IT’S TIME TO SELECT
Anyway, America and her baeuo retire to a treehouse to do kisses. Teens sneaking off to treehouses to make out– what a fantastical future society this is!
I think that’s one of the major things that bugs me so far about this book– it’s set in this weird mildly fantasy-esque society that seems, on the surface, as though it should be completely indistinguishable from contemporary America, but in fact it’s basically exactly the same as contemporary America.
America the country, not America the character.
Fuck me, I hate that name even more now.
“Please don’t call me gorgeous. First my mom, then May, now you. It’s getting on my nerves.” By the way Aspen was looking at me, I could tell I wasn’t helping my “I’m not pretty” case.
Stop insisting you’re not pretty, you’re the heroine in a romance novel of course you’re pretty.
To my surprise, the bits with America and her boyfriend Aspen (no seriously) interacting and talking are actually done quite well. Aspen isn’t an asshole, they have obvious chemistry, and it really helps that they’re already in a relationship instead of just encountering each other for the first time.
I mean, I’m guessing that’s what totally happens between America and Prince Whatever once she gets to the palace, but it’s nice for now.
His black T-shirt was worn to threads in several places, just like the shabby pair of jeans he wore almost every day.
In this zany future kingdom, teenagers wear scruffy black t-shirts and jeans! What an unusual setting!
If only I could sit and patch them up for him. That was my great ambition. Not to be Illéa’s princess. To be Aspen’s.
You know, this almost works. Almost. If they hadn’t come packaged with the protagonist wishing she could do household chores for her love interest, those last two sentences would be pretty sweet.
Aspen was a Six. Sixes were servants and only a step up from Sevens in that they were better educated and trained for indoor work.
Why is there such a huge demand for servants that there’s an entire social caste made up of them? How did that happen? Are we going to get an explanation for that?
“How do you feel about it? The Selection, I mean?” I asked.
“Okay, I guess. He’s got to find a girl somehow, poor guy.”
Why can’t he find a fiance via political marriage, like actual monarchs did? If that’s not an option (are other countries also monarchies now?), then why doesn’t he attend fancy social events where he has a chance to mingle with noble girls?
And what if the prince happens to be gay? What if the girl who wins the Selection is gay, and she just entered for the money and social status? Hell, what if she just entered for the money and social status anyway and hates the prince’s guts? Wouldn’t that be virtually guaranteed to happen? At least with a political marriage the girl will have been raised expecting to be married off to someone, so it’s more probable that she’ll at least tolerate the arrangement.
I found my little bundle and brought it to Aspen, who, to his merit, nibbled it all slowly. I took one bite of the apple so he would feel like it was for us, but then I set it down and let him have the rest.
Look, see? That’s pretty good romance! Why isn’t this just a straight forward love story without the nonsensical world building?
The twins were both sad because their mom had made them drop their after-school drama club so they could work more.
You can really feel how down-trodden the Eights are, having to give up their after-school drama clubs.
Why the fuck do they have an after-school drama club when they’re on the brink of destitution? Why are they even going to school? We’re getting right back into high school city territory again, where the author is completely unable to step outside of the social norms and operations of their personal experience, so the setting just feels like American suburbia with a few paper-thin sci-fi tropes tacked on.
“Aspen Leger, don’t you dare!
“Aspen Leger” sounds like a Gundam protagonist.
“When we have kids. And we’ll just be careful about it. Who says we have to have more than two?”
“You know that’s not something we can control!” I could hear the anger building in his voice.
Apparently anyone under level Three isn’t allowed to use contraception, because……. I have no idea, the book doesn’t explain it. It can’t be religious, because then it would apply to everyone.
You know what contributes hugely to poverty, over-population and general societal ills? Insufficient access to contraception. Particularly when poor people don’t have access to it, and particularly particularly when it’s due to a completely arbitrary rule (hello Catholicism) rather than a genuine difficulty in attaining it. The royal family (or whoever is in charge of Ilea) is shooting the entire country in the foot with this nonsense.
Anyway, Aspen convinces America to enter the Selection so she’ll have a chance at a better life; he does this by way of mildly skeevy emotional manipulation.
Aspen had been through a lot, but I had seen him cry only once, when they whipped his brother in the square. Little Jemmy had stolen some fruit off a cart in the market. An adult would have had a brief trial and then, depending on the value of what was stolen, either been thrown in jail or sentenced to death.
What the flying fuck is with this setting? Is it Everytown USA suburbia only everyone is poor and there’s a king for some reason, or is it the Hunger Games? Who is “they”? The police? The town authorities? What’s the actual government like? Is there a government? WHAT IS GOING ON NOTHING MAKES SENSE HELP
We were cautious, always stopping shy of the things we really wanted. As if breaking curfew wasn’t bad enough.
What, are they not allowed to have sex before marriage? For fuck’s sake, why? Is this a fundamentalist society or something?
I felt special, priceless, irreplaceable. No queen on any throne could possibly feel more important than I did.
This romance is turning YA-tastic really quickly. America’s entire existence and sense of self-worth seems to revolve around Aspen to a degree that feels unhealthy, and there’s this really troubling dynamic where he takes everyone’s burdens to heart so she deliberately tries not to cause a fuss or worry about anything for his sake. I really hope the book realizes that that’s not a good thing in a relationship.
This chapter begins with America getting pestered some more by her STUPID FAT BITCH MOTHER (unlike her father who is angelic and saintly) about entering the Selection.
“What do you want?” I said.
“For you to submit your name for the Selection. I think you’d make an excellent princess.”
It was way too early for this.
Just enter the fucking Selection, we all know you’re going to.
“America, if you loved an Eight, I’d want you to marry him. But you should know that love can wear away under the stress of being married. Someone you think you love now, you might start to hate when he couldn’t provide for you. And if you couldn’t take care of your children, it’d be even worse. Love doesn’t always survive under those types of circumstances.”
…So get ready to marry your designated love interest, who’s fabulously wealthy and therefore better in every way!
We kept rotating through options with Gerad, but none of them were sticking. One look at the battered soccer ball in the corner or the secondhand microscope we’d inherited as payment one Christmas, and it was obvious his heart just wasn’t in the arts.
This is why splitting people into castes based on jobs– or at least, jobs that take years of practice and dedication to get any good at– is a terrible idea.
“I know.” It really seemed unreasonable to limit everyone’s life choices based on your ancestors’ ability to help the government, but that was how it all worked out.
Is that where the Caste system came from? That makes no sense.
“Hello, Lena. Kamber, Celia, how are you?” Mother greeted them.
“Good!” they sang in unison.
“You guys look beautiful,” I said, placing one of Celia’s curls behind her shoulder.
“We wanted to look pretty for our picture,” Kamber announced.
Why does everyone younger than America act like they’re about ten?
There’s some thing where it turns out the Selection lottery isn’t random like everyone assumed, or whatever, bored.
“I don’t know why some girls go so over the top. Look at America. She’s so pretty. I’m so glad you didn’t go that route,” Mrs. Leger said.
SHE’S SO NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL UNLIKE THOSE SLUTS WHO PUT ON TOO MUCH MAKEUP AM I RIGHT
And of course America does the whole “oh no I’m just so terribly average” routine again. That’s going to be a running thing with her, isn’t it?
Not a whole lot actually happens in this chapter, as it’s almost entirely made up of Aspen’s mom and sisters stroking America’s ego and then speculating about the mysterious girl that Aspen is going out with, unaware that she is in fact standing right before them. I don’t get why Aspen and America are keeping their relationship a secret; supposedly here’s a big taboo about marrying people who are lower caste, but just last chapter America’s dad said he’d be fine with her marrying an Eight, and Aspen’s family would obviously be thrilled if he married up a level.
Next time: maybe the Selection will finally happen.