Book Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

Book Review: The Selection Series by Kiera Cass

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

YA, dystopian

This is actually a review for the first three books in the The Selection series. America, a nothing 5 in the caste system of Illya, puts her name in for the selection, a competition to marry the next Prince of Illya. She gets.. ahem… selected to join and leaves her secret boyfriend and family behind. This is a chance to earn some money for her poor family and to, potentially, move up in her world. She will have an elevated caste for even participating.

The idea of a Hunger Games type competition to marry a Prince had me cringing a bit. But this title moved along and I was interested to see where it went. I am glad I continued because books 2 and 3 were more about America’s personal growth and understanding of her complex and unfair world. She learned about the history of the country through banned books and played a major role in educating the equally in-the-dark future King to the inequities outside the plush palace. Books 2 and 3 were highly redeeming. Book 4 is about their daughter and seems to be more romance than I care for.

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Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Book Review: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

The Heart Goes LastThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher: Bloomsbury

dystopia, science fiction

This was a very strange and interesting book. I don’t know that I have ever encountered so much fetish sex and slapstick comedy in one book.

Stan and Charmaine are living in a car, trying to survive a crashed economy. They are trying to maintain their pride and dignity. Neither of them is doing anything criminal… not yet, anyway. And then Positron, a corporate prison provides the solution to all of their problems. Employment, food, a respectable life… for 6 months out of the year. Every other month they rotate between being prisoners and “civilians” living in a house as a couple, though they aren’t ever allowed to leave Positron or communicate with the outside world.

With this false sense of security, they each begin straying from each other in mind and action. They both get entwined in a mostly sick, sometimes comedic plot to get out of Positron and out of what is increasingly revealed to be a really bad decision. Sex bots? Woman-on-blue knitted teddy bear action? Oh yes, this book has it all!

Atwood’s writing here has a very distinct style. So much so that I asked my English teacher sister-in-law about it. Turns out she was (QUITE HEAVILY) employing a style called free indirect discourse where the narrators words convey the inflection or feelings of the character about which they speak. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it distracting, but it was definitely noticeable and I was wondering if her other work that I have a read in the past was similar.

Not a feel good book in the slightest (but then again, it is Atwood), it did make me think a lot about the thin line that separates us from animal. A major theme is mirage. How much people are willing to sacrifice for a skin deep sense of security. Stan and Charmaine were living in a car but they were working together to stay alive. Once they get into Positron and have the house with the white picket fence, they are at each other’s throats and screwing around on each other. The ending is another example of this though I won’t talk about that here.

I won’t be reading this one again, but it certainly kept me asking, what the hell is going on with this book?! I laughed. I felt sick to my stomach. It was certainly a roller coaster.

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Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher: HarperCollins

dystopia, young adult, fantasy

X-Men meets Hunger Games is the best way to describe this book, I think. This is a debut novel, first in a YA series by Victoria Aveyard. Our protagonist, Mare, is a Red, a second-class citizen with red blood and no special powers. The ruling class is made up of Silvers whose blood runs silver and who are able to manipulate water, fire, metal, control other’s minds, and become invisible.

There is a generational war being waged by the Silvers, being fought mostly by Reds. Mare’s brothers have all gone to the war and she lives with her sister and parents in The Stilts, a poor Red village. While her sister has honest work as a seamstress, Mare spends her days pick-pocketing in the streets… until she is thrust into the world of the Silvers and discovers that, even though her blood runs red, she has somehow developed her own powers.

She must navigate through this new society parading as one of their own while she figures out the source of this power and what it means. Her Red allegiance gets her involved in a rebel group that she tries to assist through her new position. Tables are turned… a number of times… and she might have gotten in over her head. How can she save her friends and family back in The Stilts? How did she come to have these powers and are there others like her? Can she secretly take down the Silver regime from the inside?

I found this book enjoyable though not overly engaging. Honestly, I don’t see myself reading past the first book in this series. The writing is pretty predictable. This is very much your standard YA dystopia about a girl who ruffles feathers and meanwhile there is a romantic triangle. There is some interesting commentary about terrorism vs rebellion that I appreciated, though.

All that said, I am glad I got to know it so that I could recommend it to others who are looking for what to read post Hunger Games and Divergent.

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