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The Selection is a Young Adult dystopian romance trilogy by Kiera Cass, consisting of The Selection, The Elite, and The One. There are also four companion novellas, The Prince (told from Prince Maxon's point of view), The Guard (told from Aspen Leger's point of view), The Queen (told from Queen Amberly's point of view) and The Favourite (told from Marlee's point of view).

In the country of Illea (formerly America) your caste determines everything from your job to your quality of life, and there's little chance for moving upward. Except for The Selection: when the crown prince comes of age, thirty-five girls are picked in a random draw to compete for the chance at winning his heart becoming Illea's future queen.

For America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means leaving behind the love of her life, Aspen, and entering a strange new world where her every action is watched and judged. 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.

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In August 2014, Kiera Cass announced she would be writing two more full length books in the series, with the first focusing on Maxon and America's daughter Eadlyn and her Selection.


The books provide examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Maxon's father (Clarkson) is emotionally abusive, and his parents (Porter and Abby) were at the very least abusive to each other. Maxon's father is revealed to be physically abusive as well.
  • Action Girl: Georgia, who is part of the Northern rebels and can hold herself in a heist pretty well.
  • Adorkable: May and Gerard. She gets so excited about Maxon kissing her hand, she whispers loudly about how cute he is to her sister to the point that even Maxon can hear.
  • Aerith and Bob: Character names range from Ashley and Lucy to Gavril and Amberly.
  • After-Action Patch-Up: After Maxon gets beaten by his father, he and America have to hide underneath due to rebel attacks, he exposes his injured back to her, to which she tends to.
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  • A Day in the Limelight: Maxon, Amberly, Aspen and Marlee are all given their own novellas from their perspective.
  • A Father to His Men: Inverted. Amberly often acts like a surrogate mother figure towards the Elite.
  • All for Nothing: what the New Asia war was.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Daphne for Maxon
  • All Take and No Give: The Queen paints Clarkson and Amberly’s relationship as this. It’s easy to read Clarkson’s reasons for choosing Amberly as ‘you do what I say without question,’ while Amberly gets, and expects, nothing in return.
  • All Women Are Prudes: Illea believes in ladies maintaining their purity until marriage, and any act before is considered a crime.
  • Alpha Bitch: Celeste, until she mellows out - but only slightly.
    • Queen Abby, who physically assaults some of the girls in Clarkson's selection.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Amberly and Eadlyn, who are both mentioned to have olive toned skin. Amberly also comes from Honduraga, sounding very much like the real country, Honduras.
  • Amicable Exes: Aspen and America. Despite all the drama, in the future, they are relatively good friends, and Aspen and Maxon respect each other quite a lot.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Josie is one to Eadlyn despite them not actually being sisters. She is also one to her real sibling, Kile.
    • May is one for America, with her constant teasing about Maxon.
  • Attempted Rape: It's revealed Lucy, one of America's maids, was grabbed by a southern rebel during a massive raid on the palace. It's unclear how far he got before getting shot dead by a palace guard.
  • Arranged Marriage: A few examples. Illea’s princesses are married to princes of other nations to secure allies, and Daphne's father chooses her suitors, though she got the final say.
    • Maxon’s Selection could be seen as this. Most of the Selected were picked by Clarkson himself. America was truly one of the few chosen at random.
  • Asshole Victim: King Clarkson gets killed off, yet it's hard to feel bad for him when he's abused his son since he was a young child, in one instance making it seem like a guard started roughhousing with Maxon, getting him fired, and continuously treating his wife like shit throughout their marriage.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Anne may seem serious and business-like to Mary and Lucy, but during Lucy's panic attack she's there trying to comfort her.
    • Magda seems like she doesn't love Shalom, yet she makes a remark about how even though she wasn't in the previous Selection, she was lucky enough to find him.
  • Babies Ever After:
    • Maxon and America have four in the upcoming books, twins Eadlyn and Ahren and sons Kaden and Osten. Eadlyn is the elder of the twins by seven minutes - which means she's the heir to the throne.
    • A bonus epilogue in The Crown reveals Eadlyn and Eikko (Erik) have a daughter and another child on the way.
  • The Bet: Maxon tells America if May doesn't cry from eating the pastries, they will go on a garden walk together.
  • Berserk Button: Marlee is one for America. After her caning, Celeste calls her a whore, to which America loses it, giving her one hell of a slap, even going to the point of smashing a saucer against her head.
    • America is one for Maxon. It's implied Janelle was kicked out for badmouthing America.
  • Badass in Distress: America isn't the strongest, yet she's the most determined and resourceful and was able to outrun a group of rebels. However, she finds herself in many situations where she has to be saved.
  • Bitch Alert: Celeste arrives trying to scare the other girls, and during the limo drive flat out implies that she thinks Marlee slept with some people in order for them to adore her.
  • Black Sheep: America's brother Gerad isn't artistic. Too bad he's a Five, so it's the only career path he can take.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Marlee and Natalie, Kriss and Celeste, America.
  • Break the Cutie: Marlee, who is caught having an affair with Carter, has to be caned and possibly live in the streets for the rest of her life.
    • Lucy having a panic attack during a rebel invasion. Up until now, she was just the kind, sweet maid.
    • May having to see two people get caned on their hands and back. To top it off, Celeste's parents make classist remarks towards her and her family.
  • Broken Ace: Maxon is handsome and charming, yet has to deal with a verbally abusive father who constantly undermines him and fears he cannot do anything perfectly.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Elise, but to a nonviolent extent. The reason she's still in The Elite when Maxon shows no interest (and shows more annoyance) towards her is because of her ties to New Asia, a country that King Clarkson wants to keep a hold on.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: Played with. Maxon is capable of talking with girls, he just doesn't know what to say when they cry.
  • Chekhov's Gun: King Clarkson rigging the Selection, as early on the applications ask for the contestant's language skills. If it truly were a lottery, these things wouldn't need to be known.
  • Color Motif: While unintentional, since America was named after the former fallen nation, her appearance seems reminiscent of the US' flag: she has red hair and wears mostly blue in the first part of The Selection.
  • Cool Uncle: Inverted. May becomes one for Eadlyn.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Aspen gets paired with Lucy, and the other girls of the Elite, except for Natalie, get married as well.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: America starts acting very jealous when Maxon starts spending time with Kriss
  • The Cynic: Clarkson. He has a very negative outlook on life, and seems to pity Amberly when she tries to encourage him to become better, saying how it's "adorable" she thinks that's all it takes.
  • Daddy's Girl: America. She's shown to talk about her feelings mostly with him, and even tearfully hugs him when she leaves.
    • Eadlyn as well. She's incredibly close with her father, as they talk business and political affairs, and she specifically tells Aspen to make sure her father eats.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Eadlyn starts becoming more compassionate and amiable throughout her Selection.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Maxon is a male example, continuously seeing America although his father hates her.
  • Darker and Edgier: What the TV series wanted to be. The pilot aged everyone up and gave it a more "adult" tone, made Maxon into a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Illea a more obviously oppressive nation, and added a subplot about Celeste's family wanting to usurp the monarchy.
  • Dumb Blonde: Natalie, who suggests that to solve the country's rebel problem, they could ban the rebels.
  • Everyone Can See It: No matter how many times America says that she's just Maxon's friend to help with relationship advice, everyone can see how much Maxon likes her, and how much she likes him as well.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Marlee is a fan favorite amongst the people to win the Selection. That quickly changes after she's revealed to be having an affair with Carter (one of the guards).
  • Everything Is Better With Princesses: Dystopia - with princesses! Also, when America is thinking of marrying Maxon, she always refers to herself as "becoming a princess" rather than a queen.
    • In-universe the Selection is regarded this way.
    • In-universe, Princess Camille is so beloved by her people that once there was spontaneous party in her honor that lasted for three days. It's notably averted by Eadlyn, who is not very popular with the people.
    • Josie very much believes this.
  • Expy: Aspen is basically Gale and Gavril Fadaye is Caesar Flickerman.
  • Extreme Doormat: Elise, to a lesser extent. While she doesn't let anyone trample all over her, and even has her own take on Marlee's situation, Maxon tells America that she concedes his every opinion, to his annoyance.
  • Fantastic Caste System: In Illea your entire life is determined by which caste you're born into. Women automatically assume their husband's caste upon marriage, much like how traditional surnames work. It's possible to move up through marriage, being drafted into the army (automatic Two), and the Selection (Three when drawn from the lottery, Two if you make it to the Elite, One if you win), but these are all rare.
    • One - royalty or equal to it.
    • Two - celebrities, socialites, professional athletes.
    • Three - Unknown, presumably intellectuals and the educated, such as teachers, professors and doctors.
    • Four - shopkeepers and business owners.
    • Five - artists, craftsmen and musicians.
    • Six - indoor workers and domestic servants.
    • Seven - outdoor workers, manual laborers.
    • Eight - the homeless and those who have committed serious crimes, also those born out of wedlock to mixed castes.
  • Foreshadowing: Marlee's secret love affair with Carter. We're treated to moments such as her standing in the burning sun, unknown to the reader that it's because Carter is near.
  • Fire and Ice Love Triangle: Maxon, the sophisticated and soft-hearted prince to Aspen, the independent and resilient Six.
    • Kriss and America. While Kriss is the daughter of a professor and is more even-tempered and conservative, America is from a family of artists and is hot-tempered and more liberal.
  • First Girl Wins: America met Maxon first, and she married him.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The final four again. Celeste (Choleric/Melancholic), America (Sanguine/Choleric), Kriss (Sanguine/Phlegmatic) and Elise (Phlegmatic/Melancholic).
  • Freudian Excuse: As we see in The Queen, Clarkson's abusive home life has shaped who he is. It might explain why he's so controlling over many things (i.e., Maxon's work) because he never had control in his palace when he was younger. It also shows why he's so against America. He saw no order in his life, and he finally instills it in his palace. Then a fiery and reckless girl comes along with no sense of order, and he thinks she'll just put the palace back to where it was before. He admits to Amberly that the reason he wants to become king is because of the "order and that my word is definitely".
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Celeste.
  • Foil: Camille and Eadlyn. Both are future queens of their country, but while Camille is sweet and kind and beloved by her people, Eadlyn is cold and snobbish and is very much disliked throughout Illea.
    • America and Celeste. While both girls are determined and not afraid to say what's on their mind, America is from a lower caste and treats most people, especially her maids, with respect, while Celeste is from a rich family and tries to intimidate the other girls and treats her maids like trash.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Gregory Illea created the country named after him after the Fourth World War.
  • Gold Digger: Many of the Selection girls seem to care more about Maxon's status as a prince rather than the man himself.
  • Happily Ever After: America and Maxon marry and have four kids, Marlee and Carter get to live in the castle with her best friend and have two children. In the sequel books Eadlyn and Eikko marry and in a bonus epilogue have a daughter with a second child on the way.
  • Happily Married: America's older sister Kenna and her husband James, and later Marlee and Carter, America and Maxon, Eadlyn and Erik, Kaden and Josie.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Marlee and Lucy.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Maxon takes a liking to America, the only redhead in The Selection. He eventually chooses her as his bride.
  • Heroic BSoD: America after Marlee's caning. She starts questioning whether she wants to be queen or not, pushes her maids away, and sobs into her bed all day.
  • Hidden Depths: Kriss is a member of the Northern rebels - and so was America's father.
    • Anne, one of America's maids. She's bitter towards Lucy's idealistic dreams because she wants them- a happy marriage, a happy family- but is very bitter because she has no hope of achieving them. She's a servant, and she feels stuck in her position.
  • Hypocrite: America gets upset when Maxon sees Kriss or Celeste, but she’s been seeing Aspen behind his back whenever things get too difficult for her.
  • Identical Grandson: Well, granddaughter. It’s explained early on that Eadlyn has a strong resemblance to Amberly.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Maxon and America don't care about castes, just for finding the person who truly values them.
  • Ill Girl: Queen Amberly, who is discovered to have unknowingly ingested so many toxins while growing up in her home province that she has been rendered almost sterile and left with debilitating headaches and other physical ailments that she suffers from for the rest of her life.
  • Informed Poverty: The Singer’s financial situation comes off as this. The most we’re treated to in the present is that they don’t have enough for seconds, but other than that they’re shown to be well off enough to afford chicken and tea, even popcorn. They’re supposed to be struggling artist, but the only time the reader sees this is in second-hand stories told by America. After she's been selected and her family gets compensation.
  • It's All My Fault: How America feels towards Marlee's situation. She felt that she wasn't there for her friend, and that if she were, perhaps Marlee would've been spared from her terrible fate.
  • Jerk Ass: America's brother Kota and King Clarkson. Also Celeste, at first, trying to sabotage the other contestants and making snide remarks at the lower castes.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: While King Clarkson is a philandering husband and abusive father, he may not have been too in the wrong when it comes to America being queen. When her task is too hard, she simply puts it aside instead of working through it. She reveals Illea's diary, even though Maxon told her to keep it secret, and did it without thinking much about the repercussions. The King is a total douchebag, but if America acts this hotheaded, impulsive, and dismissive, it's no wonder he doesn't see her fit to be queen.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Celeste, after her Character Development in The One.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Both Maxon and his mother make them to protect America and the King respectively. Maxon lives. His mother doesn't.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Maxon's attitude towards Marlee and Carter's caning. The only other option was death.
  • In Memoriam: In-Universe. America named the ladies room the Newsome Library after Celeste.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Celeste warns Maxon that if he hurts America, she'll make him cry.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Henri does it for both Eadlyn and Eikko/Erik in The Crown. He loves Eadlyn and is best friends with Eikko and steps aside for the two to be together.
  • Lady in Red: The other contestants and their stylists notice that America, who is quickly becoming Maxon's favorite, has a preference for blue, and so they all request a blue dress for a television broadcast. America's maids notice this and create a crimson red dress for her instead, making her stand out. Said dress can be seen on the cover of The Elite.
    • Queen Amberly was also known for favoring red dresses during her selection, although she goes for a darker, more wine-like shade.
  • Love at First Sight: The Prince strongly implies this was the case for Maxon towards America.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The Selection alone has 35 contestants in it.
  • Meaningful Name:
  • Morality Pet: Amberly to Clarkson. While he can be controlling in their relationship, he's shown to put a protective arm around her when rebels are invading, and Gavril points out that while he never really liked Clarkson, he says he's never seen someone care so much about someone as he has seen Clarkson do for her.
  • Nice Girl: Amberly, sweet girl. Even when her future mother-in-law is abrasive to the Selection girls, pulls a contestant out by the hair, and even slaps Amberly, Amberly never once thought bad about her, even expressing a little bit of sympathy for her stressful situation. After she's slapped, the first thing she does is ask if her friend is okay. She goes out of her way to comfort America after Marlee's caning, almost acting like a mother figure to her.
    • Marlee, who is quick to befriend the other girls in the Selection and is super sweet to everyone.
  • Nice Guy: Maxon. When he's pressured by his father to make an early elimination, he does this in a very awkward way, ending it in more of a question. He apologizes profusely, and when the girls ask him if it's because of their appearance, he states in a confused manner he never even noticed.
    • Henri, who acts polite and pleasant towards Eadlyn, and even helps her when people are throwing vegetables at her.
  • Nice to the Waiter: America is kind to her maids, Anne, Lucy and Mary, because she comes from a low caste herself and understands what it's like. Most notably, when there is a rebel raid on the palace she insists they come with her to the safe room that's supposed to be reserved for royalty, Selection girls, and high ranking officials - then tells their superior where to shove it when the woman demands they start serving drinks.
    • Eadlyn is very kind to servants and treats her maid Neena very well. It's an early sign that despite some of Eadlyn's more snobbish qualities she is in fact a good person.
  • No Sex Allowed: Sex before marriage is a serious enough crime to put you in prison. And since there's no birth control for the lower castes, most people marry young.
  • Not Like Other Girls: America is particularly bad about this in the early stages of the Selection, thinking she's the only girl who doesn't want to be there, she's not "over-the-top" like all the others — even thinking she might be the only candidate who had to be warned not to turn the prince down, because all the others aren't just interested in dating him, but happy to make themselves sexually available any time he asks. And apparently America is the only one out of thirty-four other girls who did not want her looks changed.
  • Not So Above It All: America initially says she isn't going to go the extra lengths for Maxon's affection or be jealous of him, yet come The Elite and The One and she tries to wear a revealing red dress to try to seduce Maxon, and gets jealous over Celeste dancing with him and Kriss spending time with him.
  • Only Sane Man: Avery. Although he's a very minor character, he seems to be the only chill person in the palace.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Amberly and Shalom. Amberly promises she'll try to see his wife from his perspective, and Shalom just wants America to marry a man she loves.
  • Oblivious To Beauty: America thinks she's plain and mousy, yet her mother tells her about how boys keep trying to ask her out, and Maxon seems to be awestruck by her the first time he sees her.
  • Papa Wolf: Maxon. When it turns out that Eadlyn was almost sexually assaulted, he is in a big rage, and says he doesn't care if the man is unconscious, just that he gets out of the palace. He gets even more mad when she almost gets injured in a fight between two guys, making Maxon so furious he even scares Eadlyn.
    • Shalom as well. After the public caning, he pleads and yells about seeing America, and is thoroughly disgusted with the fact that they let May watch two people get caned.
  • Prince Charming: Maxon is a more realistic version of this. While he is charming and beloved, he struggles with pleasing his father, often never feeling good enough and feels like everyone is trying to control his life.
  • Princess Classic: Ashley, who is shown and regarded as acting almost like a princess, despite not being royalty.
  • Proper Lady: Ashley, Amberly, and Celeste.
  • The Determinator: America, big time. Despite all odds, she still runs for Marlee, despite the fact that she could never get past two guards. She still screams how sorry she is to Marlee, even though the crowd is so loud and her friend is screaming.
  • The Reveal: King Clarkson lied about the war in New Asia, leading thousands of people to die for nothing.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Anne, Mary, and Lucy.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • During the climax of the One America is locked in a saferoom with only a pistol should the worse happen. She tries to shoot the door open and… it doesn’t work.
    • Abolishing the caste system is not going to make everything okay overnight. During Eadlyn’s Selection there have been people who still throw around their old numbers.
    • Being cold and aloof is not going to make you popular. The people hate Eadlyn for this very reason.
    • When Marlee is caned, it's made clear that she may never use her hands, and that Carter may never walk again.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Played with. Although wearing feminine clothing isn't demonized, the book seems to have a deep disdain for the girls who go the extra mile with their dresses and jewelry, and even America pokes fun of the girls wearing makeup.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Maxon and Aspen.
    • The contestants in The Selection are this too. America herself is a poor suitor to Maxon, especially compared to rich contestants like Celeste.
  • Rich Bitch: Celeste.
    • She gets better in The One, where she admits that she's worried about the fact that she only really has her looks to rely on, and she knows she'll eventually lose them and fade into the background. After bonding with America, she apologizes to the other girls, and although Elise has a moment where it looks like she'll ruin Celeste, they all forgive her and become friends.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Celeste in particular. She may be living the lap of luxury, but she's competitive to a toxic extent and doesn't hold back her biting commentary, even in the most inappropriate times. She gets better throughout though.
    • King Clarkson as well, one of the worst examples. See the Woobie entry on YMMV.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Aspen, who ends up with Lucy. Also Kriss ends up with a man named Elliot Pierra.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The royal family is consistently shown actively running the country. Maxon - on the advice of America - even diverts some of the money from the Selection to start a food program for the lower castes.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Aspen was told to send out letters to families saying they were knocked down a caste for not reporting suspicious behavior, however he goes against this and burns them.
    • Marlee and Carter were supposed to be killed, but Maxon convinces his father not to take this action, and even hides them in the palace and gives them work in the kitchen.
    • America takes her maids into the special room during a rebel attack. She insists that she won't go in if they don't.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Maxon, initially. He gets better, mainly thanks to America.
    • Elise and Kriss. Both grew up financially affluent, and are pretty ignorant to the thought of Marlee having to live in the streets, saying it's better than dying.
    • Eadlyn in the sequels. She too gets better.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: America and Eadlyn, who just want to find a good guy for them.
  • Ship Tease: The Crown hints at Kaden/Josie, meaning she might become a princess after all. They get married several years down the road in a special bonus epilogue in The Crown.
  • Show, Don't Tell: The books tell us that things can, and have gotten bad for the Singers due to money issues. But whenever we see them they're doing just fine, well enough to afford chicken with spices, tea and popcorn, and America to binge on sweets when she has her own paycheck... which comes from half the family's pay per job. And even before they were apparently well off enough that America can sneak her leftovers to Aspen. This is before America is chosen for the Selection and her family gets compensation.
    • We're constantly told how Eadlyn is stressed over doing her work as the successor to the throne, yet we're never shown her actually doing it, just complaining about it.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Maxon. He's grown up in a luxurious palace with servants everywhere, yet he's kind to America even though she yells and insults him, and is genuinely shocked that the lower castes go hungry very often.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Aspen.
  • The Alcoholic: Adele.
  • The Wise Prince: Maxon.
  • True Blue Femininity: America in the first book. She commonly wears blue dresses throughout.
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Daphne for Maxon, and Aspen for America.
    • Kile and Eadlyn. Subverted in that they had no interest as children and later neither is that upset that it didn't work out.
  • Unwanted Harem: A majority of girls in The Selection.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: America revealing the existence of the diaries. It doesn't matter whether she did or didn't know that King Clarkson was abusive; Maxon specifically told her to keep it a secret. Didn't she think there was a reason?
    • Eadlyn with most of her contestants. Insulting them to their faces all because she's salty over having the Selection, being a jerk to Josie for the dumbest reasons, and being condescending to one contestant because "I'm supposed to approach you". She even tries to break up Ahren and Camille, all due to her possessiveness over her twin.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Not so much an "epilogue," but the Happily Ever After collection features brief summaries of the lives of each member of the Elites (sans Celeste) lead after the Selection.
    • Natalie tries to put her family back together after her sister's death and runs a jewelry business.
    • Kriss returns home and meets her eventual husband, Elliot,
    • Elise becomes an ambassador and marries, having two sons later on
  • Will They or Won't They?: Maxon and America. They do.
  • World War III: There's been a Fourth World War.
  • World War Whatever: At least four World Wars happened in the Selection universe, and Illéa was founded after the fourth.

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