Reality T.V. meets dystopian fairy tale in Kiera Cass’s delightful debut. Charming, captivating, and filled with just the right amount of swoon!
Cass’s immensely readable debut novel is a less drastic Hunger Games, with elaborate fashion and trappings. The fast-paced action will have readers gasping for the upcoming sequel.
A cross between The Hunger Games (minus the bloodsport) and The Bachelor (minus the bloodsport), this trilogy launch employs multiple conventions of the dystopian romance genre—strong-willed heroine, heart-wrenching love triangle, far-future setting divided by class. That said, it’s a lot of fun. In a post WWIII U.S. divided by caste, teenage America Singer and her family are Fives, struggling musicians and artists. In love with a Six, America is headed for a life of servitude and hunger, until she is chosen for the Selection—a contest through which Prince Maxon will pick his princess. The Selection brings America instant notoriety and prestige, but also thrusts her into a ring of jealous, desperate girls all trying to win the prince’s heart. Cass (author of the self-published The Siren) deftly builds the chemistry between America and Maxon, while stoking the embers of America’s first, forbidden love. Headstrong and outspoken, America is an easy heroine to root for, and the scenes where she tries to fit in to her new royal life are charming. A TV drama based on the books is in production. Ages 13–up. Agent: Elana Roth, Red Tree Literary. (May)
“An engrossing tale reminiscent of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy and Ally Condie’s Matched. Fairy-tale lovers will lose themselves in America’s alternate reality and wish that the next glamorous sequel were waiting for them.” — School Library Journal
“Cass’s immensely readable debut novel is a less drastic Hunger Games, with elaborate fashion and trappings. The fast-paced action will have readers gasping for the upcoming sequel.” — Booklist
“A cross between The Hunger Games (minus the bloodsport) and The Bachelor (minus the bloodsport), this trilogy launch is a lot of fun. Cass deftly builds the chemistry between America and Maxon, while stroking the embers of America’s first, forbidden love.” — Publishers Weekly
“Reality T.V. meets dystopian fairy tale in Kiera Cass’s delightful debut. Charming, captivating, and filled with just the right amount of swoon!” — Kiersten White, New York Times bestselling author of Paranormalcy
Gr 8 Up—Reminiscent of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy (Bloomsbury, 2005) and Ally Condie's Matched (Dutton, 2010), Cass's debut novel weaves an engrossing tale of high-stakes competition and the emotional turmoil of being true to oneself. In this first installment of a dystopian trilogy, fiery-haired beauty America Singer, 17, meets all the criteria to enter the lottery of a lifetime, a reality-TV-type competition for Prince Maxon's hand in marriage. Her mother believes that she has what it takes to prevail, but America wants nothing to do with the prince. She has secretly been seeing Aspen, whose family members have been servants and friends to the Singers for years. Grappling with her family's socioeconomic status and the impact of the caste system's prejudice on her star-crossed love, America finally concedes to enter the lottery and earns a spot among the lucky 35 contenders, every girl's desire-except for America herself. The sincere prose conveys her minimalist character and reluctance to compete for the affections of a stranger. Fairy-tale lovers will lose themselves in America's alternate reality and wish that the next glamorous sequel were waiting for them.—Jamie-Lee Schombs, Library Journal HC
It's a bad sign when you can figure out the elevator pitch for a novel from the get-go. In this case, if it wasn't "The Bachelor meets The Hunger Games," it was pretty darn close. In a rigid, caste-based dystopian future, Illéa's Prince Maxon has come of age and needs to marry. One girl will be chosen by lottery from each province to travel to the Capital and live in the palace so the prince can make his choice. The winning girl will become queen, and her family will all be elevated to Ones. America, a Five, doesn't want to join the Selection because she is in love with Aspen, a Six. But pressure from both her family and Aspen causes her to relent, and the rest is entirely predictable. She's chosen, she goes to the palace, she draws the ire of the other girls with her beauty and the interest of the prince with her spunky independence. Prince Maxon is much nicer than she expected, but she will remain loyal to Aspen. Maybe. Shabby worldbuilding complements the formulaic plot. Scant explanation is made for the ructions that have created the current political reality, and the palace is laughably vulnerable to rebels from both the North and the South, neither of whom are given any credible motives. But there's lots of descriptions of dresses. A probably harmless, entirely forgettable series opener. (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)