This week, we’re picking book recommendations for people who liked a certain book, and while I’m sure my choice is going to be popular, I’m doing it anyway because when I finished this book, I could have used a list like this. Don’t get me wrong — this list exists, all over the Internet, and I’m sure many more versions are going to pop up today. But the ones I found led me wrong. They suggested books I didn’t like. So I’m making my own.
[Disclaimer: I have not read this book, but I hear the plot is very similar to Hunger Games. I’ve also read interviews with Suzanne Collins where she said she didn’t know this book existed prior to her writing HG, and I believe her. Sometimes people just have similar ideas. It’s happened to me. It could happen to you. But I also think this list would be incomplete if it didn’t include the book that Hunger Games is most often compared to.]
I knew I wanted to read The Selectionby Kiera Cass the moment I saw the pretty, girly, fluffy cover. I mean seriously, how gorgeous is that? I heard it was a dystopian and would appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, but I also heard that it was solely a romance, with none of the crazy violent and suspenseful elements. And I wondered how on earth this book was appealing to fans of The Hunger Games if you took all that stuff out of the book.
Sometimes when you read nothing but dark and scary dystopians for two weeks, you need to rediscover happiness.
And let me tell you, this was just what the doctor ordered.
America Singer is talented, poor, and in love. She is a Five in the caste system of Illéa, where Ones are royalty and Eights are pretty much on par with dirt and slugs. Her family of artists and musicians struggles to scrape by, having barely enough food and not much else. Her boyfriend, Aspen, is a Six, born into the serving class, and in even more dire circumstances than America. Their relationship is forbidden by law, so it must be kept secret, but they are happy.
However, all that changes when notices go out all over the kingdom that Prince Maxon is looking for a bride, and she will be picked via the Selection. All eligible girls may apply. 35 will be picked to go to the palace and compete for Prince Maxon’s hand. The families of the girls in the competition will be well compensated for their service to the monarchy.
America doesn’t want to apply, regardless of the incentive of extra food or her mother’s persistent nagging. But when Aspen tells her that he also wants her to apply, she finally gives in, knowing the odds are heavily stacked against her.
But against all odds, she is picked to participate in the Selection. And although she is determined not to fall for Maxon, she goes to the palace to compete, knowing each week she remains in the competition is another week of food on her family’s table. And once she meets Maxon, nothing is the way she thought it would be.
This book was just fun. I really don’t understand the constant comparisons to The Hunger Games. Yes, they’re both dystopian, but The Selection is VASTLY different from The Hunger Games. America and Katniss are nothing alike, except that they’re both kind of socially awkward. There is no violence (except for a subplot involving rebels that keep attacking the castle for no reason the monarchy can understand). The families in the lower castes may go hungry, but the world doesn’t feel nearly as impoverished and depressing as the Districts of Panem. And while the losers of the Hunger Games die, the losers of the Selection go home to wed prominent businessmen and politicians.
So yeah. Not the same thing.
No, the pop culture phenomenon The Selection most closely resembles is The Bachelor. A bunch of pretty girls trying to win the hand/money (or in this case, crown) of a studly guy. There’s even camera crews and a weekly televised broadcast.
But whereas I can’t stand The Bachelor, I absolutely LOVED The Selection.
Beyond just the abundant prettiness (and there WAS abundant prettiness), this book just gave me happy fluttery feelings in my tummy. America was fun and feisty. Sometimes a bit dense, yes, but that’s when I had to remind myself (as I have to do often in YA books featuring female protagonists) that she is a teenage girl, and so it makes sense for her to be a bit dense.
Prince Maxon was sweet and charming and I’ve got to say, I know the whole point of the book was that America has two viable options in Aspen vs. Maxon, but I am Team Maxon all the way [I can’t believe I just said that]. Aspen is stoic and intense and responsible and B-O-R-I-N-G. Granted, we don’t have nearly as much time to get to know him as Maxon, and most of our perception of him is through America’s lovesick and swoony eyes, so I will try not to be too disappointed if she runs back to him in Book 2. But I sincerely hope that Maxon is the victor.
There is a brief attempt to explain how the country of Illéa came to be, although the caste systems are never explained. Maybe in Book 2? I found the explanation reasonable enough. I know there are others out there saying they didn’t buy or understand it, but in the context of the story, and especially since America is narrating in first person and she herself doesn’t fully understand it all, I thought it was fine.
And while there’s very little action or nail-biting suspense in this book (unless you consider a will-they-or-won’t-they romance nail-biting suspense), I still found myself completely enthralled in the beauty of the Palace, the developing relationship between America and Maxon, and the tentative friendships between the girls in the Selection.
The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the ending. I wanted there to be MORE. Even though I knew it was going to end without resolving a lot of things (since my friend who loaned me the book warned me of as much), I was still sad and surprised when I hit the last page and still had questions. There’s a lot of subplots (and main plots) left hanging at the end. Consider yourself warned.
I think The Selection isn’t so much for Hunger Games fans (although I am a Hunger Games fan) as it is for fans of stories like The Princess Diariesor anything by Jane Austen. Or, obviously, fans of The Bachelor. It’s a fun, sweet, and highly entertaining romance, and the future dystopian setting adds some interest and uniqueness. I enjoyed it immensely.
Content guide: Contains mentions of sex, mild amorous activity, mentions of violence.
I’m sorry. I’m not normally quite this cheesy, holding imaginary conversations with myself and all. I do actually yell “huzzah” pretty regularly, though.
Please don’t be sorry you’re following me.
Anyway, to Parajunkee and Alison, thanks so much for hosting and using your powers for good to drive traffic over here to my little blog.
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BEHOLD, THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:
What is one thing you wish you could tell your favorite author?
Oh my word. *headdesk* This isn’t fair. It’s too hard. I don’t even know who my favorite author is, much less what I’d tell them. Who came up with this question so I can glare at them menacingly?
Okay, step one is picking my favorite author, which is not so easy. Some of my favorite books are written by authors who have only written a couple books, or only one series. So how do I know if I like everything they write or just that small sampling? Some of my favorite books are written by authors who have written other books I didn’t like, so I guess that means they’re not my favorite authors. And how do I compare authors who write adult sci-fi to authors who write YA fantasy? Both are genres I love, but it’s apples and oranges.
You know what? Screw this. I’m not picking my favorite author. The question doesn’t actually say I have to reveal who my favorite author is, and in the spirit of living by the letter of the law (that’s an oxymoronic statement if there ever was one), I’m not going to. Let’s just say there is a whole slew of authors that I adore and whose brains I would pick to smithereens if I could.
(Can you pick something to smithereens? Let’s just assume that’s a thing).
They include J.K. Rowling, Lauren Oliver, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, Suzanne Collins, Myra McEntire, Michael Crichton, and probably many others that I’m forgetting. I love the stories they tell, the characters they introduce, and the worlds they create; but what’s more, I love the way they use words to accomplish this. Lots of books can be enjoyable and have good characters and an interesting story, but not all are actually written in a way that draws me into the world. I don’t always care about the characters I read about. I don’t always feel immersed in the world they live in. I don’t always put down a book wondering what happened next, even though I know the characters aren’t real.
But these authors have all created worlds and characters that I miss when I finish the book. I wonder about them. I care about them.
So to take the question literally, “what do you wish you could tell your favorite author,” there’s actually not much I’d want to tell them, besides “You’re awesome.” But that’s probably nothing they haven’t heard before.
If I can modify the question slightly to “what do you wish you could ask your favorite author(s),” I would ask them, how do they write characters and worlds in a way that makes me care? How do they get inside their characters’ heads? How do they write a world that completely absorbs my senses? (I know, that looks like 3 questions, but it’s really just one: “How do you make readers care?”)
Maybe it’s just one of those intangible gifts, where there is no technique; it just comes naturally to them. But if there is a method to their glorious madness, I would like to know what it is.
s of The Hunger Games. Here’s what you’ll find inside (please pardon the glare – a photographer, I am not):
The book is divided into sections focusing on different aspects of The Hunger Games. Many subjects are highlighted, including “Life in the Districts,” “Katniss Everdeen,” “Reaping Day,” and obviously, “The People of the Capitol.” Each section uses quotes from the book, the movie, and Suzanne Collins to bring attention to its subject matter.
The book organizes some of the more confusing aspects to the plot and politics of Panem into concise and easy-to-follow summaries.
There are also a ton of stills taken from the movie. Some are those we have seen before, and others, such as the ones above, are new images that focus on things we didn’t get a good look at in the film.
This book is not for people who want to avoid spoilers. Its intended audience has either seen the film, read the book, or both.
There’s also a handy glossary in the back, in case you needed to brush up on your Hunger Games terminology.
The World of the Hunger Games is meant to be a companion to the book and movie (the movie in particular). It does not provide any great new insight into the story. You will not learn what happened between Peeta and the girl in the woods, you will not become an expert in the history of the war between the Capitol and the Districts, and you will not discover why people in the Capitol decided it’s cool to look so garish. This is not The Silmarillion, and it’s not supposed to be.
What it does do, and does well, is explain the elements of the story simply and understandably. I think it would be especially helpful for people who saw the film but have not read the books. It explains the origins of The Hunger Games, the basics of the political system, the roles of the Districts, and gives a brief profile of all the major players.
I read a lot of comments from people who saw the movie and still couldn’t figure out why the people in the Districts wanted to watch the Games, and why they didn’t fight back. This book helps people who didn’t fully understand all the elements of the story figure out what was going on.
Even if you are a veritable font of information on all things Hunger Games, this is still a fun book to have. I feel I have a pretty solid grasp on the inner workings of Panem, but I still liked reading the summaries. It’s nice to have everything in one place, since all the background information in The Hunger Games is delivered by Katniss in bits and pieces scattered throughout the story.
Plus, the pictures are awesome. My photography doesn’t do them justice. All the main characters are featured in at least a couple of photos: Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, President Snow, Seneca Crane, Cinna, Cato, Rue. I love looking at movie stills, and these are not the same ones that have been plastered all over the Internet for months. They’re printed full-page and glossy and gorgeous.
So for what some wish it was — an in-depth guide to the Games and Panem loaded with new information — it falls short.
For what it is — a fun companion book breaking down the intricacies of Panem and The Hunger Games into an easy-to-follow, beautifully illustrated guide — it’s perfect.
It’s GIVEAWAY TIME!
As promised, to celebrate my first month in the blogosphere, I’ve decided to host my first-ever giveaway today! Hooray!
So, as much as I loved paging through The World of the Hunger Games, I know myself. I will look through it once, put it proudly on my shelf next to my boxed set of The Hunger Games, and probably never look at it again. And since I’ve already read it cover-to-cover, I’m going to give it to one lucky follower!
But wait! There’s more!
The winner will also receive this:
I’m throwing in the Paperback Movie Tie-in Edition of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! There is the same novel we all know and love, but with new cover art that matches the movie poster.
Since I’ve already reviewed The Hunger Gamesand you can see the cover art right there, I won’t write a separate review for this edition of the book. But I will point out that if you’re like me and have The Hunger Games in hardcover, this edition is smaller and lighter. Great for road trips or sticking in your purse for “emergencies.”
Add them to your Hunger Games collection, or give them to a friend who has yet to experience the Games! I think it would make an especially great prize/gift to someone who has seen the film and not read the books.
Here’s the details:
Books were provided by Scholastic for the purposes of review. I am giving them away after writing this post because, much as I love them, a girl only needs so many copies of the same book!
Giveaway will run from 12:01 a.m. on April 26 until 12:01 a.m. on May 4.
Winner will be notified by email within 48 hours of the end of the contest. Once notified, winner will have 48 hours to respond with their address before a new winner is chosen.
You must be a follower to enter, and can enter every day.
You must be at least 13 to enter.
U.S. entries only, please.
To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fine folk over at The Broke and the Bookish. They created it because they are particularly fond of lists, and I’m participating because I am particularly fond of lists. Fancy that!
So the topic for this week’s list is:
Top Ten All-Time Favorite Characters In Books
There will be some minor spoilers in here, because some of the reasons I love these characters are kind of spoiler-y.
10. Cinna (The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins) – Cinna is cool, composed, and suave. He’s a stylist, so you wouldn’t think of him as being a fighter. But he proves himself to be brave and devoted to a cause greater than himself. He fights intelligently, not with swords and fists, but with well-placed images that turn the tides of feeling in the Capitol and the Districts. He was the secret but powerful force behind the Girl on Fire.
9. Molly Weasley (First introduced in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoneby J.K. Rowling) – I would be remiss if I didn’t mention such a wonderful example of a mother. Molly Weasley is often in the background of the story, knitting horrible sweaters and fussing over her brood of red-headed children. But her fierce love and devotion for her family is never in doubt, and ultimately, she demonstrates the kind of power that comes from a mother’s love for her children. It’s nothing to be trifled with.
8. Robert Muldoon (Jurassic Parkby Michael Crichton) – This is going to be short and sweet. Muldoon is freakin’ awesome, and if they’d all have listened to him from the beginning, dinosaurs wouldn’t have wound up eating most of them. And, unlike in the movie version, Muldoon is smart enough to not get eaten himself .
7. Valentine Wiggin (Ender’s Gameand its sequels by Orson Scott Card) – In a world where children are turned into weapons by the military, Ender’s sister Valentine was rejected from the program for being too sympathetic and compassionate. But her intelligence was never the issue. Valentine’s game against her brother Peter is on a much smaller scale than Ender’s against the Formics, but she plays it well, proving what a shrewd strategist she really is. She also is Ender’s emotional center, the one member of his family who is always supportive and loving of him, no matter what he has done. She later proves her devotion to Ender when she accompanies him on his travels after the completion of the Game.
6. Jamie Fraser (The Outlanderseries by Diana Gabaldon) – If you like your romantic leading men big, burly, and Scottish, look no further than James Fraser. From the moment Claire Randall finds herself inexplicably transported from 1945 to 18th-century Scotland, Jamie is her savior, her protector, and her friend.He is innocent, funny and friendly while also being a strong warrior and leader. He’s not without his flaws, chief among them his fiery temper and fierce stubbornness. But ultimately, it’s his enduring love for Claire — a love that literally spans centuries — that makes him utterly endearing.
5. Peeta Mellark (The Hunger Gamesby Suzanne Collins) – I never really bought into the whole “Team Peeta”/”Team Gale” thing (in my opinion, Peeta’s biggest rival for Katniss’ affections was Katniss.) So my admiration for Peeta is not based on the fact that he’s just sooooooo dreamy. Peeta takes more mental and physical abuse than any other character in THG series (barring, of course, the ones who die). But his strength of character and his will to be true to himself ultimately prevail. He is gentle, kind, and full of hope in a world where all of those are in short supply; but he also demonstrates strength and power when the situation demands it. Katniss may be the focal point of THG, but in my mind, Peeta is the true victor.
4. Professor Remus Lupin (First introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanby J.K. Rowling) – As Harry’s only Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who is both qualified and competent, Professor Lupin’s teachings are instrumental in Harry’s fight against Voldemort. Additionally, in spite of Lupin’s internal struggles, he continues to be one of the main leaders of the Order of the Pheonix. He serves as mentor and protector of the Dynamic Trio, and ultimately helps Harry understand the power of sacrificial love.
3. Westley (The Princess Brideby William Goldman) –If you haven’t read The Princess Bride, go get yourself a copy and read it. Right now. The movie is great; the book is better. And however much movie Westley is the ultimate in swashbuckling romantic heroes, book Westley is even better. If you thought his survival in the Pit of Despair was impressive, wait until you see him in the Zoo of Death. “To the pain” indeed.
2. Nighteyes (Farseer Trilogy/Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb) – Nighteyes is protagonist FitzChivalry’s wolf companion for most of his journeys. Nighteyes is as you would expect a wolf to be: vicious, cunning, and fiercely loyal. But he is also surprisingly witty, refreshingly honest, and endearingly playful. Through all of Fitz’s misadventures, Nighteyes is there to ground him, support him, and be the voice of reason. In a series I loved full of characters I loved, Nighteyes was among the best. I’ve never felt so emotionally attached to an animal character, before or since.
1. The Fool (Farseer Trilogy/Liveship Traders Trilogy/Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb) – In Robin Hobb’s spectacular trilogy of trilogies, The Fool is the thread that ties them all together. He is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in a cleverly worded and slightly biting riddle. And somehow, even though you never truly understand everything about him — even after 9 books — you come to know him. Introduced as a comical background character, The Fool ultimately evolves into one of the most complex and fascinating characters I’ve ever read. But despite the vast mystery that surrounds him, it’s hard to doubt or deny his friendship and devotion with Fitz, even in the face of unimaginable hardship.
Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):
Neville Longbottom, Hermione Granger, Professor McGonagall (Harry Potter)