Takeaway: To work within to transform the system or fight outside the system, that is the question.
I was less than thrilled with the first book in this series, The Selection. It is a mix between a Hunger Games dystopian-lite and the bachelor with a young adult romance candy on top. (A prince is required by law to use a bachelor type game show to choose his bride in a dystopian North America.)
But there was enough in the book that I went ahead and got the second book (these are audiobooks from the library, so I am not investing too much here.) While I was frustrated at the beginning with the ‘why would he like me, I am just a nobody’ vibe, it did get better.
The problem with these books is that there needs to be enough conflict and tension to keep you interested. And for significant parts of this book and even more the last book it feels like this was extended into a trilogy for no real purpose. So to create tension America (the protagonist) has to continually invent (usually through a type of low self esteem focused angst about the fact that he couldn’t possibly love her) way to keep them apart. Even Prince Maxon complains that she is creating conflict in order to give herself an excuse to not trust him.
That being said, I get that she doesn’t want to have to complete for the guy. She doesn’t want to be a future Queen. If it were just him, then she would be much more invested in the relationship. My internal relationship therapist wants to get them in a room and force them to talk. They won’t talk to one another about anything important so of course they don’t quite trust one another.
As a 40 year old guy (and not the target 16 year old girl) I don’t know if the angst and distrust and inability to communicate anything real is an accurate depiction of a teen girl or if it is a sexist stereotype. There are occasional points where I feel like it falls too nicely into traditional gender roles. And there is a level of catty-ness that seems like it could be true, but still is more teen tv drama, than real life in feel.
Beauty Queens was a very different take on the teen girl catty-ness, but it balanced itself by being infused with humor. You knew that the author was intentionally playing with stereotypes. The Elite didn’t have enough humor and so the stereotypes and catty-ness seemed more prescriptive than explored.
However, from about the half point on suddenly there was real reasons for their separation. And they felt much more natural than the earlier ‘what if he doesn’t like me’. There is still some of that, but in context it is much less.
I need to remember to look and not start reading a series until it is complete. Book three of the trilogy is not scheduled to be released until May 2014. There are two novellas, one out now, one coming in January, to tide you over. But I have to know does American end up with Maxon or someone else?
I know I am spoiled with excellent young adult fiction like The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park and older fiction like Camilla. I don’t want to judge too harshly (after all I have read a lot of fluff young adult fiction), but this verges between good enough to read and could be much more.
Related Bookwi.se Reviews
- The Selection by Kiera Cass
- The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (Maze Runner #2) (bookwi.se)
- The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Maze Runner #1) (bookwi.se)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows JK Rowling (bookwi.se)
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (bookwi.se)
- The Death Cure by James Dashner (Maze Runner #3) (bookwi.se)