Study Guide

The Selection

By Kiera Cass

The Selection Introduction

Some book jackets describe The Selection as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, but we think we can craft an even better mash-up. Just watch us.

It's Divergent meets The Kardashians. It's Mean Girls meets Battle Royale. It's I Wanna Marry Harry meets The Purge. It's 1984: The Romance Novelization.

In case we haven't made things clear, The Selection takes the established genre of YA dystopian fiction and adds a clever twist to the formula, trading the all that dirt and grime for some glitz and glamor. It centers on this thing called "The Selection," which takes place in this weirdo monarchy called Illéa. In the Selection, 35 women are chosen to compete for the heart of the country's prince, earning themselves a spot on the royal throne if they win.

All right, then.

Seems elaborate and a bit silly, but with the royal throne at stake, most Illéans would jump at this opportunity. So why isn't sixteen-year-old America Singer interested? Well, there's her secret boyfriend, Aspen, for one. There's her family for two. And for three, well, that Prince Maxon just seems like a stiff. A cute stiff, but a stiff nonetheless.

So you should understand why America is shocked when she's Selected and whisked away to the palace. We'd be, too. There, she not only grapples with her homesickness and feelings for Aspen, but she also confronts the exploitative nature of the Illéan government as a whole. Add some good old class warfare to the mix, and you've got the makings of a compelling story.

Bolstered by the success of The Selection, author Kiera Cass would go on to dive way deeper into the world of Illéa, writing four additional novels, several novellas, and a plethora of short stories to flesh out her world. So get ready, Shmoopers, because once you start this one, you're going to feel compelled to see America Singer's crazy story to its end.

And stay, tuned, folks: Keeping up with the Illéans will be returning after this brief commercial interruption.

What is The Selection About and Why Should I Care?

Putting aside its royal romances, its illicit make-out sessions, and its ever-frustrating indecisiveness, The Selection is all about individuality in the face of conformity.

After all, America isn't anything like the other girls in the Selection. She's from a lower caste. She's a musician. She lacks the refined manners and delicate, upper crust sensibilities of the others. Thrust into this situation, most people would just curl up into a ball and call it a day.

But there's no curling up here, folks. No matter what gets thrown her way—whether typical teenage cattiness or socio-economic exploitation—America retains a strong sense of identity and refuses to budge an inch. That's an admirable trait. What's more, it might be exactly the thing that wins her the heart of a certain prince we know...

If you're feeling like it's tough to hold on to your identity in the face of peer pressure or society's expectations, this is just the book for you.

The Selection Resources

Websites

Kiera Cass's Homepage
Kiera Cass has a prodigious online presence, and this website will be your gateway into it.

The Selection Wiki
Are you fiending for more contextual information? Enjoy this lovely, Selection-sized Wikipedia clone.

Movie or TV Productions

Kiera Cass Announces The Selection Film Adaptation
You knew it was coming, folks.

Articles and Interviews

The Daily Quirk Interviews Kiera Cass
Cass is one quirky gal, so she couldn't have found a better publication for this interview.

Kiera Cass talks about The One
Beware, all ye who enter: this interview touches on spoilers from later books in series. Still, if you don't mind, it's a great read.

Video

The Selection Book Trailer
Apparently books have trailers now?

Margot Wood Interviews Kiera Cass
This is a great, in-depth interview, but we've got to drop another spoiler warning. Bummer. Consider checking it out, though, even if you haven't read the later books.

Audio

Publishers Look for the Next Hunger Games
This piece from NPR doesn't touch on The Selection directly, but it does have some fascinating insight into the rise of the YA dystopian novel.

Images

Map of Illéa
Whoever was in charge of naming provinces in the Illéan government had a really silly sense of humor.