Let’s Read The Selection ch. 12

 

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I know I said I wouldn’t update again until after January, but I had most of this post sitting completed in my draft queue, so consider it a surprise Christmas present.

Chapter 12

THE CAMERAS DID A LAP around the room and left to let us enjoy our breakfast in peace, getting one last shot of the prince before they departed.

The way this process is being filmed makes no sense.

There seems to be very little artifice to the whole thing. Even Maxon dismissing five of the contestants–the most “game-ish” thing that’s happened so far–consisted of a private chat, after which everyone sat down to breakfast as normal. Most of the footage being captured is just the girls going about their ordinary day to day routines, even though none of this is relevant to whether or not they succeed in the competition because Maxon’s judgement is the sole deciding factor, and we have no idea how he’s actually coming to those conclusions (America even comments on the fact that she there was no obvious reason for Maxon to choose the five that he did).

Compare this to something like Big Brother, where the audience decides who gets voted out, so theoretically every single second the contestants are on camera has weight since it can sway the viewers’ opinions of them. If that wasn’t the case–if the contestants were eliminated by a single judge whose decision making process was entirely unknown–then no one would tune in. Watching people eat breakfast and argue with each other is fucking boring if you’re not being invited to take part in the competitive aspect of the whole affair.

The orange juice was so pure that I had to take smaller sips just to absorb it.

…what

The eggs and bacon were heaven, and the pancakes were perfectly done, not too thin like the ones I made at home.

Oh good heavens, her pancakes are too thin (which seems to be more due to America being bad at cooking them than any sort of privation), this sure is a real rags to riches story.

America realizes that she’s the only (former) Five left in the contest and very briefly worries about it, then goes back to rhapsodizing about how awesome her strawberry tart is.

I heard lots of little sighs all around me and knew I wasn’t the only one enjoying the food.

[…]

I didn’t mean to make the little moan, but it was by far the best thing I had ever tasted.

I think they’re enjoying this food a little too much.

Maxon asks America how she likes the food, and there’s a brief little scene where her mouth is too full for her to respond that I actually liked a lot, since it’s both funny and kind of tense. Unfortunately, it’s immediately followed by this utterly baffling conversation:

“It’s excellent, Your Majesty. This strawberry tart … well, I have a sister who loves sweets more than I do. I think she’d cry if she tasted this. It’s perfect.”

Maxon swallowed a bite of his own breakfast and leaned back in his chair. “Do you really think she would cry?” He seemed exceedingly amused at the idea. He did have strange feelings toward women and crying.

I thought about it. “Yes, actually, I do. She doesn’t have much of a filter when it comes to her emotions.”

“Would you wager money on it?” he asked quickly.

I think it’s meant to be playful, mildly flirtatious banter, but instead it comes off like someone slipped acid into the pancake mix and they’re both tripping balls. He’s asking her if she’d like to bet on whether a dessert would make her little sister cry? What the fuck?

“If she cries, I want to wear pants for a week,” I offered.

WHAT IS GOING ON

And yes, Maxon actually tells someone to deliver strawberry tarts to America’s house and watch as May eats them, which is even weirder and creepier in context than that description makes it sound.

America loses the bet, which means she has to go on a walk around the palace grounds with Maxon. This is treated like some sort of dire hardship, even though she was in the gardens with him just the previous night under far more awkward circumstances.

There had to be a telephone around here somewhere, but so far no one had made us aware of it. Even if I had one in my room, it would probably be overkill to call home daily. Besides, these letters would be fun to hold on to.

I assume there’s going to be some plot development later on that wouldn’t work if America could contact her family easily, thus this explanation for why she can’t.

Although on that note, she sends a letter to them in the morning and gets these replies back the same day, even though it took an (apparently quite long) plane ride to get from where America lives.

And hang on a second, how did Maxon’s servant dude get the strawberry tarts to America’s family that quickly? Did he fly over on Maxon’s personal jet, just to deliver some pastries as part of a stupid bet? It’s like the book forgot that America lives in a completely different part of the country.

My maids had already put me in my evening dress: a little blue thing with an empire waist and capped sleeves.

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Nothing says sexy, smouldering passion like 18th century dresses and sedate garden strolls.

The opening chapters of this thing were actually surprisingly horned up for a YA novel, but now we’re in full-on Jane Austen comedy of manners territory. I wonder how that happened.

He smiled. “Perhaps. Next time we’ll try to make her laugh.”

I instantly started running scenarios through my mind. What from the palace would make May just die with laughter?

How about some of the terrible dialogue in this book BAM KAPOW

“Just that. Your family must be very different from mine.”

“I’d say so.” I laughed. “For one, no one wears their tiaras to breakfast.”

Maxon smiled. “More of a dinner thing at the Singer house?”

“Of course.”

Eh, they’ve actually got some decent banter.

“After me there’s May. She’s the one who sold me out and didn’t cry. Honestly, I was robbed; I can’t believe she didn’t cry!

How fucking long are they going to spend talking about this?

Then again, it’s basically the only important plot event that’s happened in the last three chapters, so it’s not like there’s anything else to focus on.

Maxon’s arms were huge. Even beneath the layers of his suit, I could feel the strong, steady muscles there.

This really took me by surprise. Nothing about Maxon’s previous physical description made him seem especially swole, and his general demeanor comes off as bookish and kind of withdrawn, rather than the sort of personality type that would be drawn to body building.

Just past them a camera crew waited. Of course they would want to be present for the prince’s first date. Maxon shook his head at them, and they retreated indoors immediately.

This TV show is really going to suck.

Once the camera crews are gone, Maxon says something that comes out vaguely skeezy by accident, so America assumes he’s about to rape her and knees him in the thigh. No, really.

This makes Maxon angry and he tells her she needs to have dinner in her room that night (creeper siren activates), but when she gets back there’s a big package waiting for her, containing several pairs of pants.

You ask for such simple things, I can’t deny you. But for my sake, only on Saturdays, please.

CREEPER SIREN INTENSIFIES

Maxon and America’s previous bae whose name I’ve forgotten are both creepy possessive weirdos, but in terms of personality it seems like they’ve gotten mixed up. Given the usual conventions of the romance genre you’d think what’s his face would be the “safe”, uninteresting option while Maxon is the dangerous bad boy, but instead it’s the other way around.

I know it sounds like I’m arguing for the story to be more formulaic and cliched, but sometimes cliches take root for a reason. If America ended up with Alpro or whatever, at least that would involve some tension and conflict since it would mean abandoning the security and financial status that Maxon can give her. Choosing Maxon (which is what she ends up doing) doesn’t involve any sacrifice or hardship beyond some airy-fairy nonsense about not being true to her herself.

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Selection ch. 12

  1. reveen

    The orange juice was so pure that I had to take smaller sips just to absorb it.

    YES, I WILL ABSORB YOUR CITRUS SUSTENANCE WITH MY HYOO-MAN FACE

    Seriously, why can’t bad writers figure out how to write something as simple as eating? Have you ever moaned like you’re having an orgasm when you ate something really tasty? No? We’ll congrats, you should be prepared to write people enjoying food now.

    Reply
    1. Elisabeth

      “Have you ever moaned like you’re having an orgasm when you ate something really tasty?”

      Um. Guilty as charged. But never over something like orange juice, eggs, bacon, and pancakes.

      If the royal family is extravagant and wasteful enough to run a reality show while they’re at war (the author seems to keep forgetting this), I’d expect them to have much fancier food, like caviar crepes and imported fruit, instead of something even their lower-caste citizens could have in their own homes.

      Reply
  2. Signatus

    Merry Christmas to you too. 🙂

    “THE CAMERAS DID A LAP around the room and left to let us enjoy our breakfast in peace”

    I keep getting a vibe that this was originally intended as a fairy tale and then certain modern day elements were added to make it a dystopia. The Hunger Games was, if I remember correctly, thought out as criticism towards reality TV. I do remember the author telling in an interview she came across the idea after watching some reality show and dreaming about it, or something along the lines.

    This doesn’t feel like it. This doesn’t feel like it is trying for any social commentary at all. I’m not saying all books should have some social commentary, but this one is outrageously ridiculous, It’s throwing at us a bunch of customs and laws and telling us that, hey, not to get too heated about it because this is the way things are and that’s it.

    Actually, this is fu….ing Twilight. I’m getting the same feeling I got from Twilight. A completely dry and delusional Suethor fantasy where the main char is an evident self insert, a way for the author to live her own fantasies. I don’t have anything against that, but for goodness sake, keep this things to yourself! This is not publishable material… or shouldn’t have been.

    “I heard lots of little sighs all around me and knew I wasn’t the only one enjoying the food.”

    You know? This would have a lot more impact if we had actually seen a society of starving citizens. The only one we’ve been told to have issues making ends meet was Aspen, and he didn’t seem to be doing that badly. Aladdin showed us a rogue stealing to eat and then sharing his food with two starving kids. That was actually a credible introduction of the character and his empoverished origins.

    So far we’ve seen America eating chicken and pop corns, using all sorts of spices and, essentially, eating like a middle class USA citizen. Cass is treating the scene as if they had never tasted real food in their lives because they are all so poor. Sorry, it isn’t working.

    You know why else it isn’t working? Because the best crepes and the best cheescake I’ve ever tasted were both around 3-5 euros, so… not high cuissine but the taste and the texture was amazing.

    Also, these low caste girls are having breakfast… are they behaving properly? If so, how do they know the protocol? Why such emphasis on the food and no emphasis on the behavior of these women at the table? I mean, if I had to dine with the king I wouldn’t even know how to use the bread. Royal protocol is not something you usually learn at school.

    “He did have strange feelings toward women and crying.”

    There could be an interesting story behind this issue, but I’m afraid all we’re getting is that Maxon is a pompous, overprotected, little manchild asshole.

    “If she cries, I want to wear pants for a week,” I offered.”

    So Cass is treating America like the rebellious girl who wants to wear boy things like pants and shirts. Cass, the fact that some people actually like wearing pants is that ludicrous to you? Also, did you know that when I was a child I refused to wear dresses because boys loved playing to lift the girl’s skirts to see their undies? I started wearing dresses again when I started college.

    ” It’s like the book forgot that America lives in a completely different part of the country.”

    It probably did. Like I said, I keep getting the vibes this was edited and all the dystopia elements were added later, thus this kind of things might have gone unnoticed upon editing. It’s possible that the first draft had America’s home and the prince’s castle relatively close by… like in most fairy tales.

    “My maids had already put me in my evening dress: a little blue thing with an empire waist and capped sleeves.”

    Ahem… as I was saying…

    “Maxon shook his head at them, and they retreated indoors immediately.”

    So… how does this TV show work again?

    “CREEPER SIREN INTENSIFIES”

    I’m… seriously disgusted and horrified at that last part.

    Reply

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