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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Selection by Kiera Cass summary

     The Selection begins with our protagonist America at home with her family; her younger sister, May, younger brother, Gerad, her mother and father, and her friend Aspen and his family, although we find out soon into the book that he is much more than a friend.
     America and Aspen have been seeing each other in secret, meeting at a tree house near both of their homes after the nightly curfew for the towns of midnight. America has never told her family due to the fact that he is a lower caste than her and marrying into a lower caste isn't forbidden but is frowned upon in this society.
     The caste numbers are 1-8, with one being the royal family, two's being military and others in powerful positions, threes being the wealthy but not as influential, and the others are workers who are in poverty but getting by, the 6-8 castes being the poorest with the 8's mostly being homeless and begging.  America's family are 5's, so they are expected to have jobs in the arts and they make enough money to scrape by but are usually hungry, with having to sometimes make a choice between electricity or more food or other necessities.
      When news is announced that a Selection is happening, America meets Aspen at the tree house to tell him about her mom pressuring her to enter her name. Instead of saying he doesn't want her to, he begs her to enter because he already feels like he will never be able to provide for her and knowing that he never gave her a chance at a better life would haunt him. America reluctantly agrees, knowing that out of all the thousands of girls entering it's a very minute chance she would ever be selected and she wants to appease her mother and ease Aspens mind.
      Before going any farther, I need to explain the Selection. When a prince comes of age to marry, instead of marrying others in a royal bloodline, a Selection is held amongst the common citizens, castes 2-8. Any girls of marryable age are allowed to enter and 35 girls are chosen at random to go to the palace and stay to compete for the princes affection and become the next queen.  The Selection was established when Illea was established as a country to help out with relations between the Commonwealth and the higher royal caste, since the country had always been run as a democracy prior to this and people were rebelling.
      Illea came to be after the 4th world war. We find that the 3rd world War came when the US owed a lot of money to China and when they couldn't repay their debt, China invaded and established the US as their own territory calling it the American State of China.  The Chinese began to rule the country, but in an unfair way that treated the citizens more like slaves than residents.
     When other countries saw this, they began forming alliances as well, fearing China would try to take over more countries since they were becoming more powerful.   Russia began preparing for an invasion to the American State of China to take it away from the Chinese, the beginning of the 4th world war, but the citizens banded together and fought back, knowing Russia had their sights set on more than just the former US.
     It was much easier to fight since China was fighting Russia for the country too and the numbers were stronger with both the former US and China fighting together. General Illea was the leader behind president Wallis at this time and came to be hailed as a hero, for with this strategy, the US prevented Russia's invasion, and gained their country back due to the peace treaty established with China saying they would help them fight if they could have their freedom and country again.
     Illeas family married into another royal family and he became king and a monarchy was established to save the country under his leadership, since Wallis would have failed without him. The majority of the people approved, but there were rebels who denied the caste system and still to this day there are attacks on the palace from rebel groups.
    America is picked for the Selection after all, and goes to have a last meal with Aspen, having spent some of the money she's earned though playing violin at parties to buy all the food for them. Rather than being happy about it, it further shows Aspen that he can't provide for her and he breaks up with her and tells her she should find someone better than him. She leaves for the Selection and the palace angry and heartbroken.
     Upon arriving at the palace, during bedtime America becomes homesick and wants some fresh air because she feels like she will faint, but the guards won't let her into the garden, stating it's not safe for her to go out due to the constant threat of rebel attacks.  Maxon, the prince, comes along and tells them to let her go if she wants and he follows her outside.
      He tries to console her but she is so heartbroken she doesn't want to hear it and proceeds to tell him he doesn't know anything about her and to leave her alone, in no uncertain terms. He tells her if it will make her feel more at home he will let the guards know that she can come to the garden whenever she likes, but she tells him she doesn't want anything from him and is only here for as long as she can be to gain the money that comes along with being a guest of the Selection for her family.
      The next day after having time to think she feels bad for being mean to Maxon when he was just being nice and apologizes to him, and tells him that since he already knows her intentions, he could keep her as a friend and confidante about the other girls since she will be spending so much time with them, and it would still allow her family to be paid for a while and they wouldn't be devastated that she'd be sent home so soon. He agrees.
       As time progresses though, she begins to have feelings for Maxon upon seeing that he is very kind and gentle, and he does for her also. As their relationship progresses and she becomes a commoners favorite and the prince's, she begins to make enemies amongst the other girls, including the very mean spirited Celeste, who is a 2 and will do whatever it takes to win the crown.  She also makes friends though, and becomes very close with another girl, a four, named Marlee. She senses Marlee is hiding something though, but doesn't push her to reveal it.
      America becomes very close friends with her 3 handmaidens assigned to her; Anne, Mary, and Lucy, and they tell her they are rooting for her to win and it's obvious that she will since the prince spends the most time with her.
    She and Maxon end up having a very serious discussion where he reveals his feelings toward her, and she in turn tells him about the love she lost back home, and that although she has feelings for him, she can't commit yet until she sorts it out in her head.
    When he realizes she sends the handmaidens away at night, he tells her he wants to have a guard placed outside her room at least, and although she tries to decline he won't allow her to, and the guard turns out to be no other than Aspen, who was drafted for the war and was sent to the palace to decrease the more and more frequent rebel attacks.
      On one of her dates with Maxon, he tells her she could never ask him a question that he couldn't answer, so she puts him to the test upon remembering seeing an old history book her father had that talked about holidays that used to exist in the old world, including Halloween.
     She asks him what Halloween is, and he takes her to a secret room that no one in the castle knows about other than he and his immediate family, and shows her the huge walls of books in it from before the 3rd world war. He reveals Halloween to her, and shows her an entry in a journal about a family preparing for a Halloween celebration, and it turns out to be Gregory Illeas journal, who was the first king of Illea when it was established with the caste system.  He lets America keep it to read about the other former holidays but tells her to promise to keep it safe and unseen.
      A large rebel attack that takes some of the palace guards lives happens, and during a dinner Maxon announces that due to the increasing attacks he has been advised to carry out the Selection differently than normal, and that it will be narrowed down from the current group to the Elite, which is usually 10, but they have decided to narrow it to only 6 for the girls safety.  There is no point in keeping them there when the attacks are happening and they could be killed at any moment for no reason, since the prince has narrowed his choices down to the Elite at this time anyways. The remaining 6 are Celeste, Kriss,Marlee, Natalie, Elise, and America.
      Her feelings become more and more incredibly torn as she spends more time with both the prince and has late night secret meetings with Aspen, who has revealed he could never live without her and he will fight for her with every fiber of his being. She tells him that he can't expect her to just go back to the way thing were, considering that he is the one who abandoned her, and she tells him how she's gotten really confused since Maxon came along.  He tells her he will still fight to prove his love, and not only that, he will wait for her until she makes her decision because although he loves her, and he wants her to be happy and never regret her choice.

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