Book Review

May God Bless America

The Selection (The Selection, #1)The Selection by Kiera Cass

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s been two years since I’ve read The Selection, so I apologize for my very late review. Even though a lot of time has passed, my fondness for this ex-trilogy is as strong as ever. This is most probably because it was actually one of the series I explored in my undergraduate thesis.

I humbly admit that I am occasionally judged for loving this series, given its feminine covers that should ideally (or stereotypically) repel male bookworms like myself. My brothers, for instance, have shot me bewildered glares when they saw me read this book. Now, although I felt slightly emasculated by their reaction, I was comforted by the realization that the content of The Selection was in fact more appropriate for males, because it teaches them (us) not to undermine the power of femininity (Yes, I am a Feminist).

I know my sentiment sounds too deep or erudite, so let me explain. Haha. In this first installment in the currently five-book series, Kiera Cass introduced us to a dystopian twist of The Bachelor. We met America Singer, a beautiful readhead who was “obliged” to compete with 34 other girls for the hand of Maxon, the handsome Prince of Ilea. One would normally conclude that this scenario depicts females in a negative light, since the Selected were practically Prince Maxon’s personal collection of disposable dolls.

However, let me assure you that America is far from being objectified, or in Feminist terms, Othered. How so? She managed to turn the tables by starting her own Selection in the palace. This time, Prince Maxon and her stubborn ex-boyfriend named Aspen were the competitors. Both dudes were unaware that they were actually caught in a love triangle. America, using time as her weapon, insisted that she had yet to decide whom she truly wanted to be with. Surprisingly, neither Prince Maxon nor Aspen could resist her charm, oblivious to the reality that she was treating them like safety nets.

Furthermore, despite her physical weakness, America’s character is something to behold. Unlike the rest of the Selected, she was not overly concerned about making herself beautiful for the sake of the male gaze. Her makeup was light to the point of insignificance, and she disliked wearing choking dresses and debilitating high heels. With that in mind, America was an advocate of natural beauty, and it totally worked to her advantage as Prince Maxon and Aspen learned to love and respect her for her authenticity.

Finally, America’s political empowerment is nothing but outstanding. In spite of her supposedly inferior status as a Five, America was not eager to use Prince Maxon as a means to climb the social ladder. Moreover, she refused to be bedazzled by the extravagant comforts of the palace; she did not allow the temptation of wealth to blind her to the harsh realities of her society. It is interesting to note that she was actually more politically knowledgeable than Prince Maxon himself, trained as he was to rule the kingdom someday. Without America, he wouldn’t have realized the corruption of the caste system.

With all that said, I hope that I have adequately defended my love for The Selection. It could take dozens of paragraphs just to fully express my feels, but the bottom line is this: by deploying the right theories of literary criticism, this superficially shallow or misogynistic book can be viewed as a tribute to femininity. Thus, I implore you not to judge me when I say that this book is perfect for boys like me who live in a world which is downright sexist.

*The featured image was contributed by Dessa Mae Jacobe (@dessatopia)

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