I purchased the narrated version of the Selection sometime ago during an Audible website sale. It had been out awhile and was quite popular when it was released, so I was curious. Sadly, I found the story to be flat and the characters unrealistic and overidealized. It all felt so pointless and vapid – an excuse to make a triangle between a Mary Sue heroine, milquetoast prince, and hothead childhood friend/love/crush. There’s something about random rebels in the story to create tension but really what we have here is High school – with catty girls competing for the hand in marriage (read: prom date) to the most boring marshmallow male alive.
Story: in a post apocalyptic US, America (so named because she was feisty in the womb) Singer (because her family is artistic) is of a lower caste in society. But when a prince comes of age, a Selection is held and a small number of girls (30 or so) are chosen to be presented and the Prince, who will choose one to wed. America is madly in love with childhood crush Aspen but he’s too noble (he’s of a lower caste) to want to drag her to his level of poverty and starvation (while he works endlessly to save his family!). Cue America being selected to meet Prince Maxon – who is dreamy, nice, intelligent, and fairly perfect. But what about Aspen?!? And those mean girls fighting among each other for his attention! And every once in awhile the palace gets locked down because rebels attack it. The story then goes nowhere.
Honestly, a post apocalyptic high school might have been interesting if any of the characters made sense. America is bland, indecisive, and rather ordinary. We’re not given much reason for Maxon or Aspen’s interest other than that she’s ‘feisty’ and still so in love with Aspen, who cheated on her, that she doesn’t dote on the prince like the others. I guess the story does follow the popularity of rock star romances that seem to be everywhere right now. Just exchange lead singer or lead guitarist for a Prince.
The worldbuilding is fairly nonexistant. Something about the Chinese taking over America, American gaining its independence and creating a kingdom, and then the Selection. As usual for this type of book, our heroine treats the love interest Prince Maxon like crap and he laps it up like a moonsick cow. It’s hard to respect him when clearly he has no self respect for himself.
Admittedly, I was extremely bored throughout the narration. I think at one point I started teaching the cat to do tricks with the new cat treats I had bought while America droned on in the background about the annoyance of ball gowns, how Aspen is so dreamy, and how the Prince might actually be a nice guy (imagine that!). Somewhere in the middle of one of the rebel attacks on the palace I did mange to get her to fetch a sock, yay! But yeah, by then I was clearly no longer invested in the really insipid story.
Anyway, I didn’t enjoy the book. Sometimes, I really feel readers should expect more and better. The narration was fine – I don’t know that the author could have lifted the ennui of the plot in any way better.