Can you be strong, independent, not compromise and be in love? I would like to think so, but the final book in Kiera Cass’s The Selection Series, The One, casts some doubts.
I liked the character of America in the first two books, her dogged determination to be herself and not play the game that is the Selection. After all, what would be the appeal of a pony show like the Selection for an intelligent musical prodigy with a sense of justice? Just the fact that she would transfer her affections from strong and deserving Aspen to shelter rich kid Maxon in the second book already annoyed me, and that streak ran in deeper in The One. After all, what’s so great about Maxon? He certainly seems good at standing by while his father both verbally and physically abuses her. What would someone like America possibly see in that weakling compared to Aspen who was born a Level 8 caste, but took on the responsibility of supporting his family even while he starved? Aspen who was strong enough to break up with America prodding her into taking part in the Selection so that she could raise her caste and have a better life is by far the better man in general and the best ‘selection’ for America. I haven’t experienced this kind of mismatch since Laurie married Jo’s spoiled sister Amy in Little Women!
Maxon exhibits the worst traits of shows like The Bachelor, the guy who strings all the ladies along because he can. We find out in this book which of the ladies, and there are many, he has been kissing and ‘dating.’ America deserves better than this playboy. Yes, Kiera Cass tries to make him out to be the poor little rich boy by reminding us that his father has beaten him and that he has lived a sheltered life, blah, blah, blah. So what? Aspen has endured far worse and remained strong and true to America until she dumped him in favor of Maxon.
America is guilty of the foolish myth that women have that their love will change a man for the better, so of course Kiera Cass weaves in that idea in the form that until America came along, Maxon didn’t realize how wrong the caste system was and that now that America has opened his eyes he will take action. Yeah, only once Daddy dearest is dead and there is no opposition, real hero. Ms. Cass even includes some love letters from Maxon to America in this story which are a prime example of why the word drivel was invented.
Do I sound angry? One of the things I have been loving about dystopian and apocalyptic novels these days is the plethora of really strong female characters, and my recent post touched on that. So this dystopian novel feels like a slap in the face and sets a bad example for young girls who might be influenced by this book. I thought we were finally growing away from the idea that the ultimate was to be a princess rescued by a prince who would make sure we lived happily ever after and toward the notion that instead we have the power to save the kingdom and create our own destiny.