Let’s Read The Selection ch. 17.5


Last time on The Selection, we bailed out mid-way through a marathon-length chapter. This time: the rest of that chapter.

Chapter 17

So there’s some drama because, like, someone got de-Selected and no one knows why.

I’ve talked about this before, but the whole Selection process would be incredibly uninteresting to watch if success or failure was based entirely on Maxon’s whims, which the audience has no insight into.

There’s a whole lot of the girls being petty and jealous (women am I rite), then America gets some letters from home but let’s skip right past that because who cares.

Did you know we’re almost 75% of the way through this thing, and almost nothing has happened? A lot of the books we read on this blog see to have that particular quality.

Your Majesty—
Tugging my ear. Whenever.

What’s the point of having a secret signal if they’re still just going to write notes to each other?

She took it eagerly and walked away with a newfound energy. No doubt she would unfold it as soon as she was out of sight, but I felt secure in its odd phrasing.

So, this could backfire really badly if whoever read the note assumed that “tugging my ear” was code for something more salacious than just meeting for a chat, and then started spreading that rumour around. It would make more sense for the code phrase to be something that makes total sense but sounds like something else.

And while we’re on the subject, I don’t really get why America and Maxon are bothering to use codes at all. Theoretically, America doesn’t want the other contestants to know when and how often she’s meeting the prince because it could make her a target, but since she doesn’t want to win and Maxon has already pledged to keep her in the game for as long as possible, that’s a moot point.

Anyway, Maxon rolls up with his jacket off and his shirt sleeves rolled up to a sexy degree, and America suddenly notices that he’s hot (not that she actually realizes this is what’s going on, because she apparently has no insight into her own thoughts or feelings). Apparently he ran out of a budget meeting to come and talk to her.

“They go round and round in circles. Father does a good job at calming the advisers, but it’s so hard to push the committees in any given direction. Mom is always on Father to give more to the school systems—she thinks the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be a criminal, and I agree—but Father is never forceful enough to get them to take away from other areas that could manage perfectly with lower funds.

Hang on a second, Maxon’s dad is the king, not a democratically elected president. He can just tell them what to budget where; if they say no he can have them fired or imprisoned. That’s what absolute monarchs do.

“Well, don’t be too discouraged. Your mom is on the right path, but education alone won’t fix anything.”

This is probably going to be good.

“Well, compared to the fancy-pants tutors someone like you has, the education system for Sixes and Sevens is terrible. I think getting better teachers or better facilities would do them a world of good. But then what about the Eights? Isn’t that caste responsible for most of the crimes?

The Eights are the homeless people, remember.

Yeah, let that nugget of wisdom sink in for a second.

America asks Maxon to imagine that he was starving and asks what he’d do if he had the chance to save himself by stealing from someone who had more than they’d ever need; the implication seems to be that Maxon has never considered this question before, and America is totally blowing his mind right now.

“America, I’m not saying that some people don’t have it hard, but stealing is—”

And America’s follow-up question should be: why do some people have it hard?

In our real-life society, wealth disparity is absolutely an artificial construct. It is not, as many like to believe, the invisible and all-knowing hand of capitalism rewarding and punishing people in accordance with their natural abilities and work ethic, but a system designed to allow the wealthy to get wealthier at the expense of the poor. But it’s also an enormously complicated construct, mostly sustained by people who don’t even realize it exists and don’t understand the role they’re playing in it. It’s not something that can just be erased by decree.

America’s society isn’t like that. The lower castes are poor because of entirely arbitrary laws designed to keep them poor. Maxon’s father could abolish the entire thing with a single stroke of his pen; his refusal to do so is literally the only thing keeping the system as unjust as it is. This is an idea that doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone.

“Maybe you don’t know which face it is yet, but think of the girls in that room. Imagine the one who loves you the most. Imagine your ‘dear.’”
His hand was resting next to mine on the seat, and his fingers grazed mine for a second. I shied away from the touch.

Zomg u guys they’re falling in love

Let’s have some gender essentialism!

“This girl? Imagine that she depends on you. She needs you to cherish her and make her feel like the Selection didn’t even happen. Like if you were dropped on your own out in the middle of the country to wander around door to door, she’s still the one you would have found. She was always the one you would have picked.”
The hopeful smile began to settle. More than settle, it started to sag.
“She needs you to provide for her and protect her. And if it came to a point where there was absolutely nothing to eat, and you couldn’t even fall asleep at night because the sound of her stomach growling kept you awake—”

This is especially strange coming from America, considering her previous relationship fell apart because her asshole boyfriend couldn’t handle the idea that she was capable of providing for herself.

“Is it really like that?” he asked.
“Out there … does that happen? Are people hungry like that a lot?”

Dude, come on.

Rich jackasses know full well that there are starving people in the world–they’re not that sheltered–they just don’t care. They rationalize it away by saying that poor people are too lazy to work themselves out of poverty.

But no, apparently the idea of people going hungry just blows Maxon’s tiny mind, so America drops some truth bombs on him and he becomes totally woke. Is this book nearly over?





2 thoughts on “Let’s Read The Selection ch. 17.5

  1. Signatus

    “Did you know we’re almost 75% of the way through this thing, and almost nothing has happened?”

    UGH! I know Sanderson is not welcome in this area but at least, in the two books I’ve read, he manages to make things HAPPEN. What’s with boring YA romance writers who are unable to weave a plot even if their lives depended on it? Based on the content we’ve read so far, I would have said we weren’t anywhere near the first THIRD of the book. It feels like an introduction. Nothing is happening, Nothing has happened. This piece of tree crime doesn’t have a plot.

    “Well, don’t be too discouraged. Your mom is on the right path, but education alone won’t fix anything.”

    Why do I have a feeling I’m reading the author’s political thoughts?

    “But then what about the Eights? Isn’t that caste responsible for most of the crimes?”

    Excuse me? So you’re fucking telling me only poor people commit crimes? Rich people don’t commit crimes? RICH PEOPLE DON’T FUCKING STEAL??????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????

    I live in a country so ROTTEN with political and financial corruption my own grandmother, an illiterate post war era woman from a small town, was scammed by her OWN FUCKING BANK. She was sold some actives which are generally only sold to businessmen and companies because handling this active implies having a demonstrable knowledge of economics. MY GRANDMA CAN’T READ. Now the political powers wash their hands, lawyers vulture the affected trying to scrape a dime and the press insults my intelligence by telling me my grandmother, who I insist, can’t fucking READ, knew exactly what she was signing because these actives are only offered to people with demonstrable knowledge in economics.

    And this… this author, truly believes only poor people commit crimes? SERIOUSLY?

    And I’m not talking only about stealing or scamming (the stupid bank almost dilapidated what feeble economy remained standing). How about blood crimes? Rich people don’t kill? There is no gender violence in rich people’s homes? They don’t rape. This past summer a girl in my country was gang raped by five. One of them was a policeman. Upon investigating this group, they had been involved in more cases of gang rape. I repeat… a policeman.

    Crime is a poor people thing, Cass? Are you serious?

    “His hand was resting next to mine on the seat, and his fingers grazed mine for a second. I shied away from the touch.”

    This? This is actually decent, Cass. This is a bit of showing instead of pounding our heads into the telling department. WHY, just WHY would you ruin this subtle bit of development by overdoing it? You know what would have worked? If they weren’t actually talking about relationships. If they were actually talking about something completely different.

    Also… shying away from someone’s touch usually means you don’t want to be touched. I know you want to create an interpretation that she’s shying away because she likes him, but the truth is this is usually not the case. Women can be sexually proactive, my friend. Being reticent to the touch usually means that she’s NOT interested, she doesn’t want to be touched. You’re setting another of the many dangerous precedents where women consent is completely meaningless, you’re telling society that if a woman doesn’t want to be touched it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be touched, it means she likes the man touching him so he can insist all he wants because she actually likes him.

    So, thanks, Cass. You’ve managed to contribute to rape culture.

    “she depends on you”

    WTF? Maybe I’m already biased towards this book but I can’t read that sentence without wanting to rage out into crinos form.

    ” She was always the one you would have picked.”

    Because fuck women choice. Look, something I actually accept about the selection is the fact that all 35 women are there voluntarily. Their motives might be different (I still want to believe in academics looking for research funding), but all of them went there voluntarily.

    This bit up there. That stripped women completely of any sort of choice in the matter. The MALE is the proactive one. The MALE is the one sniffing females hidden in their caves. The MALE is the one that ultimately chooses the reactive and passive female, who is hiding, waiting in her little cave until the all powerful male sniffs her out.

    “She needs you to provide for her and protect her”

    You truly want me to rage out, don’t you?

    “Out there … does that happen? Are people hungry like that a lot?”

    Ok, I’ve suddenly realised I’m thinking about this book’s background more than its author. The only logical explanation to Maxon’s absolute ignorance about his people and the fact that the USA got an absolute monarchy after the chinese invaded was because the chinese never underwent revolution. Mao never rose to power. China is still an absolute monarchy and Maxon is a fucking emperor living in the Forbidden City.

    That explanation makes way more sense than the whole Ilea bullshit, and explains why Maxon knows nothing about his people without actually making him a complete idiot.

    Hey, Cass. Remember what I told you about conflict? Maxon being a rich asshat who would defend his views against America’s experience and knowledge would have actually created some conflict. Not a plot, but a bit of conflict, which this book is WAY LACKING of.

  2. plantpaladin

    I read How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia recently. It’s about the story of a boy making his way from poverty to becoming rich. It is very good at describing how hard it is being poor and how hollow making all that money makes him feel due to what it costs him.


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