work of fiction on The Bachelor.

    Also, China most likely wouldn’t go to war with us. They’d probably just call in all our debt at once.

    Actually, very little of U.S. debt is owed to China. That being said, the chances of a war between the two countries happening is pretty slim.

    To be honest, I’m surprised that in a dystopian setting the main character’s mother was even allowed to name her daughter the name of the country from before the regime change. I’d think that the government would think this means her family are rebels, and would deal with them as such. Definitely not let their daughter have a chance with the future ruler.

    And wouldn’t a competition like this be rigged so that only the daughters of noble families would win?

  11. Fell Blade on 26 October 2012, 12:19 said:

    America is so naturally beautiful all she needs is some styling while all the other girls get dye jobs, extensions, highlights, and whatever else to make them equal her natural beauty

    Ok, in the Hunger Games Cinna’s choice to go more natural made sense because he wanted Katniss and Peeta to stand out from the rest of the Tributes. It was a part of the strategy, to make them immediately conspicuous and easy to remember. If you’re going to copy something, at least try to grasp the reason behind it…

    So, after that, Maxon starts taking the girls on individual dates, and visiting America in her bedroom unsupervised.

    Somebody’s been watching too many episodes of “The Bachelor”.

    shaming Celeste, whose only heinous deed so far is spilling wine on a girl’s dress

    Oh, maybe I was wrong about the Bachelor thing if that’s the worst Cass can come up with…

    This is promptly forgotten the moment that America finds Aspen, now a member of the royal guard.

    I was wrong, she’s been watching “One Night with the King”. Actually, this book sounds like a pretty bad rip off of the story of Esther as seen through the eyes of Hollywood. Hmmm… The Hunger Games meets the Bible… Interesting.

    Also, Rogers/Stark ticket should definitely be a write in option! =D

  12. Epke on 26 October 2012, 12:53 said:

    Hmm… it’s like America’s Next Top Model mated with the Bachelor and trying to groom the offspring into the Hunger Games. I don’t know if it’s because young adult males don’t tend to read as much as females of the same age group, but I’m seriously dying for a male protagonist now – I can’t handle many more Randomnamehere-who-gets-the-most-speshul-boy-ever.

    From reading this: this is a boring book. It’s flat (probably like America, because we know any female character with more than a plank-chest is EVIL), it has no interesting points to bring up, the characters are all run-of-the-mill (I am guessing that America’s relationship to Maxon will make him a better ruler that the people all love, because we’ve never seen that before!) and… and… oh god, it’s so boring it’s sapping my brainpower! Agh!

  13. swenson on 26 October 2012, 12:56 said:

    If you’re going to copy something, at least try to grasp the reason behind it…

    The Theme Park Version!

    This is the same problem that a lot of rip-off or “inspired by” works run into. They say “X is really cool. I want to create Y and make Y just as cool. The things I think are most cool about X are A, B, and C, so if I add them to Y, Y will be cool too!” But that’s not how it works. You need to understand why A, B, and C are in X and how they all fit together.

    Case in point, probably one of the best, is the whole Nineties Anti-Hero trope from comics. In the 80s, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns came out, both of which are pretty dark deconstructions of what it’s like to be a superhero in a realistic world where realistic consequences exist. Both are phenomenal reads. But everyone went “These are so cool! It must be because they’re so grim and gritty!”, completely missing the point of both works—that the grim and grittiness isn’t a good thing and has serious, long-lasting effects. A similar thing is happening here.

  14. Kyllorac on 26 October 2012, 13:21 said:

    Regardless, I can still see such a system arising in the future, it’s just not all that common today (for people of European origin).

    I think you (and Cass) would be surprised how many people of European descent are in arranged marriages in the USA. ;P As I mentioned before, it’s not as uncommon as many people believe.

    But everyone went “These are so cool! It must be because they’re so grim and gritty!”, completely missing the point of both works

    THIS. SO MUCH.

    And then that mentality invaded the fantasy and sci-fi genres and made Kyll most unhappy.

  15. Pryotra on 26 October 2012, 17:27 said:

    I’m seriously dying for a male protagonist now – I can’t handle many more Randomnamehere-who-gets-the-most-speshul-boy-ever.

    Don’t worry, after Marked I’m going to review Beautiful Creatures! It’s got a male protagonist who gets the most speshul girl ever!

    But everyone went “These are so cool! It must be because they’re so grim and gritty!”, completely missing the point of both works—that the grim and grittiness isn’t a good thing and has serious, long-lasting effects. A similar thing is happening here.

    I have to agree. That’s pretty much the problem with almost all the dystopian novels that followed the Hunger Games Trilogy. They comprehend certain parts of it as being cool, but they don’t realize that it’s only within the context that it’s a good idea. If it doesn’t really have a point, than don’t do it.

    Also…I kind of think that romance doesn’t really justify a story. I mean, I like a nice romance in my fantasy novels, but I want that romance to kind of play second fiddle to the main plot. I get bored with stories that focus to heavily on it when there are other, more important, things going on.

  16. Fireshark on 26 October 2012, 17:35 said:

    I’m getting a little out of it with YA. Has dystopian fiction managed to kill paranormal romance yet? Or do they sort of coexist?

  17. Epke on 26 October 2012, 18:43 said:

    Don’t worry, after Marked I’m going to review Beautiful Creatures! It’s got a male protagonist who gets the most speshul girl ever!

    /starts crying.

    I’m getting a little out of it with YA. Has dystopian fiction managed to kill paranormal romance yet? Or do they sort of coexist?

    From what I’ve been able to tell at the local and not-so-local bookstores, paranormal romance is still in the lead. It’s much easier to write about than a dystoptian future and hey, add one pinch of Plane Jane, a dash of Supernatural Male, stir it with a spoonful of Small Town and then add everything that’s sweet*! (And some Chemical X) Instant success! Though I have to say that right now, almost every store has a special display case just for Fifty Shades but that’s neither paranormal or dystopian. It’s just the watered down and sexified version of American Psycho, but SMeyer’s works are still on display too with big signs and places of honour on the shelves, so…

    *Sweet in this case means misogynistic and rapey.

  18. Fireshark on 26 October 2012, 18:48 said:

    FSoG isn’t YA though… OR IS IT?

  19. Tim on 26 October 2012, 18:51 said:

    Well, considering YA is usually publisher-speak for writing without all those pesky standards, it basically is.

  20. Fireshark on 26 October 2012, 18:56 said:

    I loved YA novels a few years ago. Do you think they’ve deteriorated since they became so profitable, or do I just have rose-tinted glasses on?

  21. Prince O'Tea on 26 October 2012, 19:25 said:

    The book sounds pretty vile on every level. A Miley Cyrus flavoured dystopia. The Bachelor plus Fifty Shades of Grey plus The Hunger Games plus The Princess Diaries? It sounds like so much like an attempt to ride current trends that it’s kind of stomach churning.

    Also America Singer? Seriously? What editor let that through? Anastasia Steele was bad enough because it sounded like a high class escort (fitting since she accepts lavish gifts in exchange for cherry popping and sexytime).

    Also does the book present us with a reason why we are supposed to like America? Because America’s attempts to badmouth Celese make me wonder if they’re both as bad as each other, but only America the Suetiful is good because she’s simply the main. It’s also cute to know that she’s willing to let her family starve for a man she forgets pretty quickly. I guess you can still be a spoilt, capricious brat even when you’re dirt poor.

    Also, why would Entertainer be a caste? All you need to do is watch The Osbournes to do know artistic talents don’t seem to be hereditary.

    Also, where is the dystopia? Most of it sounds like it was slapped onto a straight forward fairy tale romance to sound more “edgy” even though it really doesn’t seem to add much to the book, and seems to be used as “its magic” rather then actually justify America suddenly deciding it would be better off with a fancy new name and monarchy.

    The thing is, all of this could have been interesting. China used to have big searches to find noble maidens for the Emperor’s 3000 strong harem in the Forbidden City, and any concubine who didn’t know her place or was caught in her desperate measures to charm the king would expect torture or execution. There don’t seem to be any consequences for anything America does.

    Oh and violently attacking someone for calling you a dear? Not cute or sassy or you go girl, just someone with major attitude problems. Especially since America doesn’t seem to have anything in her pretty little head besides the desire to play dress up and play hide the royal sausage.

  22. Prince O'Tea on 26 October 2012, 19:31 said:

    Also, I am wondering with the lack of other races that you mentioned. I hope they make something out of this, because one of the things I liked about the Hunger Games was that they made Panem pretty cosmopolitan, which is something I would expect regarding America’s population today. I mean, there does seem to be an unspoken rule that heirs to the throne are only allowed to date and marry white people (unfortunately and the Manchu dynasties of China would only marry Manchu women rather then the Han Chinese), but I can’t see why any a modern despot royal family would adhere to that rule, unless a corrupt family established themselves as The Royals. There is almost nothing in the books that justifies the dystopian setting, besides What is Cool Right Now.

  23. Danielle on 26 October 2012, 19:45 said:

    You know, ever since I learned about this book, I’ve been wondering what it reminds me of.

    Now I know.

    You know a book is bad when you learn it’s an almost straight ripoff of a direct-to-video Barbie movie….and that the Barbie version was better.

    I need to babysit girls with better taste in movies.

  24. Tim on 26 October 2012, 21:09 said:

    Princess Artist Not Provided? Is that Prince’s daughter?

  25. Prince O'Tea on 26 October 2012, 22:18 said:

    Call it a hunch, but a Dystopia where you can violently assault and mouth off the heir to the throne with impunity doesn’t sound like a dystopia at all. In fact, it sounds better then it is now, where almost throwing a custard pie at Rupert Murdoch can get you several weeks in prison. Least threatening dystopia ever? Aside from the grinding poverty, it seems like they let the unwashed masses do whatever the fuck they want (and not even like Nineteen Eighty Four when Proles who show any form of intelligence or independent thought are quietly eliminated and the rest are left alone.)

  26. Master Chief on 27 October 2012, 02:55 said:

    uhhh, I think this just set the record for dumb. Really, out of all the books done here in II, this is the dumbest in my opinion.

  27. Taku on 27 October 2012, 05:51 said:

    The caste system sounds more like something from a Hollywood imagining of High School than any functional political system. Instead of the Geeks, the Goths, the Jocks and the Preps, you have the Entertainers, the Poor People, the Rich Elite, the Manual Labourers, various levels of Skilled Workers and so on.

    Could be interesting if the implications and functioning were explored in more detail, but of course the interesting parts of the society are almost completely skipped over.

    Anyway, I thought historically entertainers/bards/troubadours etc. were generally ‘outside’ the caste system? A class of their own, able to mingle with and between all the other castes. There was an interesting set-up in Robin Hobb’s Assassin trilogy where bards and troubadours were officially-sanctioned record-keepers due to their long memories for detail and their ability to move anywhere in the country freely (it was an especially heinous crime in the Assassin world to attack a bard, if I remember right) and mix with all kind of people regardless of social standing. That was interesting, and might have provided some background for why this protagonist is able to so naturally question the system – being effectively external to it, she would have been able to see its flaws much better than someone within it.

  28. Tim on 27 October 2012, 06:55 said:

    I would think there’d be a certain amount of social mobility to being an entertainer, but not an unlimited amount. I doubt His Lordship would give a peasant who said they could tell good stories anything but the back of his hand for daring to speak to him. You’d probably have to start somewhere closer to the top than the bottom if you ever wanted to end up as a court entertainer rather than just the standard bawdy crowds of sweaty hairy people.

  29. Prince O'Tea on 27 October 2012, 07:41 said:

    Exactly. What’s the point in having a caste system if the smelly commoners can not only move their way up, but actually have a chance at becoming the Queen? Any real life selections for royal concubines/harems/concubines typically only had noble maidens for candidates. Everything about this dystopia is so relaxed, it seems impossible to even call it a dystopia, because it seems like you can do whatever the hell you want without any real consequences.

    Also, for someone who is supposed to have known a lifetime of poverty, danger and starvation, America seems lazy, self-indulgent, naive and capricious. An attitude like hers does not come from having to do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your family alive and out of danger, it comes from a childhood of not eating your broccoli but getting to eat your dessert anyway.

  30. Licht on 27 October 2012, 08:59 said:

    How about…Germany.


    She’s not amused.

    like the author was ripping of the Bachelor and the book of Esther from the Bible.

    That, very much. But remixing like that doesn’t have to be something bad per se. It can work out well enough. Just to have mentioned it.

    The House of Night

    I remember years ago at Frankfurt Bookfair being handed a flyer advertising it. It looked nice enough and had one of those washable tattoos attached to it. Many of the younger girls decided on the spot they wanted to read that book. Marketing worked.

  31. Master Chief on 27 October 2012, 13:57 said:

    @licht I thought Germany was a he, which is why its called the fatherland.

  32. Brendan Rizzo on 27 October 2012, 14:20 said:

    The caste system sounds more like something from a Hollywood imagining of High School than any functional political system. Instead of the Geeks, the Goths, the Jocks and the Preps, you have the Entertainers, the Poor People, the Rich Elite, the Manual Labourers, various levels of Skilled Workers and so on.

    Oh my God, a society based on high school. Now we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  33. Danielle on 27 October 2012, 14:26 said:

    Oh my God, a society based on high school. Now we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Oh dear.

  34. Licht on 27 October 2012, 14:45 said:

    @ Master Chief:

    The personification of Germany is indeed a she, dating back to the roman imperial period. Germania, that’s the lovely lady above. Usually she’s depicted as a mixture of valkyrie and loving mother.

    As far as I know, Vaterland (fatherland) was used in a sense of: “land that belonged to your father” (meaning the property, not the country you came from), until later it was used as a translation of the Latin “patria” and more and more in its sense. And that’s basically how we use it today.

  35. Finn on 27 October 2012, 15:11 said:

    Naming someone after a country makes me think of Hetalia.
    Also, I remember there was once a girl I sort of knew named Ireland, and I think her sister was named China. Ireland has quite a nice ring to it, though.
    Also, I can’t feeling that by naming her oh-so-perfect character America, she’s alienated readers from other countries. And I definitely agree than in a real dystopia, her family wouldn’t be allowed to name her that anyways.

  36. Prince O' Tea on 27 October 2012, 15:43 said:

    And I thought Stephenie Meyer took criticism badly…

    http://www.themidnightgarden.net/2012/05/breaking-silence-selection-debacle.html

    Robert Stanek’s long lost sister?

  37. Pryotra on 27 October 2012, 15:59 said:

    And I thought Stephenie Meyer took criticism badly…

    Oh my…

    I had no idea about this, or I would have mentioned it. Her behavior was atrocious. Geez what is it with YA authors and not being able to take criticism?

  38. Prince O' Tea on 27 October 2012, 16:40 said:

    Her attitude is pretty disgusting, isn’t it? She really doesn’t deserve the moderate success she is currently enjoying,if she takes the Stanek Tesch approach to critics.

  39. Licht on 27 October 2012, 17:43 said:

    How old is she?

  40. Tim on 27 October 2012, 18:40 said:

    and one person writes that blaming her for her employee’s actions (and her failure to stop them, I might add) is equivalent to “blaming ever(y) Muslim for 9/11 or every American for the bombing of Hiroshima.”

    Grasp of reality not found.

    In the first instance, it’s like blaming bin Laden for 9/11. In the second, what kind of historically illiterate weeaboo moron do you have to be to compare 9/11 directly to Hiroshima?

  41. Mark on 27 October 2012, 19:23 said:

    In the first instance, it’s like blaming bin Laden for 9/11. In the second, what kind of historically illiterate weeaboo moron do you have to be to compare 9/11 directly to Hiroshima?

    The same kind of weeaboo moron who picks fights over something like that?

    Just sayin’.

  42. Tim on 27 October 2012, 19:42 said:

    That doesn’t make any sense.

  43. Mark on 27 October 2012, 19:45 said:

    I was just calling you a….what was that word you used? A weeaboo moron? Yeah, I was calling you that for picking a fight over a comment no one but you seems to remember.

    Now THAT doesn’t make any sense.

  44. Tim on 27 October 2012, 20:12 said:

    So you’re calling me a name you don’t know the meaning of over a comment you don’t understand? If you think there’s any equivalency between 9/11 and Hiroshima (aside from that people died and planes were involved) you are a moron with no grasp of history. If you think Hiroshima was some uniquely horrible act then you’ve bought into the Japanese nationalist version of history that tries to depict Imperial Japan as a victim of Western aggression rather than a vicious aggressor that killed more people in China than died in the Holocaust. Protip: the firebombing of Tokyo killed more people than either atomic bomb did, but it doesn’t set Japan up as a uniquely victimised nation so the nationalists basically ignore it.

    If you’ve internalized a bunch of Japanese nationalist historical revisionism, you are a stupid weeaboo.

  45. Mark on 27 October 2012, 20:21 said:

    I’m just wondering why you’re getting so worked up about it. Does the knowledge that a random person on the internet whom you will probably never meet doesn’t understand history the same way you do affect your life in any way? Does the knowledge that such a person exists and is allowed to state his/her opinion keep you awake at night? Will the existence of this person and his/her right to free speech affect your family, your friends, or your livlihood?

    Not saying you don’t have a right to your opinion. Just suggesting you take a deep breath and put things in perspective.

  46. Prince O' Tea on 27 October 2012, 20:26 said:

    Licht she looks like she’s anywhere in her thirties/forties. Either way she is old enough to have children.

    For someone who writes about princesses and pretty dresses, her response to critics isn’t very classy, to say the least.

  47. Danielle on 27 October 2012, 20:33 said:

    And I thought Stephenie Meyer took criticism badly…

    I read about that. I actually found out about it on Goodreads when I saw other reviewers talking about Wendy Darling’s review which apparently caused Cass no shortage of consternation.

    Her cheekiness made me want to punch her.

  48. Mark on 27 October 2012, 20:38 said:

    Geez what is it with YA authors and not being able to take criticism?

    Maybe they know that their books suck and don’t want anyone confirming it.

  49. Tim on 27 October 2012, 20:46 said:

    Mark, why are you defending the author’s fans demonstrating they have no grasp of reality, exactly? Anyone who equates bad PR with the deaths of thousands deserves to be mocked ruthlessly wherever they go. Anyone who attracts that kind of person as a fan should feel very deeply ashamed of themselves. Anyone who thinks Hiroshima is the worst thing the US Army Air Force did to Japan needs to put down the animes and open up a history book.

  50. Mark on 27 October 2012, 20:50 said:

    I never defended anyone. I never even read the comment you’re so angry about. (And I’ve figured out by this time that you’ll probably get angry over that fact too. I couldn’t care less.) All I’m saying is that I think you’re getting too worked up over something you read on the internet.

  51. Prince O' Tea on 27 October 2012, 21:10 said:

    If they didn’t want people to give them crappy reviews, they shouldn’t write such obviously crappy books. She wrote a book actually pitched as “The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor”. What on earth made her think she was writing serious literature and not formulaic fluff?

  52. Tim on 27 October 2012, 21:23 said:

    Mark, criticising style over substance is a logical fallacy. Whether or not you think I’m angry is irrelevant. Whether or not you think I have a right to be angry or is also irrelevant. Either say something of value or go away.

  53. Mark on 27 October 2012, 21:44 said:

    Why are beating me at this “debate” and punishing me for losing so important to you, anyhow?

  54. Mark on 27 October 2012, 21:47 said:

    I mean, really. If someone said “Dude, I think you’re getting a little too worked up over this,” I wouldn’t get SO angry over it that I made it my mission in life to prove them wrong, whipping out the old logical fallacy argument and treating them like they hit my sister.

    Again, why is winning this so important to you?

  55. Kyllorac on 27 October 2012, 22:24 said:

    Boys, debating whether or not debating over the internet is a worthwhile pursuit is way off topic. Back on topic now.

  56. Mark on 27 October 2012, 22:37 said:

    You’re right. Sorry; I got a little carried away there. No hard feelings, Tim?

  57. Fireshark on 27 October 2012, 23:13 said:

    From now on, I’m posting this at the slightest provocation.

  58. Danielle on 27 October 2012, 23:19 said:

    ^That is AWESOME!

  59. Epke on 28 October 2012, 06:23 said:

    Her attitude is pretty disgusting, isn’t it? She really doesn’t deserve the moderate success she is currently enjoying,if she takes the Stanek Tesch approach to critics.

    It is indeed. Especially since Wendy Darling isn’t a professional reviewer and didn’t give it a bad rating because she was, to quote Cass’ agent: “a bitch”. But no, if you’re a New York Times bestselling author (this is what she claims anyway, but I can’t find the list it was on), you can NOT be criticised on the internet.

    How old is she?

    Couldn’t find an exact date of birth, but apparently she “grew up during the 80s” so she can’t be that old – certainly not older than EL James, and her son was two years old when her book was published. So late twenties to mid-thirties, perhaps?

    Now, to make things more disturbing: the Selection was made into a TV series, but it failed to be picked up by the CW. I am sure we are all heartbroken.

  60. Tim on 28 October 2012, 06:43 said:

    But no, if you’re a New York Times bestselling author (this is what she claims anyway, but I can’t find the list it was on), you can NOT be criticised on the internet.

    Yes, anyone who criticises anything should have their motives, authority, tone and right to say anything about anything attacked. Under no circumstances should you look at what they’re actually saying.

    Isn’t that right, Mark?

  61. Taku on 28 October 2012, 07:08 said:

    Drop it, Tim.

    Drop it like it’s hot.

    late twenties to mid-thirties, perhaps?

    That makes it worse. I’d expect it from a teenager too young/inexperienced to know better, but late twenties is too old for that excuse. mid thirties even more so.

    I am consistently saddened at how many self-published writers display no sense of professional conduct or even common courtesy in marketing or publicity. It should be simple, don’t attack your reviewers. Common sense.

  62. Tim on 28 October 2012, 07:12 said:

    Thing is they’re all special little snowflakes. Their generic story #33a that rips off a more popular franchise is beyond reproach because they were the ones who spent the time writing a first draft and then, um…

    A first draft! It was hard, you guys!

  63. Taku on 28 October 2012, 07:28 said:

    Tim, that reminds me of one of Tesch’s sockpuppets, who came on here and started arguing something along the lines of “you people edit and rewrite and pick at it and take such a long time, you’ll be 80 before you publish anything!”

    I can’t remember if anyone did, but I dearly wanted to reply “But it would have been worth publishing”.

    As Treebeard might say, it takes a long time to write anything in Old Entish, and one shouldn’t publish anything unless it’s worth taking a long time to write.

    If you saw the film, you just read that bit in Treebeard’s voice. I know I did.

  64. Mark on 28 October 2012, 11:17 said:

    Tim, I said I was sorry. I acknowledged that I got carried away. I’m prepared to drop it and move on, completely ignoring each other if need be. It’s in the past now. What more do you want?

    Anyways….

    “you people edit and rewrite and pick at it and take such a long time, you’ll be 80 before you publish anything!”

    If you write something that absolutely NEEDS to be published right away, then you are relying on current trends in one way or another. Journalism is an example of that in its extreme form—and it only works because the news changes so quickly that a story that’s current now may not be current in an hour. The publishing industry also changes and evolves, but doing what journalists do and hastily writing and editing your story to get it published before the trends change is a very, very bad idea. As this novel has demonstrated.

  65. Brendan Rizzo on 28 October 2012, 12:54 said:

    If you write something that absolutely NEEDS to be published right away, then you are relying on current trends in one way or another. Journalism is an example of that in its extreme form—and it only works because the news changes so quickly that a story that’s current now may not be current in an hour. The publishing industry also changes and evolves, but doing what journalists do and hastily writing and editing your story to get it published before the trends change is a very, very bad idea. As this novel has demonstrated.

    Perhaps she did that because she knows that if she had actually taken the time to revise her story, and took long enough that the dystopian genre (though this barely qualifies as such) is no longer the next big thing, then her novel would actually be judged on its own merits instead of riding the coattails of a best-seller.

  66. Prince O' Tea on 28 October 2012, 16:23 said:

    By the way I was at a convention today, and I think I saw someone who was cosplaying as America Singer. Or at the very least, their outfit really looked like the one worn by the front cover model.

    To be fair, it is a very pretty dress, and most people agree the pretty cover is the only good thing about the book. What do they say about judging books by their… blurb, was it?

  67. Nate Winchester on 14 November 2012, 18:44 said:

    We could be listening to the whiny narrative of a seventeen year old girl as she complains about being catapulted into wealth and riches.

    Which is pretty much the entire plot of The Selection.

    That… actually does sound like election day. How timely!

    So how is this worse?

    I wonder if Cass would feel as clever if the girl’s name was Uzbekistan. Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

    Heh, I so want to play a “pick the worse name” game. Turkmenistan. Madagascar. Albuquerque. Seattle.

    Maxon seems to be the very first polite love interest that I’ve dealt with, and America is just coming off as a brat.

    That’s not exactly encouraging guys to be very decent, is it?

    Shallow teenage girls?

    In other words… teenage girls? ;)

    I feel like there’s gotta be some reasonable balance between “totally unlikable to modern audiences” and “completely ridiculous from a historical perspective”.

    Because modern audiences are so historically ignorant they just can’t accept anything morally complex.

    almost every store has a special display case just for Fifty Shades but that’s neither paranormal or dystopian. It’s just the watered down and sexified version of American Psycho, but SMeyer’s works are still on display too with big signs and places of honour on the shelves, so…

    I dunno… sounds like dystopia to me. Oh wait, that’s nonfiction.

  68. swenson on 23 January 2013, 18:14 said:

    So apparently the pilot for a show made of this actually exists. The first try failed miserably (because the story, as we all learned here, is stupid), but they’re making another one. For some reason.

    :headdesk:

  69. princesselwen on 4 June 2015, 15:18 said:

    I know this is late, but if you want a good example of the ‘prince has to choose a wife from a group of girls,’ plot, try Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy. It was very good.