All sixteen year-old America Singer wants is to save her earnings as a musician and begin a new life with her secret love, Aspen. Her family, especially her social-ladder-climbing mother would never approve of America marrying a class beneath them, and when Aspen withdraws from the relationship because of the class difference, America despairs. Though she once considered it a nightmare, being chosen for the Selection, a group of girls spirited away to the palace from which the prince will choose a bride, now seems like America’s only escape from her heartache.
She arrives at the palace determined to stay only long enough for her family to receive enough compensation to ease their poverty. But when an unexpected friendship develops between her and Prince Maxon, America begins to rethink her rush to return home. Just as the warm feelings of friendship begin to blossom into something more, America’s past with Aspen returns to haunt her. For a member of the Selection to have a relationship with anyone besides the prince is treason.
Sort of Cinderella meets The Bachelor, The Selection is filled with high drama and sweet romance. Though her affection for Aspen seemed childish and ill-placed (other than the physical attraction, it was difficult to discern what she saw in him… he just didn’t seem remarkable,) the slow unfolding of her friendship and connection with the prince sparkled with desire, inner conflict, jealousy and romance.
America and Aspen cultivate a secret romance, exchanging kisses and promises. No clothes are removed during these interludes, but the scenes are steamy nonetheless. As a member of the Selection, America is instructed to refuse nothing her prince asks of her. She is horrified to learn that this includes if he propositions her. However, Maxon’s sense of honor puts her more at ease.
Rebel groups infiltrate the castle, causing one of America’s maids to relive a traumatic assault. No graphic details, but it’s clear the memories torture the girl.
When America joins the Selection, her body becomes property of the state, and medications such as birth control and sleeping aids become mandatory.