This series was one of my dog walking picks. Light enough to follow while half of my attention is on the dog, but interesting enough to make the time pass a bit more quickly. The series has it's hits and misses, but it's interesting enough that I saw it through. The audio narration is also excellent, so if that's your medium of choice, I definitely recommend it.
The first novel, "The Selection," lays the groundwork for the world-building. We're in a future America, renamed Illea after some political shifts and developments explored over the course of the series. Society is organized into a strict caste system, and one of the few ways of moving castes is by marriage. America Singer, a lowly Five (out of eight castes) is chosen for the Selection, a Bachelor-like dating competition to marry Crown Prince Maxon. Like many YA novels, the love triangle is completed by America's beau from home, the Six, Aspen. Once America arrives at the castle for the Selection, she gets to know the prince she never thought she'd be interested in, and learns more about her country as rebels seek to break into the castle.
The love triangle is predictable to anyone who's read more than a couple YA novels of this type. But the world-building and rebel plot lines kept me intrigued enough to continue the series. You can't read the description of the book without knowing you're getting into a YA romance, but if you accept it for what it is, this is a fun read.
I liked the first enough to continue on to the second, "The Elite." It can hardly be considered a spoiler that America continues past the first round of the competition, seeing as "The Selection" is the first in the series, and, as I've already mentioned, the romance plotlines are extremely predictable. As I mentioned in my Goodreads review, the second novel expands on both the positive and negative aspects of the first. The romance plots are even more frustrating, with excruciating miscommunication and changes of heart that will give you whiplash. But we also learn more about the rebels, how Illea came to be, and the ways in which the history of the country has possibly been covered up.
I have my name on the wait lists for the third and fourth books in the series, and am looking forward to continuing. While waiting, I checked out "The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard." This was a colossal mistake. While I cautiously recommend the main series to general YA fans who don't mind (or even enjoy) a love triangle amid their revolutions, these side stories did nothing for me. They actually made me dislike Maxon and Aspen even more. The stories are just different pieces of the main story told from side characters' points of view. Yet their motives and thoughts were not compelling, and at times a bit infuriating. After listening,I could only think wonder why anyone would fall in love with either of these two. I turned off "The Queen" after listening to about one quarter of it.
Verdict: Jury's Out on the main series - if you're into YA dystopia, and don't mind a love triangle, this is a solid choice. It doesn't cross over well to mainstream readers, though. The short stories are dismissed - not worth it unless you're the most intense of fans who needs to know everything about the series.
The Selection series by Kiera Cass, published by HarperTeen. Audio narration by Amy Rubinate for "The Selection" and "The Elite," and by Amy Rubinate, Nick Podehl, and Tristan Morris for "The Selection Stories: The Prince & The Guard."