Let’s Read The Selection ch. 10

the_selection_cover

Chapter 10

I KEPT MY HEAD DOWN at dinner. In the Women’s Room I could be brave because Marlee was beside me, and she just thought I was nice. But here, sandwiched between people whose hate I could feel radiating off in waves, I was a coward.

I know I’ve harped on about the lack of stakes over and over again, but it bares repeating: this scene would make way more sense if all the girls hadn’t been elevated to Threes as soon as they were selected. If they knew that they had to go back to their old lives if they lost–if it was a case of coming first or losing everything–then their animosity would be far more understandable.

Picture it this way: let’s say you got twelve people who were struggling with financial issues, and had them all compete for a grand prize of $10 million. There’s no prize for coming in second place– it’s all or nothing. You can easily imagine the kind of heightened emotion that would cause. It’s the kind of scenario people would be willing to kill over.

Now picture the same thing, except that all of the contestants got $250,000 just for taking part. It doesn’t quite have the same emotional heft, does it? Sure, people would still want to take the grand prize, and you’d get a few really vicious contestants who’d do anything to win, but I imagine most people would be relatively chill about the whole thing compared to the first scenario, given that they’re already receiving a life-altering sum of money.

This is basically the scenario in The Selection. All of the contestants have gone from a future of hard labour and/or dire financial uncertainly (supposedly) to a steady-income job in an office. No, they’re not suddenly rich, and their families are still stuck lower in the hierarchy, but they’re already orders of magnitude better off than they would have ever dreamed could be possible.

I didn’t understand why it was all so important. So the people seemed to like me, so what? They were outranked in here; their little signs and cheers didn’t matter.
After everything was said and done, I didn’t know whether to feel honored or annoyed.

I know how feel.

How did she manage to do that? Hadn’t that same clip declared her one of the immediate favorites? How did she get people to talk to her?

Maybe she’s not a judgmental asshole who couldn’t take a compliment graciously if the universe depended on it.

America asks Marlee why she’s so awesome and impressive all the other girls are so jealous of her, and Marlee explains that all girls are bitches.

…okay, that’s kind of uncharitable to the book, but only kind of. The social dynamics she describes do happen in real life, and I’d probably glide right past this part if I wasn’t aware of the post-Twilight tendency for YA novels to vilify all women who aren’t the heroine while casting men as the sole sources of friendship and affection, but at the same time the book is being very consistent in sorting its female characters into categories depending on whether they pose a threat to America’s romantic interests. Girls in this book either recognize her superiority over them and are depicted as nice and good-looking (although not so good looking that they overshadow America) or they find her unimpressive, in which case they’re shallow, uninteresting airheads who dress like sluts and wear too much makeup. Or they’re May, who’s too young to compete with America and gets heaped with praise and affection because of it (watch out May, that’s not going to last long).

I’m not the only one seeing this, right? Hell, look at how the book treats America’s mother as an annoying asshole while her dad is practically the second coming of Christ– another post-Twilight trend.

See, it’s all about knowing the person, figuring out what will bug them the most. Lots of girls give me backhanded compliments, or little remarks, things like that.

I could almost buy that this is meant to be self-aware, since this is exactly what America’s narration has been doing.

“For you, someone kind of quiet and mysterious—”
“I’m not mysterious,” I interrupted.

God I hate this character.

“Better luck to you, Marlee. I’m sure Prince Maxon will be more than pleased to meet you.” I squeezed her hand one time.

I think the only thing that could salvage the book now is if Marlee actually won.

I suppose the effect was meant to be soothing, but I was ready to have them gone.

America’s reaction to her maids seems oddly muted. Like, they’re literally undressing and washing her. Most people who aren’t used to that sort treatment would find it extremely uncomfortable.

After the maids leave, she thinks about her uninteresting romantic spat with Aspen some more.

But the hope ached. And with the hope came homesickness, wishing May was sneaking into my bed like she sometimes did. And then fear that the other girls wanted me gone, that they might keep trying to make me feel small. And then nervousness at being presented to the nation on television for as long as I was here. And

AND THEN I FELT THIS EMOTION, AND WHEN I WAS DONE FEELING THAT EMOTION I FELT THE FOLLOWING, DIFFERENT EMOTION, AND THEN

America has a sudden panic attack out of nowhere, and decides that she needs to get out of the palace (it would have been nice to get some of this on her way in, when everyone was watching). Two guards try to stop her from going out into the garden, since I guess that would be a security risk.

Actually, I want to unpack that a bit. It is a security risk because we know that rebels have repeatedly gotten into the palace grounds, but their response to this really shouldn’t be to ban people from going into the gardens, it should be to get better security so rebels can’t break in whenever they feel like it.

How did I get here? How had I let this happen? What would become of me here? Would I ever get back any piece of the life I’d had before this?

Why is all of this only coming out now? America has reacted to the entire Selection process without batting an eyelid, but now suddenly she can’t stand it?

I was so consumed with my thoughts that I didn’t realize I wasn’t alone until Prince Maxon spoke.

“Are you all right, my dear?” he asked me.

“My dear”? Seriously? That makes him sound like an old man.

“That is an unfair statement. You are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest.”

This guy seems absolutely fascinating.

America rants some more about how the contest is bullshit, which Maxon finds charming for some reason.

“America, my dear, I do hope you find something in this cage worth fighting for. After all this, I can only imagine what it would be like to see you actually try.”

I’m getting increasingly bothered by how America constantly impresses everyone without even trying. You could read this as some sort of lesson about being yourself, but it feels more like the book is setting her up as naturally superior to all the other girls.

I looked at the warm spot on my hand, stunned for a moment. Then I turned to watch Maxon as he walked away, giving me the privacy I’d wanted all day.

ROMANCE INTENSIFIES

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Selection ch. 10

  1. AutobaanArjuna

    >“Are you all right, my dear?” he asked me.

    >“That is an unfair statement. You are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest.”

    I would have assumed that Prince Maxon was supposed to be a parody of a clueless, idiotic and overly pompous ruler but then, we have America. I guess we’re supposed to take him seriously too.

    Reply
  2. Signatus

    ” people whose hate I could feel radiating off in waves”

    So, why does everyone hate her?

    I see a couple of themes going on here. The first one is what a HUGE Mary Sue America is. She’s naturally beautiful so obviously every other female contestant is going to hate her, threatened as they are by her looks. If at some point America mentions being cursed by good looks or something I’m buying a copy of this book to burn in a purifying ritual.

    The second theme is the on-going myth that women are naturally hostile against other women because we compete for men, because men are so much more important than anything else and women are natural “bitches” that will not hesitate to destroy a friendship if they crave after a friend’s mate. This is stupid and sexist. Not because there aren’t women like these (there are, unfortunately, but that’s NOT a defining trait of women, the same as there are men who will not hesitate to rape a woman and that doesn’t make it a defining trait of all men), but because if falls into stereotypes (again!) and reinforces them. This is the sort of things you could see in mexican soap operas. Cass, that’s fucking FICTION. If I think back to all the friends I had I only remember ONE who would attempt to lure every other one’s boyfriends, and she was BPD (borderline personality disorder).

    Unlike what this woman seems to think, human females can engage in lasting, fulfilling relationships with other females without punching each other in the gut because we lust after the same guy.

    Gosh, I hate this book…

    “So the people seemed to like me, so what? ”

    People like her for absolutely NO REASON. America is such a huge Mary Sue. She’s naturally beautiful, a virgin (of course!) and even although she has done absolutely nothing to gain he people’s sympathy, she has it just because she’s that awesome. Of course, the rest of the contestants see her as a threat because all of them are power hungry, delusional believers in fairy tales who would murder to get under the prince’s pants.

    I’m guessing as the book goes on she will befriend the nice people, and be hated by all the evil people for absolutely no reason.

    “I’m not the only one seeing this, right?”

    No, you aren’t, and as female I’m sick of being portrayed as evil incarnate while men seemed to be beings made of light. This does NOT stay in the pages of some stupid romance fantasy book, this idea, this notion of evil women/pure men gets out of the pages and into the collective imagery. There are men out there (and many women too, apparently) who actually believe we’re nasty, evil creatures ready to bleed out and destroy whichever pure, sacred man crosses our path by asking them ludicrous things like “divorce” and “feed your kids”. I’m not going to say all females are beings of light, but being nasty is NOT a defining trait of my gender. Some individuals will be nasty, and others will be lovely people because we are complex animals with an enormous range of behaviors.

    Cass, while you reinforce the stereotype of women being nasty bitches I want to remind you female are being MURDERED all over the world because they committed the hideous crime of being born with a vagina. Thank you for contributing to making our lives a little better. As someone who managed to survive gender violence, I truly appreciate it. (/Sarcasm)

    “But the hope ached. And with the hope came homesickness”

    Cass, having America touch something she brought from home and crying is TOO hard for you to write and/or imagine? That up there? That’s dry, emotionless and completely useless. I’ve read books written by Beevor (he’s a historian, and his books are brick size) that conveyed more emotion than you.

    Show me, damnit! Show me America feeling homesick! Don’t tell me she’s homesick because what I’m honestly imagining in my head is America with a full on pokerface and doing absolutely nothing, because you’re not giving me ANYTHING to believe she’s actually feeling those emotions.

    “How did I get here? How had I let this happen?”

    I’m wondering exactly the same thing, because I’m still at a loss of why you volunteered to this stupid beauty pageant in the first place.

    “Would I ever get back any piece of the life I’d had before this?”

    What? It just dawned on you what you left behind? Cass, you suddenly realised what a traumatic event going to live abroad is or did you just happen to move to a different state and noticed that your protagonist was ridiculously cool about this whole thing?

    Too little too late.

    “That is an unfair statement. You are all dear to me. It is simply a matter of discovering who shall be the dearest.”

    Oh……….my………….God………….

    ” I do hope you find something in this cage worth fighting for”

    Well… he agrees with me. America would be a way MORE INTERESTING character if she’d actually had some sort of motivation SINCE page one of this book. As of now she’s as bland and empty as an easter egg. Fancy outside, completely empty inside and totally useless.

    “After all this, I can only imagine what it would be like to see you actually try.”

    After all what? Her running in panic out of her room? What has she friggin DONE to infatuate you so, prince Maxon? Oh yeah, I forgot. She’s a Mary Sue! Of course everyone (except the evil ones) are going to love her as soon as they set eyes on her. It was the same deal with Bella Sociopath… sorry, Swann. She never did anything. She was openly hostile and patronizing towards everyone else. She got way more attention than she deserved simply because she was the author’s self insert, wish fulfilment Mary Sue. Of course she’s not going to have her perfect unique snowflake creation have REALISTIC relationships!

    “warm spot on my hand, stunned for a moment”

    Cass, have you ever fallen in love? Or are you simply reproducing every friggin cliche you’ve found out there?

    Reply

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