Let’s Read The Selection ch. 7 + 8

the_selection_cover

 

Chapter 7

THE NEXT MORNING, I DRESSED myself in the uniform of the Selected: black pants, white shirt, and my province flower—a lily—in my hair.

“Black pants and white shirt” seems a little mundane, but whatever.

America has to go to a big public event (at “the square”) for her send-off to the palace, and she complains and moans about it for pages and pages. I don’t have a problem with her not being super thrilled about all of this, but it would be so much more engaging if she was reluctant, but chose to enter the Selection of her own volition because she wanted to win–or at least stay in the game as long as possible–for the sake of her family.

The day began uncomfortably. Kenna came with James to send me off, which was kind of her, considering she was pregnant and tired. Kota came by, too, though his presence added more tension than ease.

I can’t remember who any of these people are.

The upper castes looked at me like I’d stolen something that was theirs. The Fours on down were cheering for me—an average girl who’d been elevated. I became aware of what I meant to everyone here, as if I represented something for all of them.

Why is all of this so fucking dry? These book is just spinning its wheels through these scenes until it gets to the more interesting stuff, and it shows.

It took a few passes of the crowd before I found him. I immediately wished I hadn’t. Aspen was standing there with Brenna Butler in front of him, casually holding her around the waist and smiling.

A bit later, America looks at Aspen again and he seems pained. I bet he’s doing some stupid noble thing where he’s trying to pushher away because h e  c a n ‘ t  s t a n d  s e e i n g  h e r  g e t  h u r t or something.

The mayor (who goes completely undescribed, which makes me picture him looking like the mayor of Townsville from the Powerpuff Girls) asks if America wants to say a few words and she brushes him off by claiming she’s too overwhelmed.

He cupped my hands in his. “Of course, dear girl. Don’t you worry, I’ll take care of everything. They’ll train you for this kind of thing at the palace. You’ll need it.”

This is such a waste of a scene. It would be way more interesting if he just stuck a microphone in America’s face and she had to improvise something on the spot; a scene like that could be simultaneously funny and tense, and it would give America a chance to show off her stuff. You could even turn it into a good romantic beat later on by having Maxon comment on something she said, thus indicating that he was paying attention to her and found her noteworthy.

There’s a goodbye scene with America’s family that’s just as dull and lifeless as everything else in the book so I’ll skip over it, apart from this bit with her dad:

If I came back used and unwanted, he’d still be proud of me.

*Purity culture siren intensifies*

Chapter 8

It’s time for America’s first trip on a plane, and for some reason she’s terrified to the point of fearing a panic attack. I don’t get why. Is she afraid of heights? Is she prone to anxiety around unfamiliar environments? She handled all the interviews and the public appearance without batting an eyelid, so what’s up with this?

They were both smiling, confirming my thought that I was the only one of the Selected who might be depressed today.

America concludes this based on a single glance at two other girls. Okay, America.

They were both from the North;

Why is “North” capitalized? This book just keep throwing up weird, baffling little details like this.

America’s two plane-mates, Marlee and Ashley, appear initially friendly to the point where their interactions with her are stupefyingly uninteresting (just like most of this book), but the tropes of YA romance dictate that at least one of them will turn out to be some sort of back-stabbing asshole.

Marlee and I got along easily,

SHOW DON’T TELL

I ‘ve said before that I think that edict gets overused at times, but this is a classic example of the sort of thing it’s intended to stop. We should read Marlee and America’s conversaton for ourselves and be able to tell they’re getting along easily without being spoon-fed the information.

There, walking toward us, was a brunette with sunglasses on. She had a daisy in her hair, but it had been dyed red to match her lipstick. Her hips swayed as she walked, and each fall of her three-inch heels accentuated her confident stride. Unlike Marlee and Ashley, she didn’t smile.

No wait I was wrong, here’s the asshole now.

(By the way, I have almost no idea where any of this is actually taking place. I think they’re meant to be in some sort of airport lobby, but I really can’t tell)

This person, who I recognized as Celeste Newsome of Clermont, Two, didn’t bother me. She assumed we were fighting for the same thing. But you can’t be pushed if it’s something you don’t want.

Imagine the sound of a balloon deflating as the last vestiges of tension drain from the book.

I know this whole business with America not giving a shit about the Selection (until suddenly she does, like earlier when she decides she’s going to do her best for the sake of the lower castes) is meant to make her inevitable victory seem even more stunning and accentuate the fact that she’s secretly the fairest of them all despite her constant insistence otherwise, but it also means there’s absolutely no stakes to the story. America isn’t fighting for anything and doesn’t want anything except for her life to go back to the way it was before the book started, and as we’ve covered elsewhere here on this very blog, a main character who keeps wishing the story would end is no fun at all.

Anyway, Celeste is totally way intimidating for some reason, except America isn’t phased by her at all so you can tell she’s a total fucking badass.

“I hear all four of our Selected girls are here?”
“We sure are,” Celeste replied sweetly. The man sort of melted a little, you could see it in his eyes. Ah. So this was her game.

What, act charming and seductive? Isn’t that sort of the default mode for a contest like this?

The flight, which was really only terrifying during the takeoff and landing, lasted a few short hours. We were offered movies and food, but all I wanted to do was look out the window. I watched the country from above, amazed at just how big it all was.

WHY IS THE WRITING SO BORING

This is America’s first time on a plane! She’s (supposedly) not used to having good food, or having entertainment on demand! All of this should be amazing to her, but instead, thanks to how lifeless the writing is, there’s absolutely no feeling of wonderment or even novelty at all.

“I don’t want to talk badly about anyone, but she’s so aggressive.

Celeste has uttered maybe three sentences since her introduction. What’s all of this based on?

After the plane trip, the girls are led through an airport lobby where there’s tons of jubilant crowds waiting to cheer them on.

Luckily, Celeste was in front, and she started waving. I knew immediately that that was the right response, not the cowering I had been considering. And since the cameras were there to catch our every move, I was doubly glad I hadn’t been leading the pack.

If America doesn’t care about winning, then why would that bother her?

This book continues to go downhill. The opening chapters were baffling and ridiculous, which was at least entertaining; but these last few chapters are utterly joyless. Maybe once we get to the palace, things will get interesting again.

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Selection ch. 7 + 8

  1. Andrea Harris

    That bit about the “if I came back used” made me wonder if part of the Selection trials (or whatever they are) is having sex with the prince, and he just keeps the one who was the best in bed. Well, that would make it a true dystopia and give the proceedings some edge, so I doubt it.

    Reply
  2. reveen

    Uh, okay, about dystopias.

    Most dystopias in fiction are written as logical end point exaggerations of societies and trends the author feels are bad or dangerous. For George Orwell and 1984 it’s Stalinism and totalitarianism. For Aldous Huxley it’s soulless consumer culture. With V For Vendetta it’s an extension of Thatcher’s UK. Even Hunger Games sorta does it with the big city Capitol vs the disaffected and impoverished appalachians in District 12.

    What the hell is the basis for this dystopia? Beauty pageants and reality TV? That would be fair enough, but the larger society this story is set in comes no where close to being that. It’s like the writer just thought for five seconds what would be a horrible form of society, decided on “not being able to do what you want with your life” and settled on that.

    Reply
  3. Elisabeth

    “If I came back used and unwanted, he’d still be proud of me.”

    Oh fuck you. Fuck your sexist patriarchal purity bullshit. A woman isn’t a thing to be “used”.

    I’m both angry at the author and sorry for her that she apparently buys into the idea that her worth is determined by the condition of her hymen before marriage.

    Reply
  4. Signatus

    “an average girl who’d been elevated.”

    Why would the upper castes look down on her? It’s not like there is strict no mobility between castes. We’ve already seen ways for people born in other castes to move up or down. Also, the castes are not religious or based on any sort of worth at all. They’re based on jobs which, I would presume, are more or less modernized, so I’m guessing an engineer can look down on a farmer all he wants, he still builds stuff for the farmer and feeds from the farmer. So you’re telling me professionals like TEACHERS which I think were second cast look down on musicians? For what reason? There are no music teachers amongst the caste? Come on.

    You know? I’ve said it before. Scratch the whole pseudo dystopia bullshit you’ve got going on, transform this into a typical medieval fairy tale. Not only does it make WAY more sense, it works fucking BETTER (which is not saying much, but right now it’s laughable).

    “Brenna Butler”

    Let me guess what her dad’s job is.

    “casually holding her around the waist and smiling.”

    Never seen this done. EVER. AT ALL.

    In the name of all sacred, what do you people do? Do you buy a manual of “how to write a novel for dummies” and copy paste every single cliche? Or are you just uncapable of reading anything outside of these trashy novels and that’s where you get your inspiration from? I’ve seen ants being less predictable, and they are supposed to have a HIVE MIND.

    “If I came back used and unwanted, he’d still be proud of me.”

    Oh, come on!

    You know? I’m not even going to try for a smart comment or anything. Fuck you, Kiera Cass. I’m not a thing to be USED. I’m not less worthy because I’m not first hand (actually my boyfriend would agree with me, an experienced woman who knows her deal in bed is more fun to bed than some frightened waifu that blushes at the vision of a penis). Just… GHAGH, I can’t believe you were born with a vagina.

    “It’s time for America’s first trip on a plane,”

    What caste are these people? And the flights attendants? And the engineers?

    “I was the only one of the Selected who might be depressed today.”

    You’re so special it hurts just looking at you. The rest of the other plus 30 candidates are thrilled at the idea of leaving their families and their whole lives behind FOREVER.

    “when she decides she’s going to do her best for the sake of the lower castes”

    You know? If this had been consistently kept throughout the whole prologue it would have been an interesting motivation to move the story. If this had meant having to keep her grounds against not too keen parents and a jealous asshole of a boyfriend, the character would have been strong and way MORE interesting. If throughout the selection and through her reign she had started to fall in love with the king, who is actually a pretty nice fella, that would have been a story I might have, maybe not liked, but wouldn’t have disliked so deeply.

    Instead we get a bland jelly of a person trying to imitate some sort of rebel, failing even at something like that, who doesn’t really know what she wants and who changes her ideas as quickly as one changes clothes. It seems like not even Kiera knew what the fuck she was doing with her character and changed her idea many ways through, editing the book into a complete mess.

    “a main character who keeps wishing the story would end is no fun at all.”

    Which makes me wonder why they keep writing these characters. WORSE, why they keep making them MAIN CHARS!

    This book is terrible in all possible ways.

    Reply
  5. autobaanarjuna

    What really gets me here is how very not dystopic this feels. It’s like a Disney Channel movie about a girl going to summer camp with an occasional “Psst, I know it doesn’t feel like it but this setting is dystopic. Keep that in mind.”

    Reply

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