Confession time: I’ve been gaga about Kiera Cass’s The Selection series since I read the first book in the summer of 2012, and since then, the arrival of a new “Princess book” (aka, my name for the next installment in the series) has been one of the biggest highlights of my years.
Now, this is a real and true confession. After all, T.S.S isn’t exactly one of the “high culture” dystopian series. While it seems to have a huge following with pre-teen and teen readers, it hasn’t quite become the grown-up pop culture phenomenon that The Hunger Games and Divergent are. In fact, sometimes I feel a little bashful about how much I love these books. Like, for instance, when I read a review of The One by a young lady who stated that she was “twelve years old” when she read the first book, and that she feels “nostalgic” because she’s now fourteen. At that moment, I was envisioning my own review. Rather than recalling visions of a glowy, pink pre-teen-hood gone by, it would bring up the image of a not-so-young adult, with exactly one year of university under her belt, trying to discreetly sign the book out on her work break at her part-time library gig without her co-workers seeing the title. Yeah. In other words, my review would have to say “I first started reading these books when I was nineteen, and now I feel nostalgic because I’m twenty-one.”
But that got me thinking. Why do I feel like my “princess book” addiction is something to hide, like cookie dough eating or potato chip bingeing? After considering possible reasons, I decided that the reason is that they are, in fact, princess books. Sure they have a dystopian sub-plot, but their real strength and appeal comes from the idea of a girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks (potentially) becoming a princess. And, as a grown woman, I guess maybe I worry a little that my addiction to a series that deals with princesses make me seem a bit, oh I don’t know, spaced out? Not in touch with reality?
This observation got me thinking again (after all, I’m majoring in children’s and young peoples’ texts and cultures. This is what I do). Why does the whole princess thing make me feel so bad? After all, what’s so bad about princesses? And hey, even though the series has its moments (like when America goes flipping back and forth between guys, and I’m gritting my teeth thinking FortheloveofMikepicksomeonealready) it’s also imaginative, original, romantic, and just fun. The writing’s good, so why the shame?
So from this point I got thinking again. I realized that maybe I should forget about why I feel bad about my addiction to these books, since shame is something that other put on you anyways (that’s conflict resolution studies talking), and is not indicative of conscientiousness. Instead, I decided that I should focus on why I love these books. And it turns out that why I love these books is the very reason I feel bad about reading them: P-R-I-N-C-E-S-S.
I guess throughout the series, the audience follows America learning about what it is to be a princess, which mirrors her journey into matured young adulthood. While she may make bad judgement calls sometimes, throughout the series America learns about loyalty, honest, but kind, communication, friendship, family ties, letting go of the past, and choosing the future that’s right for you. Even though I know the ending to the series, I won’t spoil it for anyone. However, I will say that at the end of series, America picks someone who may or may not make her an actual princess, but who inspires her to be the best version of herself. And that is a valuable lesson for girls, in that the obvious choice isn’t always the best choice. Cryptic, cryptic, I know.
The best part of the whole love story in T.S.S is that it embraces the idea that every girl wants to be a princess. I know, I know, the feminists out there hate me for writing this. But its’ true. Not necessarily a fluffy, powder-puff princess, but a princess in the sense of being cared about by someone who sees you as someone who is special to them, someone who is a little bit separate from everybody else. Most people want that, and is you ask me, most people should.
Anyway, having done my mini-analysis on the series, I can conclude that it is definitely a smart read. Hey, all in the name of research. But more importantly, these books are fun, and they made my summers from 2012-2014. I was nineteen when I read the first book and now I’m twenty-one, and that makes me nostalgic…..