Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Selection Trilogy

The Selection ***1/2
by Kiera Cass
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia, Romance
Summary: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself--and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: For me this book was kind of like "The Bachelor" meets a dystopic novel, meets a Shannon Hale novel. Weird right? But strangely enough it WORKED. For me. I thought Prince Maxon was adorable. I was rooting for him almost from the beginning. It really began the first time America and Prince Maxon met. Okay this is a ridiculously cheesy, sappy, silly love story but it was really fun! It has a great story and great characters that you're cheering for throughout the story! I wasn't sure I would get into this story because it wasn't chuck full of action and nobody dies BUT the friendship and love that develops in the story is real and satisfying. It was so fun to read this strange compilation of modern, futuristic, and archaic behaviors and styles. They do talk shows on t.v., wear big beautiful dresses, and live under a caste system... all of this is a result of a future war destroying the country and the world trying to find a new way to live, again. So fascinating, well developed and honestly just some good old fashioned fun. Bring on the drama! Who will get cut? Who will MAKE the cut? And in the end, who will Prince Maxon pick? Who will America pick? Call me intrigue! I can't wait to find out more!

The Elite ***1/2
by Kiera Cass
Book Type: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia, Romance
Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.
America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.
Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

summary found on goodreads
My Review: AHHHHHHHH. I don't know what it is about these books. I like them but I can't really say WHY. Okay. America is still unsure which boy she wants. FIGURE IT OUT AND MOVE ON. She does. Pretty quickly actually. I was surprised. So of course OF COURSE something horrible and devastating had to happen and confuse our dear America all over again. So she's all evasive and distant with both boys again getting close to one, pushing them away and playing the game with the other once again. She is totally like someone I knew in college who I won't name JUST IN CASE. But I believe Stuart Back may just know who I'm referring to... AHEM. Anyway. Back and forth back and forth. THEN. Out of the blue one of her crushes starts to act like he's falling for someone else. WHAT WHAT? Yeah duh America, that's what happens when you can't commit girl. So I was surprised but not shocked. Maybe a bit disappointed. Anyway. Lots of intrigue, drama, back biting, treachery, and more going on in this story. It was more exciting and fast paced than the first one once it picked up. And then the end. Oh my gosh the end. SO. I totally knew America wouldn't get kicked out of the competition. She can't or there is no third book. Right? So I kind of saw the end coming... but also totally didn't. Yeah, it was a good way to leave me hanging. Wrapped up the current drama and lack of communication and opened up the story for a totally different direction. So yeah. This book was as good as the first in the end. It kind of irritated me at first because Maxon was so lovey dovey and understanding and I was like, he's a teenage boy YEAH FREAKING RIGHT. Finally he starts acting human and making mistakes, which I liked.... I didn't love everything that happened in this story, but overall I thought it was a lot of fun. Oh gosh I can't wait for the next book. But I just need to read a few other stupid exciting books and I'll be fine. Where's my copy of Incarceron?...

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Wonder *****
by R.J. Palacio
Book Type: Juvenile Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Summary: You can't blend in when you were born to stand out.
My Name is August.
I won't describe what i look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
summary found on goodreads
My Review: This book is absolutely phenomenal. I experienced a myriad of emotions while reading this story from triumph, laughter, and joy to heart breaking sadness and tears. I absolutely loved it. It is a beautiful, heart rending story about a young boy who is just a little different... looking. He has a face that invokes fear on those who see him. But he is just a normal kid, in his mind. He starts public school for the first time in fifth grade, he's had enough surgeries and procedures that he is stable and can handle being away from home for extended periods of time. He goes in as a "lamb to the slaughter" according to his father, and finds a place in this world. He struggles a lot as he tries to make friends and enjoy being in a school setting. I loved the family relationships in this book. I LOVED how his sister adores him and stands up for him but it still human, she's embarrassed to have her new friends meet him. But he is a part of her and embarrassed or not, she isn't ashamed of who he is. I love how much his parents love and protect their son but learn to let go a bit in this story. They start to allow him room to grow. 
The story is told from multiple perspectives, which at first I wasn't happy about, but just a few paragraphs into the first new voice I realized how brilliant that tactic was. We see the same story from multiple views. We see Auggie the way other people see him, not just himself. We feel the shock and horror of meeting him for the first time and the peace and love that develops for him as his character is discovered. 
Throughout the story there are many cruel and horrible people who treat August and his friends as though they are freaks. I absolutely love that his friends stand up for him, that they prefer his company over the "popular kids" and they choose to be "rejects" rather than give up August's friendship. Oh the woes of being a middle schooler. I love the line towards the end of the story: "I didn't destroy a Death Star or anything like that, but I did just get through the fifth grade. And that's not easy, even if you're not me."
I love August's character. He is a very intelligent young boy and is very aware of the way he looks to other people. He is self-deprecating but has a great sense of humor. He is able to joke about the way he looks. He knows that people fear him, he's used to the looks and whispers that erupt whenever he's around. He's not blind to his uniqueness. But in the end, he IS just like everybody else. He has his nerdy side - his love for everything Star Wars, and his vulnerable side - his response to how he is treated and other events in the story. But he is not a baby. He is SO strong. I've had friends bad mouthing me and been treated badly before and it hurts, but August handles the hand he's dealt incredibly maturely.
This book is fabulous. Absolutely wonderful. I read it in less than a day. The chapters are short which makes it easy to whip through. The characters are dynamic, realistic, imperfect, and heart felt. It is easy to follow August on this journey. I can't say enough good things about this book. But I will stop here. Read this book. You won't regret it.
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