Monday, July 11, 2016

Hate-Reading The Selection: Updates & Opinions

Hey, y'all! So today, I'm going to be doing some hate-reading. Just briefly, before I jump into anything else, here's my little disclaimer about hate-reading.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post on the topic of hate-reading, which you can check out by clicking here. In that post, I discuss what it means to hate-read and include a disclaimer discussing my intentions when hate-reading a book. I won't go into full details, given that I wrote that whole post about it, but the long and short of it is this: hate-reading doesn't have to be malicious, and I don't intend for it to be. I'm not here to bash a book, and I'm certainly not here to belittle anyone for liking this book. My point here is not to offend, but to approach criticism with a snarky, comedic tone; to point out the ridiculousness of a book in a humorous way. So I urge you to remember all of this before leaving an angry comment.

That being said, let's take a look at the book I'm going to be hate-reading. And that is The Selection by Kiera Cass.

By the way, what even is this cover? Like... she looks like she's smelling her armpit. Not to mention the "girl in a dress on the cover" trope. Props for the dress being pretty, though. However, I do have to say that I think that the dresses on the spin-off books (The Heir & The Crown) are absolutely gorgeous and leagues better than the dresses on the covers of the original trilogy.

Anyway, this book has been on my radar for about as long as I've been on BookTube. Quite honestly, I've never really intended to pick it up, simply because it's not really my thing. I'm a self-described reality competition junkie. I can't even count the number of reality competitions I've watched throughout the years. But in that time, I've never watched a single episode of either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Ever. It just always seemed too dumb and too ridiculous. But, the temptation is there to watch an episode simply to laugh at it. And that's kinda what I intend to do with The Selection. It has pretty much the same premise as The Bachelor, and from reviews I've read, the writing, world-build, plot, and characters all seem to be on-par quality-wise with what I'd expect from The Bachelor (AKA laughably bad). Because of this, I expect to thoroughly enjoy every second of reading what I expect to be a laughably bad/cheesy book.

Continue reading below to join me on this adventure, as I will be doing updates whenever something stands out, is completely ridiculous, or is just plain dumb. I'm so excited, y'all.
July 5th:
acknowledgement/dedication: So the dedication reads "Hi, Dad! *waves*" and I'm not sure if that's cute or annoying. I'm gonna go with cute for now, but I feel like this is just a little taste of the fluffiness that is yet to come...

pg 1: Starting off strong, y'all. "So far, I had a solid collection of my honest opinions. . . I didn't think there was a single one she would listen to." Someone explain that ellipsis to me. Please. And it's unnaturally spaced out as well. I fail to see how that makes any sense there. 

pg 2: "We did a silent dance through the kitchen and dining room..." There's nothing wrong with this, I just think it's a really weird phrasing, especially since they're mad at each other. Also, we just got an entire paragraph about how her mouth was watering for tea with lemon. Tea is not that dramatic. 

pg 4: Kiera Cass does understand that China acknowledges Jan 1 as the start of the new year, right? They still celebrate it at the traditional time, but the year still starts on January 1st...

pg 8: This dialogue hurts. "I'm so average." "Stop it, you're so pretty." "Am I actually pretty?" "You totally know you're pretty." *dramatization* *but not by much*

pg 12: "Finally the intruder spoke, a sly grin spreading across his face. 'Hey there, gorgeous.'" How is this romantic? This excerpt could easily be inserted into a horror movie and be incredibly creepy.

pg 15: "If only I could sit and patch them up for him. That was my great ambition. Not to be Illea's princess. To be Aspen's." Literally everything about this hurts me. 

pg 27: I love that we just got a quick little run-down of what's happening, in case we somehow didn't understand. Also, yes, I went a whole 12 pages without updating, but only because that whole chapter was cringey and there wasn't just one single moment that stood out. 

pg 33: Just realized that I haven't noted this yet, but the fact that America Singer is a... wait for it... singer is one of the most silly things I've ever read.

pg 45: Side note, the inherent sexism in this society is already about to drive me crazy, and not just toward the women-- America just mentioned that she couldn't see herself with such a "wimp" as Maxon.

July 6th:
pg 50: "America, I'm supposed to be providing for you. It's humiliating for me to come here and have you do all this for me."... "I'm not some charity case, America. I'm a man. I'm supposed to be a provider." Again, with these stupid, seemingly pointless gender norms. First off, she's a class higher than him and has talents, so she's perfectly capable of providing for herself. Also, she literally made you food from the little money that she earned, because she knows you can't always afford to eat, and you have the audacity to be humiliated because of some seemingly arbitrary gender norms? Dude, get over yourself and eat the stupid food. //endrant.

pg 53: UPDATE! They just broke up over the food argument. LOL. That's the silliness I'm here for!

pg 56: y'all, she was chosen for the selection! Didn't see that one coming, did you?

pg 58: Her body now belongs to her country. Literally, her body has now become an object to be possessed by a country. ugh.

pg 64: "This isn't exactly a rule, but it would be unwise of you to ignore it. When you are invited to do something with Prince Maxon, you do not refuse. No matter what it is. Dinner, outings, kisses-- more than kisses-- anything. Do not turn him down." Great, so on top of all the other things that Maxon has control over, he also basically gets to do whatever he wants with her. Fabulous.

pg 76: America, you're in your upper teen years. DO NOT call your father "Daddy." It's just weird.

pg 90: Guys, this makeover scene is literally ripped from the pages of The Hunger Games.

pg 96: "Do you think Maxon will like it?" "Of course! What guy doesn't like a gorgeous blonde?" cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe. This dialogue hurts me. Also, there's a specific "Women's Room." Because even rooms have to be divided by gender in this society! :)

pg 99: So everyone in this society has really out there, unique names, and the maids are called Lucy, Anne, and Mary. It feels like Cass just chose the first 3 basic female names she could think of and was like "OK done!"

pg 102: It bears mentioning, but the entire point of the competition within this novel is to pit women against each other in a competition for a man's affection, which is just so obnoxiously stereotypical and catty that it almost physically hurts. Haven't women been portrayed as catty, gossipy, & unable to cooperate for long enough? I fail to understand why a woman would want to write a series in a world that she created that has such inherent, seemingly arbitrary, sexism ingrained in the society.

July 7th:
pg 104: "He is someone in this room's future husband, after all." A few girls sighed at the thought. Excuse me while I vomit. This is about as cliche as it gets.

pg 118: Currently LOLing at the scene that just happened in the garden. As usual, the dialogue is just uncomfortable. America is unnecessarily obnoxious and whiny. Maxon is rigid and awkward. Hooray. (Side note: If Maxon doesn't promptly stop saying "my dear," I'm gonna lose it.)

pg 123: "Tsk-Tsk. A lady never raises her voice above a gentle whisper?" Oh yeah, lady? Since the whole room just heard you, I'm going to assume you said that above a gentle whisper.

pg 125: Image that, guys! Prince Maxon has taken a liking to our little special snowflake! I'm so surprised! And when he smiled at her, she completely changed her mind! How romantic.

pg 136: I'm sorry, but that just seems like the silliest way, plot-wise, to create a way for America to have alone time with Maxon. Some weird, random bet? Shouted across the room for almost no reason? It's so ridiculous and just... weird.

pg 141: She's getting nervous about being with Maxon alone, and doesn't know why! What could it mean?! (obviously you're beginning to develop feelings, dummy.)

pg 159: Ooh, Prince Maxon has some theories no one will listen to! Given how this book has been going so far, he's probably right. #basic.

pg 178: Literally every time "King Clarkson" is mentioned, all I can think of is Kelly Clarkson. #sorrynotsorry. Also, America is now excited by the idea of Maxon visiting her that night. Shocker.

pg 197: Wow, she's starting to like him! Didn't see that coming! Also, I know that I haven't had snarky things to say for the last ~40 pages but that's mostly because it actually hasn't been that bad. Maybe it's that I'm getting used to it, but there haven't been as many cringey, awful moments. Sure, it's still incredibly cheesy, and the dialogue is mostly just ... ugh. But it hasn't been quite as awful. Actually, it's been almost sweet. Almost.

July 8th
pg 200: Here we go again with everyone telling America she's amazing and her feeling uncomfortable and unworthy.

pg 207: And now we have girls actually slapping each other. Lovely.

pg 212: So we just got a scene that was obviously meant to be for world-build. The Selected girls are being quizzed on their knowledge of Illea's history, which serves to inform the reader of the history. This is problematic on so many levels. First, this scene is just very clumsy. Given that they're going to be selected on their personality and looks, their knowledge of the country's history doesn't seem like it's going to pop up anytime soon. So this is a rather clunky attempt at masking world-build for something that's actually important to the plot. Second, this is a really flimsy world build. Third World War, China invading, attacking Russia, these are all the easy explanations. It's just so baseline and surface level that it seems boring and unoriginal.
Also, this whole no written history thing-- clearly they're trying to hide something. If that was meant to be a subtle hint that something suspicious is going on, it's not. It's really obvious. And if this is a dead end, then she wasted our time with something meaningless and pointless.
One last note before I continue: At this point, a US history book would be hundreds of years old. And yet America's dad just happened to have one lying around the house? Really?

pg 218: What? Her feels are getting stronger and she thinks it's just nerves? I'm shocked.

pg 257: Ok, so now that she's finally realized that she has feelings for him (only because he kissed her), she's convinced that she's now the one. Like... slow your roll. 5 seconds ago, you were telling him you just wanted to be friends.

pg 262: Guys. There's literally a place called Honduragua in this story. Cass literally just created a super-country by creating a ship name for Honduras & Nicaragua. What even?

pg 264: "Why don't you run along?" And here, everyone, we have an example of a cliche line. America is annoying. Blahblahblah nothing new here.

pg 268: "I looked beneath my eyelashes at Maxon and smiled." I'm sorry but what does that even mean? That phrasing is just... what? Like yes, America, your eyes are under your eyelashes. Proud of you. Unless this is talking about her bottom lashes? This just makes no sense.

pg 289: So America and Maxon have been all buddybuddy for more than half of this book and suddenly she disagrees with him and he pulls out the "I am lord and master of this country" stuff and calls her "Lady America" again? I'm so over this. He was becoming vaguely likable and then goes and pulls something like this. That's one thing Kiera Cass is really good at-- making characters overreact.

pg 290: Ok, so America has been tossing and turning "for hours" and then out of nowhere, Aspen opens the door and comes in? That's creepy. Like, she didn't even indicate that she was still awake, but here he comes barging in. Not cool. Also, she's had mixed emotions about him for the entire book, and suddenly now that he barges in and practically forces himself on her, she's glad to make out with him? Even while saying she hates him? Really?

pg 297: So, that girl that America's been freaking out about the entire book? She tripped, and Aspen caught her. I swear, there needs to be an award for how many coincidences create a plotline, and it needs to be handed directly to Kiera Cass. Like, there are so many things that happen on this novel just because of sheer coincidence. That's not how to craft a plot.

pg 313: Also, just another quick note, but isn't it just so convenient that the girls America is the most familiar with/ get mentioned the most are the ones who keep staying? Even her mortal enemy Celeste is still here, despite being completely awful. With the exception of Ashley at the beginning of the book, everyone America interacts with has stayed. Imagine that.

pg 325: Ah, the line I've heard so much about. "I'm not choosing him or you. I'm choosing me." Cliche, cringy, and overall... not the truth that she says it is. Sure, maybe she hasn't chosen either yet, but she's still making up her mind. That's not choosing herself. That's being wishy-washy.

So, that's it for my updates while reading The Selection. Here are my very brief opinions, if you haven't seen my little discussion at the end of my video: 

I think that this is the first time I will ever give 2/5 stars to a book that I really enjoyed reading. Let me clarify. This book was insanely fun to make fun of, despite the numerous problems I had with this book. That's probably incredibly evident from these updates. I thought that the writing wasn't that great, the dialogue was pretty cringey, the plot was a bit of a mess (and rather dependent on coincidence), the world-build was pretty flimsy, and that the problem with gender roles within this book was frustrating. At its root, this isn't the dystopian novel it purports itself to be-- it's a plain ol' contemporary. It's made to be fluffy and cute, and in some ways I was definitely pulled into that a bit. I enjoy fluff and cuteness in moderation, but this book was pretty much no substance and all fluff. One genuine, interesting moment would be followed immediately by more cliches, insufferable dialogue, and general cringing. So, overall, I didn't think that this was a very good book. However, I had a great time reading it and intend to continue the series, because I want to see this train-wreck keep on going.

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