The pool of potential brides for Prince Maxon has been narrowed from its initial thirty-five to the final six. America Singer, one of the remaining six is under more pressure than ever to choose the man she will spend her life with: the kind-hearted future ruler, Prince Maxon or her first love, the charming castle guard Aspen.
As America vies for more time and desperately scrambles to sort her feelings for the two boys, the country faces a graver threat. Rebels continue to attack the castle, bringing death and destruction to any who oppose them. A chance encounter with rebels leaves America wondering whether they are all really evil and whether the caste system is really fair. If she were to choose Maxon, she might have an opportunity to make a real difference in her homeland, but to do so means she’d have to give up Aspen forever.
I’m not much for reality TV shows like The Bachelor, but something about this story definitely makes me want to find out whom Maxon and America choose. Because while Maxon is definitely running The Selection and narrowing down his options for a potential bride, America is definitely running her own smaller version of the game as she tries to choose between Maxon and Aspen.
Sometimes America drove me nuts. She’d fall into Aspen’s arms and realize she loves him and could never give him up, etc, smooch, smooch, and then launch into fits of jealousy at Maxon for taking the other Selection girls on dates.
While America does have a couple of lucid moments where she recognizes she isn’t being fair, she continually holds Maxon to a very different standard than the one to which she holds herself. She expects total honesty from him, but never considers telling him about her relationship with Aspen. She even allows Aspen to risk everything by continuing to see her in secret. It was hard for me to get over the deep selfishness motivating some of her choices. I’m hoping that there’s a huge reckoning coming for her in the next book where she has to own up for her behavior. Which might sound silly – I’m already planning to read the next book, but I had some real issues with this one. I can’t help it. I guess really I’m rooting for Maxon and hoping that he gets to give America a pretty sizable set-down. He’s good for it.
Beyond that, a lot of the story is written in passive voice. “I was walking down the hall,” rather than “I walked down the hall,” etc. It really keeps the reader at a distance, almost like we’re watching the story unfold through a field of mist or listening to America describe a fading dream she once had. I wanted to be right there, in the middle of the action. Not sitting back reading about it.
What I liked about the series is that it maintains a high level of romantic tension without really bringing it down into a lot of lusty sexual tension. There is some kissing, but I’d call the series pretty clean, and there aren’t a lot of teen romance novels that can make such a claim. So from that standpoint, it’s a great one to read and recommend.
I also liked that Cass brought in a little bit about the political situation in the kingdom. There’s a bit more about the whole rebel situation, definitely enough to keep us guessing and kind of raising the bar for the future queen – she’s going to walk into a big scary situation. I feel like America has the chops to face whatever the kingdom throws at her, so I’m anxious to see if she decides to agree.
Mild profanity used infrequently.
America and Aspen cultivate a secret romance, exchanging kisses and promises. No clothes are removed during these interludes, but the scenes are steamy nonetheless. America and Maxon share kisses and one another’s arms as well. At one point America leads Maxon to her bed, thinking that’s what he wishes. It’s unclear whether she means as a place to sit or that she’s offering to have sex with him. They do not have sex. America catches Maxon kissing and making out with the other girls. Since she’s made no promise to be his bride, he is keeping his options open.
Rebels infiltrate the castle, some killing or wounding guards and destroying property.
America is offered wine at a state event. She drinks and worries about how it affects her ability to make decisions after that.