From the publisher:
Love is a risk worth taking.
Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.
Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude…until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. And though she can’t talk to him, they soon forge a connection neither of them can deny…and Kahlen doesn’t want to.
Falling in love with a human breaks all the Ocean’s rules, and if the Ocean discovers Kahlen’s feelings, she’ll be forced to leave Akinli for good. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
In her latest novel, HarperTeen author Kiera Cass delves beyond her usual gowns, crowns and handsome royalty to bring you an exciting new twist on your favourite aquatic creatures. The Siren features a band of girls from various epochs serving their sentences as sirens under the care of the bloodthirsty Ocean. Indeed– this isn’t just any 99-year-old woman meets surfer dude kind of story. Regrettably, through Cass’s own personal authorial charm, its characters become harbingers of death not only to all imprudent mariners but also to anyone foolish enough to read their novel.
Let us begin, therefore, with afore-mentioned centenarian: our protagonist. A hopeless romantic of wishy-washy character, Kahlen’s principal ambition in life is marriage. She has no burning passion for philanthropy or other such altruistic causes, no profound desire to achieve self-actualization, no fervent yearning to engage in any remote kind of vocation. She has no yearning at all, actually, save for tying the knot and pledging to devote the remainder of her years to that time-honoured tradition of holy matrimony. That is all. Now, when Henry David Thoreau advised us to Go Confidently in the Direction of our Dreams, I don’t believe that grand illusions of housewifery were quite the strain of aspirations that seized him, but then again we’ll never know. Perhaps he intended for all of his adherents to be rescued by their own respective prince charmings.
You may be wondering, then, exactly who the lucky guy is to be so deserving of her perpetual adulation. The truth abides, however, that Kahlen has no such significant other in mind at the outset of The Siren. No, instead she pins the full extant of her hopes and dreams on a man whom she has never met. And that, ladies and gentleman, is taught helplessness: depending on a total stranger for your eventual happiness. And here– here exactly– in stripping her female lead of any self-sufficiency, any at all– is how Kiera Cass effectively voids any semblance of girl power excited by the notion of a powerful female myth.
Fortunately for Kahlen, her painful lonesomeness is short-lived. Entering stage right and kick-starting our story’s action is Akinli, the new and improved take on the classic boy next door. Ever the trooper, Kahlen refuses to be intimidated or deterred by the constraints of her verbal communication, and lets this poor sucker get about three sentences in edgewise before the lovesick infatuation sets in. Nevertheless, the young couple is only able to engage in one episode of cake-baking before being tragically separated through their own fallacy.
Needless to say, their connection was so heartfelt and tender that the very thought of never setting eyes on Akinli again sends Kahlen into a lasting depression. To me, this is not only dubious (sorry, Kahlen, but spending three hours with someone does in no way appoint him as your eternal lover– no, not even if he has shaggy blond hair and a violently outlandish first name) but also absolutely and grievously appalling. For that is the only true tragedy here: that a girl should throw away her very joie de vivre for such a fleeting moment.
For that’s all Akinli should have been: a passing fling. The first male entity with whom Kahlen has had contact in roughly a century should in no way have been her one true love. Because honestly, if nailing down a guy with whom to bake a cake is all you need to fall head over heels, I don’t see why more of us aren’t abducting dashing young men in aprons and stockpiling on Pillsbury.
In other words, as any good siren should know, there are other fish in the sea.
Unfortunately for us, Cass misses her mark on nearly every other level of the novel as well. Her female supporting cast is recalcitrant and contrary, each character a one-dimensional variant of the other. The company includes our token harlot, creative soul, and brooding rebel. Furthermore, I’m not sure if the young East Indian girl introduced later on was meant to be progressive or theatrical, but either way she comes off as a caricature of her culture. Where Cass could have expounded on the theme of female friendship– which one would think might be implied given the presence of a siren sisterhood– she chose to isolate her protagonist from her comrades in what I can only assume is an effort to make her more misunderstood and special.
The plot is no better. To put things simply, it revolves around dramatic lovelorn lamentations, a deus ex machina of a grand finale, and perhaps one appealing moment involving a notable Kafka short story. Sadly, even this Bohemian gem is not enough to redeem the plot as a whole from its own total vapidity.
Although the sap award does in fact go to me for never being able to resist a seaside story in the summertime, Cass comes in a close second and owns every last inch of it. Hopelessly insipid and painfully romantic, The Siren reads like a bad Barbie movie– minus the Girls Can Do Anything tagline and the talking cats. 0.4/5 stars.
I’ll keep you posted,
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself- and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
I picked up The Selection largely because I’m spending the week on the beach and wanted a book with a yummy cover to delve into. True to its nature, The Selection was a great beach read—although that may be because it was so awful that I couldn’t find any depth to associate to it, and so considered it to be light and fluffy.
Firstly, its premise is stupid and a bit sick. 35 girls competing for a prince and a crown in the goal to create some sort of entertainment for the people? Honestly? That’s why we have The Bachelor. And let me tell you, I am not the biggest fan of that show.
The fact that The Selection was sold as a Hunger Games hybrid only annoys me further; this book is nothing like The Hunger Games—unless, of course, you count that rip off of Claudius Templesmith. Sure, the girls tried to get each other eliminated, but in reality this book contained as much real drama as spilled milk. Which is, despite what people would have you believe, slim to none.
Cass’s world building was a bit far-fetched, to say the least. About halfway through the novel, we are given the explanation as to why her dystopian society exists in the way that it does. Needless to say, this explanation is contains a series of events that are completely implausible and hard to picture. The caste system, although a great dystopian concept and reflection on our society, is also horribly under-described. I love the idea of Illéa, with its provinces, palace, and rules, but ideas are, unfortunately, completely useless unless they’re well developed.
America Singer (who just happens to be a singer. How coincidental.) is certainly not the best developed heroine whom I’ve encountered. She’s supposed to be feisty and individualistic, and I can almost see that; she yells at Prince Maxon about the Selection’s sick nature, and refuses to wear big jewelry. However, she’s just so whiny all the time, and this just kills any other qualities. I mean, what kind of girl complains about being pretty? Come on!
“Please don’t call me gorgeous. First my mom, then May, now you. It’s getting on my nerves.” By the way Aspen was looking at me, I could tell I wasn’t helping my “I’m not pretty” case.
Aspen and Maxon are other excellent examples of poor characterization. Although Aspen claims to love America, he willingly risks her life so many this affirmation becomes questionable. And Maxon keeps telling America just how much he likes her, despite her rejection of him on more than one occasion. I find his insistence on this vulnerability very hard to believe given the fact that Maxon has never interacted with women his age before.
And as for the ending—no. Just no. You do not end a book in the way Kiera Cass ended this book. No. Let me ask you, what is The Selection about? Oh, right. It’s about a selection. And what do people do with selections? They select things. They do not narrow their options down to a few and leave the book at that. Cass could have easily added a hundred or so pages to the 327 existing ones and actually completed her plotline.
Although they didn’t affect my review in any way, the completely unprofessional actions stemming from Kiera Cass and her agent only add to my distaste for this novel. We get it, criticism is harsh—especially when it’s true. But that doesn’t give you any right as an author or an agent to ask all of your friends to like the more favourable reviews of your books on Goodreads, nor does it allow you to call your honest reviewers names (which are best left unsaid). No. You sit there, you keep your mouth shut, and you take it like a professional.
The Selection merits 2.8/5 stars. For fans of princesses, cliffhangers, and awful reality TV shows.
I’ll keep you posted,