I'm currently reading THE ROYAL WE with the Unapologetic Romance Readers (or the "Romaniacs", as Karly calls them), and that put me in the mood for more trashy royal drama. Conveniently, I received a notification that I'm next on the waitlist for THE SELECTION, and since the prequel was available, I thought I'd read it & see what I'm getting myself into.
At its heart, THE SELECTION is an interesting and titillating idea - what happens if you get thirty-five teen girls (and their hormones) and have them compete for the affection of a prince a la The Bachelor?
It's pure wish fulfillment fantasy.
So is THE ROYAL WE. So is What a Girl Wants. So is PRINCESS DIARIES. And there's not a problem with that, really. There's a time and a place for all sorts of romance stories, even the bad ones. The problem is the execution, in my opinion. THE PRINCE could be glorious, trashy, melodramatic, and awesome...but it reads as very watered down and bland. I think part of that is the way it's being marketed; this is obviously a book for young teens. Had this been written for an older audience (new adult, or even adult), I think it would have been much better, because then it could capitalize on all the things that make reality TV so fun to watch - swearing, sex, alcohol, fighting, name-calling, and passive-aggressively mugging for the camera in between all the former.
I'm also not 100% sold on the world built around this story. It's set in the Kingdom of Illea, which I think is supposed to be a "new" version of America (based on something Maxon said about America - yes, there is a heroine named "America" in this book - and her name). There's also a country called Honduragua (a conglomerate of Honduras and Nicaragua?) and then - France. THE PRINCE gets points for at least referencing the outside world (something its fellow dystopian sisters, DIVERGENT and THE HUNGER GAMES really did not do), but that's it. Just a name drop and vague references that things have changed. But why? (And why is France still France? This is puzzling to me.)
Prince Maxon is the narrator of this short story, and I didn't find him particularly engaging, either. To his credit, he's not a jerk, he's just...kind of whiny. "What if I fall in love with all the girls?" This is something he is legitimately worried about. Oh, Maxon, please. Go sit in the corner for a while. Please. Maxon is the type of guy who really, really wants to be a nice guy. He even believes his intentions are good. But he also oozes smarm from every pore. Calling all the Selected "my dear" is just so icky. I guess when he approaches the Selection expecting to have his butt covered in kisses, it's understandably intriguing when one of the other girls tells you to go to hell, but this concept has been overdone to death, and their hate at first sight is more like mild resentment at first sight, anyway.
Also, don't be fooled by that incredibly misleading blurb. The blurb would have you believe that there's going to be catfights and proclamations of unrequited love. It's really just a very short prologue of the events leading to the first part of book one, except in Maxon's view. "The other girl" in Prince Maxon's life gets a few pages to air her misery before skiving off. I felt sorry for her, because Maxon completely blows her off without even really empathizing with her, and that was sad.
So far, my impressions with this storyline are "meh." I had some people tell me that this book was awful, and I had some people tell me that this book was amazing. It is neither. It is meh. I'm hoping that someone gets slapped in book one, or at the very least that some hair gets pulled. If I'm going to get suckered into reality TV (even if it is in book form), you had better pull out all the stops.
1.5 out of 5 stars.