This contains a few spoilers, mostly on how the original The Selection Trilogy ended.
The Selection introduced us to America Singer, Prince Maxon and the country of Illea and how the heir of the Illean throne picks a bride. In a Bachelor style reality show. In the original trilogy, America battles 34 other girls for the affection of Prince Maxon, all while having feelings for boyfriend back home, Aspen. In background of all this the country of Illea is in a crisis. The people are separated into castes that leave no room for upward mobility. There are threats from within and without as unrest hits a critical mass. How is anyone supposed to fall in love under this conditions?
Well, love eventually conquers all. America wins Maxon’s heart. They are married and 20 years later it’s now their daughter, Eadlyn’s turn for the Selection. Eadlyn is the first female heir to the Illean throne, thanks for a new law her parents made before she was born and the seven minutes she was born before her twin brother Ahren. Eadlyn is very independent and takes pride as being the first woman to rule by herself. The idea of marrying is almost insulting to her. She doesn’t need a man to rule. She’s the most powerful person in the world. When the selection is brought up she is resistant. She doesn’t want to marry and aren’t they passed the the forced marriage thing? But the Illea is at another crisis. The castes have been abolished but old habits die hard. The people are having trouble letting go of old prejudices. Riots and rebellions are creeping up and King Maxon doesn’t know what to do. He thinks the Selection would be the perfect distraction for his people, while he has time to find a solution to bring his country back together. Eadlyn agrees to help her father out but she has no intention of finding a husband.
Of course things do not go as planned. The selection isn’t as big of a distraction as they hoped. Mostly becuase Eadlyn herself is not as beloved as the others in her family. She is distant, withdrawn and little spoiled. She loves her country but knows very little about her people. She doesn’t have many friends outside her brothers. She sees love as weakness. She’s a first in some many things that she’s afraid to let anyone see how truly scared and vulnerable she is and well the people are not so ready to let a teenage girl rule them. It’s a bumpy start to the selection as she tries to entertain and play her part but not get involved with any of the boys who come to win her heart. They all range from Marlee’s son, Kile, who grew up with her in the palace. Henri, an immigrant who barely speaks English and his translator, Erik, who isn’t a suitor but might as well be. There’s Hale who is charming and Ean, who is smooth and calculating. They all are good choices but I think it’s pretty obvious who Eadlyn has the most connection with.
Fans of the original trilogy will be happy to see America, Maxon, Marlee, Aspen and Lucy back but in smaller roles. I love that Eadlyn is deeply flawed. She is spoiled, scared and vulnerable. Meaning she is real. She is the first princess to ascend to the throne on her own. This comes with great responsibility and being the first she doesn’t have a role model to look too. She makes mistakes. She has lived in this bubble for so long that it being burst is terrifying to her and well, she’s panics. At times, she is unlikable but I think that is intentional on the writer’s part At times, I thought America was unbearable in the first books. It gives her a lot of room to grow and look forward to seeing her do that in the next book.