book reviews / dystopia / fairy tale / fantasy

Book Review: The One

Series: The Selection

Kiera Cass

YA

There’s a lot to like about this last installment of Kiera Cass’s The Selection series. To bring you up to speed, America Singer is in a reality-show style contest to wed Prince Maxon. But each of them has other romantic entanglements. And then there are the political rebellions, terrorist attacks, and social unrest.

What’s to like:

  1. The political thriller element is sharper.
  2. The romance is more heart-rending.
  3. The choices grow more complex as characters change and grow, both together and apart.
Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m not speaking here just of our prince and the select few would-be-brides left in the contest. The competitors themselves alternately embrace and fight with each other, which is understandable any time you shut teenage girls in an enclosed space. Let alone introduce a boy they all want to marry. There are some surprises as the author fleshes out each contestant.

There is also a touching bond between America and her father, seen mostly through letters.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And as through the series, I’m just fascinated by this odd blend of fairy tale and dystopia. Each element grows stronger.

Until the end.

SPOILER ALERT

(well, more like a Verge-Of-Spoiling Alert. Like milk on the expiration date, when you pick up the jug and can’t tell if it actually smells funky or if it’s the power of suggestion.)

image provide by digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net

image provide by digitalart at freedigitalphotos.net

Translation: I’m going to discuss the ending in broad terms.

Something is lacking in the ending. We need a little more action on the part of our heroine. She’s been such a strong character throughout, and now she decides to play damsel-in-distress? We need her to take more of a hand in resolving her own problems, and not just physically.

The author has shown us time and time again that America has a problem—she shuts people out, even those she loves. It is a MAJOR obstacle in the relationship development between America and several characters, especially Prince Maxon. The reader knows she needs to resolve it, or in trying to protect herself emotionally she risks her chance at the greatest emotional fulfillment. The men she loves know she needs to resolve it. America knows she needs to resolve it. The author knows she needs to resolve it.

And does she resolve it?

Kind of.

Without giving away who, if anyone, she winds up with, I still feel like America never lays it all on the line. Other characters take the bigger risks, both physically and relationally, or take them first. Which makes no sense, given her character. She’s been strong throughout. Just not here, at the climax, when it’s most important.

The ending is neither off-putting nor illogical. It could just be…more.

If it’s a dystopia, our heroine needs to pay a bigger price for her failures. And if it’s a fairy tale romance, she needs to pay a bigger price for her successes.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Still, my slight dissatisfaction at the ending cannot take away the good points in Cass’s writing. She delivers romance (including some very sweet letters), social commentary, periodic action, and a coming-of-age story. And have I mentioned the blend of genres is delightfully funky, too? Oh, only like 8 times now?

The Selection Series is like a cupcake someone dropped on the ground and slightly trampled. And I mean that as a high compliment, actually. It balances between fairy tale and dystopia.

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars, the series as whole 4 out of 5.

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