The best summary of the third book is this paraphrase of a conversation that felt like it happened about five times in the book. “How can I say ‘I love you’ if you have all of these other girls.” “Well how can I dismiss all of these other girls if you won’t tell me that you love me.”
The Selection trilogy is a cross between the Hunger Games and the Bachelor. In a dystopian future, the Prince must choose a wife from among a selection of citizens. The first book in the trilogy was pretty dismissible. The story was fairly flat while entirely too much ‘I am not good enough’ internal dialogue.
But because the second book was at my library on audiobook, I went ahead and read the second, the Elite. The characters were much better fleshed out and the world suddenly was more than a dystopian movie set.
The One, the final book of the trilogy, is mixed. There is way too much fighting about who will say ‘I love you’ first. I get there has to be tension in a book, but all of the real tension in this third book is between Prince Maxon and America. What helped the second book from being as lifeless as the first was moving some of the tension from outside the couple to the political and social situation and the King’s hatred of America.
While the political and social situation are still here, and the King still does not want Maxon to choose America, there is never a serious question about what will happen. So the King, for all of his bullying, is no longer that scary. The reader knows, certainly more than the characters do, that somehow America and Maxon will get together and somehow Maxom will become king and rule the country better than his father and eventually he will break down the caste system. And America will continue to say things that will get her in trouble but reveal her character is good inside.
I know this is a young adult book, but writers like John Green, JK Rowling and Suzanne Collines have shown that you can have real young adult books that also are well written, with appropriate tension and a bit of romance, without making the characters dumb.
The fact that I tend to like young adult books kept me listening. But if my daughter were old enough to be reading it with me, this is a book that I would hold up as an example of how not to deal with boys and life. America is a decent character, there is real potential here. But it did not carry through.
Beautiful dresses on the cover are not enough to carry a trilogy.
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