Let’s Read The Selection ch. 16 – 17.5

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Chapter 16

When we last left our heroine, she had just poured her heart out to prince Maxon and received an assurance that he’d keep her in the Selection contest for as long as possible, thus robbing the story of all possible tension.

This whole process of Maxon whittling down thirty-five women to one was going to take weeks, maybe months.

Everyone settle down for a nice, long, relaxing time as America slowly–ever so slowly–gets over Aspen.

Man, it sure would be awkward if he turned up as a palace guard or something contrived like that, wouldn’t it?

I bowed my head. It was sweet of her to think so highly of me. I felt a bit uncomfortable when people talked about me that way, though… May, Kenna, my maids … it was hard to believe how many people thought I’d be a good princess.

In case it wasn’t already clear, this is basically the over-riding dynamic of America’s character: people constantly tell her how awesome and beautiful she is while she insists that she’s totally not awesome and beautiful, no way.

Have you ever met someone who refuses to accept a compliment because they’re actually angling for you to compliment them even more in response to their protests? That’s what America does, except we can’t get away from her because she’s the protagonist.

I’m not going to go line by line through this chapter, since not a whole lot actually happens: there’s a long, incredibly drawn out conversation between America and Marlee about how hot Maxon is, the others girls start getting jealous about how much attention America and Marlee are getting from him, then someone named Anna slaps someone named Celeste (women am I right) and gets de-Selected.

Chapter 17

“WHO WAS THE PRESIDENT OF the United States during the Third World War?” Silvia quizzed us.

In the alternate-history scenario of The Selection, the answer to this question is “President Wallis”. In case you’ve forgotten, we learned way back at the start of the book that world war three occurred when China invaded the US due to unpaid debts.

“The Chinese invasion prompted several countries, particularly those in Europe, to align themselves with one another and make alliances.”

As we all know, Europe in real life is notably lacking in significant alliances.

We get more awkward history info-dumps, informing us that China turned the US into a puppet state, but then Russia started expanding its borders in all directions (which… does feel all too plausible, you get one point for that, book) so the entire continent of North America banded together to fight back and managed to both beat back the Russian aggression and get out from under the yoke of China, who were busy fighting Russia on their own front.

This is all massively implausible for several reasons. It would be petty and mean-spirited of me to point them all out, so let’s get started:

  1. The way the story is framed makes it sound as if the Chinese were taken by surprise when they invaded the US and discovered that country was bankrupt, even though America’s inability to pay the owed debts–which is what prompted the invasion in the first place–would have indicated already
  2. If one country was looking to secure repayment from another, they probably wouldn’t seek it in the form of cash, instead opting for natural resources or other economic assets. An historical example of this is France occupying the Ruhr region of Germany (and more importantly the area’s valuable mines) when the Weimar republic was unable to keep up with reparation payments mandated by the treaty of Versailles
  3. While we’re on the subject, note that France didn’t decide to invade and occupy all of Germany in response to this, likely because they recognized that invasions and occupations are extremely expensive and would probably wipe out most of the economic value of doing the invasion in the first place (although this doesn’t apply in cases where the invader is already prosecuting a war against a third party and just needs resources to funnel into that fight, expenses be damned–see for example Hitler invading Russia in large part to get at its sweet, sweet oil-fields, which the Third Reich needed badly to keep their military operating–so this would make more sense if the fight against Russia was already ongoing, and that’s why China decided to annex the US).
  4. Seriously, a large portion of European countries are already as allied as they can possible be without actually joining together into a single nation-state, and those alliances include compulsory mutual defence clauses. This is part of why the real-life Russia’s recent belligerence toward its neighbours is so worrying: not because of the possibility that the other European countries won’t come to a potential invadee’s aid, but that they will and drag the entire continent into a conflict that could easily launch world war 3.

Anyway, after all this went down some dude named Gregory Ilea became king (the book is extremely vague on how this adoption of feudal monarchy came about, seemingly treating it as a spontaneous occurrence once the previous system was removed).

For Gregory Illéa, he became a king as his family married into a royal family

So…wait, there were already royal families in America before the war? Or does she mean one of the European ones? Which one? Why would that turn America into a monarchy? Even if it did, wouldn’t it be a constitutional monarchy, like modern European states with royal families?

(Apparently, Ilea does indeed become a constitutional monarchy at the end of the trilogy. I am extremely interested to see how that happens).

Apparently studying all of this is frowned upon, and it’s implied that the girls are only being given this information because they might be helping to run the country some day. But…why? Nobody seems to have a problem with any of it. It doesn’t make America reconsider anything, and much earlier she stated that the caste system was a holdover from the formation of the new country so clearly some of this information is already common knowledge.

“Rebel attack in Midston, Your Majesty,” he said. Maxon sighed and dropped his head wearily. “They burned acres of crops and killed about a dozen people.”

So the rebels do carry out more violent attacks. And yet they can’t manage to actually kill the royal family or do any serious damage to the palace despite breaking into it over and over again.

I raised myself up and gave a shy smile to the camera as the photographer clicked away. In the middle of those last few frames, Maxon squeezed my hand tight, and I did the same to his. In that moment, it felt like we had a connection, something true and deep.

Oh mah gawd, they’re falling in love you guys.

Anyway this chapter is a long one–it looks like something mildly eventful might actually happen!– so I’m going to call it here and come back to it in the next post.

 

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4 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Selection ch. 16 – 17.5

  1. Neremworld

    “Translation; This was originally a fantasy medieval setting and when it became a post apocalyptic distopia I had to justify somehow how the USA became an absolute monarchy and why it is called Ilea all of a sudden.”

    I see this as a root of a lot of worldbuilding failures. Like one book series I read did this but with Age of Sail Britian, putting it in a scifi setting, without understanding much about Britian.

    So you had legal duels to the death (which were illegal in Britian at the time) where the challenged was automatically considered guilty of whatever they were challenged over if they refused to force a situation where they had to be accepted so the protagonist could kill their politicial foes personally.

    Reply
  2. braak

    there’s a lot of reasons why invading the continental US is an extremely terrible idea, something that’s been a huge contributor to the US becoming a super-power after the world wars — I’d think a more likely scenario here is that a bankrupt US would collapse into civil war, and then one or more factions would actually invite China to occupy.

    Reply
  3. Signatus

    “was going to take weeks, maybe months.”

    No, it’s going to take several boring, plotless books.

    ” it was hard to believe how many people thought I’d be a good princess.”

    First, I live in a monarchy. Opinions aside about whether in the XXI century it is logical to maintain medieval government structures, my country’s today king married a commoner instead of someone from royalty. For months she had to endure an education process to learn how to behave, the protocols, what was expected of her once she became queen, etc. She had to endure the SAME process the young prince went by when he was nothing but a kid, because being queen is not only getting a crown on your head and giving orders, it is a huge responsibility and comes with certain obligations.

    So, I don’t give a shit how good a queen people believe America will be, because she will be UNABLE to be a good queen as long as nobody teaches her how to be a queen, and this is pretty much what happens in EVERY SINGLE FRIGGIN JOB. You might be a fantastic delivery service girl, but unless you get taught how to deliver, you’re not delivering shit. Why is America going to be such a good princess? Because she’s pretty? What can she do? What does she know? How does she behave? Aside from moaning, which is not very polite, have we seen any indication that all this girls don’t know how to behave appropriately in a table? And that’s simply one of many things we should expect.

    Second, this is another example of “show don’t tell”. America is told as humble, a swan that sees herself as an ugly duckling. In reality she’s coming across as greedy, someone who is using false modesty to gather more compliments so it is not very believable. Also, this is another example of the author using secondary characters to compliment their protagonist. It’s kind of funny because Kiera Cass is committing every single amateur mistake in the list, the same as Stephenie Meyer.

    It is also a very, VERY obvious case of show don’t tell. I don’t care how many people tell me that America will be a good queen. I want to see America showing aptitudes that she will be a good queen. There, I fixed your book. Start doing that and MAYBE you’ll even get a plot.

    “particularly those in Europe, to align themselves with one another and make alliances.”

    What… excuse me? My country alone has alliances with several of the MIddle East and North African countries, specially Morocco, and that’s without getting into the EU scenario. I’m not expecting you to know shit about one of the largest countries in Europe, but at least, for goodness sake, look up what that funny “EU” thing is you ignorant idiot.

    “For Gregory Illéa, he became a king as his family married into a royal family”

    Translation; This was originally a fantasy medieval setting and when it became a post apocalyptic distopia I had to justify somehow how the USA became an absolute monarchy and why it is called Ilea all of a sudden.

    “In that moment, it felt like we had a connection, something true and deep.”

    This? This was completely unnecessary. Cass, repeat with me, LESS IS MORE AND YOUR READERS ARE NOT STUPID.

    Reply

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