So I went into this thinking it would be like The Bachelor. I don’t like The Bachelor really at all so I wasn’t expecting much. I guess I got more than I expected because I liked it enough to read the whole series.
First of all, I identified with America in the beginning; Not the beautiful red-headed thing or super-poor girl with little-to-no food. I identified with her falling in love young and wanting to get married. I understood her reluctance to apply for the Selection. And I completely got her being completely up-front and honest-to-the-point-of-painful. I got it. I understood her and liked her well enough. I also understood Aspen and Maxon. They made perfect sense to me and I can absolutely see people reacting in the same ways.
My major problems lay in just about everything else. I understand dystopian fiction and ideas of alternate governments and possible future changes but this alternate future was just… stupid. I can, in no possible way, see any scenario in which people who used to be citizens of the United States of America would adopt a monarchy or a strict caste system. Especially not both together. And there are hints that modern technology still exists but it’s as if no one gets to use it. Even poor people now use modern technology. Shoot, I’ve seen homeless guys with cell phones. The idea that it just fizzles out is dumb. There would have been major cellphone recycling and black-marketing going on, if you ask me. Same goes for whatever else these people used to have but live without in this stupid alternate future.
And why does every caste have their professions chosen for them? I’m pretty sure that’s not how castes work currently in countries that practice caste systems. That just doesn’t make sense. Even the Chinese (who do not have a caste system but have an extremely invasive government) realize you can’t force everyone to be something they’re not; They screen children from toddler-hood to see what they’re good at and then train them up to be amazing at whatever it is they do. If a person is good at soccer but can’t play it because he’s in the art-producing caste then who is playing soccer? Even with training some people just aren’t that great at sports. I bet watching their professional sports teams is equivalent to watching high school sports. Which is a bad thing. Why would a large group of people ever buy into following a social system such as this? I don’t get it. And who would think that a set-up like this would be good for anyone? I realize that there are leaders who have thought that social systems such as this are a good idea but past experience definitely suggests otherwise. In this future world why does the current leader not know of these failed past experiences? You would think that with all the turmoil in his country that he’d understand something wasn’t working.
This series ended how I thought it would but not exactly in the way that I expected. Which was both good and bad. Mostly because I didn’t want it to end that way.
A couple of things really got annoying. While America wasn’t quite so wishy-washy at the end, she still cried all. The. Time. About everything. Happy, sad, frustrated, angry, humiliated, touched, excited; There is no emotion for which this girl does not shed tears. I can’t tell you how much that irritates me. It’s so a) immature and b) ridiculous and c) just plain annoying. I don’t know how people cry that much. Seriously. Maybe the author thought it made the story more dramatic. Which it did. But it wasn’t a good thing.
The final climactic scene felt like a cop-out. All of the problems solved in one fell swoop. Too convenient for me.
Ok, and during this entire series America and everyone else refers to dating the prince to see if they fall in love as the competition. “Are you still competing?” “Are you still trying to win?” I basically think it’s a recipe for future infidelity. These girls don’t feel comfortable or secure enough to be completely themselves or let Maxon in completely and they always feel like they’re being compared to the other girls that they know Maxon has some kind of feelings for. And, on Maxon’s end, his only romantic experience has been dating multiple girls at once. How does anyone expect him to get used to just one girl when he finally chooses who he’ll marry. And does the idea that Maxon can choose any one of them and they’ll accept no matter what make anyone else angry? If I was in this competition I’d try to make it to the top just so I could refuse a marriage proposal out of spite. No matter how I felt about the prince. Duty before feelings, right, Elise? And I know Cass touched on this issue a bit but it wasn’t enough to quell my anger.
And, as the story progresses, America is way too open with her feelings. She talks to everyone about how she feels. And explains her feelings in great detail. Just… blah. No one talks like that. Especially not to near-perfect strangers. Why does she do that? And the author also touched on this a bit but never fixed it; America never does anything to prove how she feels toward Maxon. He’s always making gestures big and small but she never does anything for him except kiss him once in a while. She was just so temperamental and irritating. And selfish and immature.
The way these characters talked bothered me; Everyone sounded outdated. Not futuristic, not even modern. It sounded like everyone spoke like they were in a Jane Austen novel. If this is supposed to be the future, I’m betting language would have evolved somehow or at least stayed as lazy as Americans are now. It was too formal, too stiff. Not very believable.
Maxon. I don’t think he would have turned out the way he was presented in this book. With all the pampering and training and polishing and manipulation and abuse I think he would have been a bit different. Even if he did turn out to be a nice, decent guy he would have at least been more skeptical or something. I don’t know. I liked him and in a different setting I would have found him believable. But not here. Although I loved (and hated) his reaction to America’s attempted seduction. Highly entertaining.
So, all in all, the series has been an entertaining fluff read. I read all of it and just could not put it down but I scoffed and rolled my eyes a lot. A lot of people really love these books. I wouldn’t read it again and can’t decide if I’d want to read anything else by this author.
Sexual Content: Moderate (make-out scenes, a very vague idea that characters had sex)
Violence: Moderate (some fight scenes, a few deaths, nothing too gory)