America Singer is a sixteen year old girl living in the Post-WWIV Kingdom of Illea (formerly the United States). Citizens of Illea are divided into castes. Ones and Twos live lives of wealth and privilege. Eights are homeless outcasts. American is a Five – certainly not the lowest of the low, but life is hard. Life is even harder for Aspen, a Six and the boy she loves. It isn’t easy for people to marry outside their castes, but America and Aspen are determined. But when a letter arrives from the palace inviting all young women of Illea to apply for The Selection – think The Bachelor – everything changes. Girls from every caste are given the opportunity to be selected as a candidate to marry Prince Maxon and become the future queen of Illea. This is the farthest thing from America’s mind, but both her mother and Aspen see it as America’s chance to have a better life. Since she feels the chances of her making the selection are slim, she agrees to apply in order to appease them. Of course she makes it.
Soon America is living in the palace with thirty-five other contestants vying for the prince’s affections. Of course America’s heart belongs to Aspen. But sadly, before the selection, he ended it – claiming he could not ask her to live life as a six. So, she spends her days there trying to forget him, becoming Prince Maxon’s confidante, and earning compensation and comforts for her family.
Despite her broken heart, life at the palace has it’s perks (and dangers). But when America’s feelings for Maxon intensify – just about the time Aspen is assigned to the palace guard – things get complicated. If you’re thinking this all sounds pretty predictable, you’re mostly right. There aren’t a lot of twists and turns in this book that I didn’t see coming, but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t put it down. But too bad for me, the story doesn’t end – until the sequel or maybe the sequel after that. Dang.
The castle undergoes a couple of attacks, but there’s nothing graphic or even terribly tense.
Maybe a four letter word or two, but I don’t recall any.
In Illea sex before marriage is punishable by death. So, America and Aspen have restrained themselves, but it’s clear that they are passionately in love and that keeping things pure is a struggle. Also, when American joins the selection she is told to not to deny the prince anything -ANYTHING. Fortunately Maxon is a total gentleman.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
– In countries where a caste system actually exists, why do you think people tolerate it?
– Do you think arranged marriages could realistically work?
-Is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?
– Do you think this book is predictable? Which parts?
-Do you like the characters? Are they two simple or one-demensional?