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review 2017-06-17 17:58
Great characters lashed to a formulaic plot
Selection Day: A Novel - Aravind Adiga

I added this book to my "to-read" list after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. There was a lot about the description of the book that intrigued me, but perhaps what was most interesting was the idea of reading a story with a familiar premise (father drives his sons to succeed in sport) in the unfamiliar setting of modern-day India.


And this is exactly what Aravind Adiga delivers. It's the story of two teenage boys, Radha and Manju Kumar, who have been moved to Mumbai by their father Mohan in the hope that he can use their skills as cricket to escape from their family's poverty. Adiga's story centers on Manju, the younger of the two, who idolizes his older brother and dreams of becoming a forensic scientist. Together they share a loathing at the controlling lifestyle that their father imposes upon both of them and the hope of escape, yet their growing self-awareness and exploration of life in Mumbai sets them on two very paths towards adulthood.


Such a story is hardly a novel one, but uses it to explore themes in a very different setting -- a vibrant, cricket-obsessed Mumbai, with stark divides of wealth and poverty. It's a fluid world populated with a solid cast of supporting characters, from the cricket scout Tommy Boy desperate to define his legacy by finding a great player to the handsome middle-class Javed, who represents both the main competition for the brothers and the allure of a different life. What they all have in common is that they are all striving in one way or another -- the adults striving for wealth through the children they try to control like chess pieces, the children who seek to break free from that control and discover themselves before the world opening up before them. It is their growing realization of their power to determine their own fate that drives the story, even if it leads them in some very familiar directions.


And that is what disappointed me about the novel: the predictability of Adiga's plot. The whole story unfolds in an extremely formulaic fashion, with the ending telegraphed to its readers well before reach the book's midpoint. Perhaps my expectations were excessive, but I hoped for something more from an author who has won the Man Booker Prize for his previous work. What he has written is an enjoyable novel about two boys living in a world of in which the promise of youth intermixes with the desperation of poverty, but I couldn't help finishing it thinking that it could have been so much more than it was.

Oh, well, at least it got me to finally learn about the game of cricket.

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text 2017-06-15 12:07
Reading progress update: I've read 304 out of 304 pages.
Selection Day: A Novel - Aravind Adiga

I just finished this book, and I'm still uncertain as to how I feel about it. Much of it was fantastic: the descriptions of life in Bombay/Mumbai, the characterization, the coming-of-age of two rural boys who are facing decisions that will shape the rest of their lives and slowly realizing for the first time that they rather than the people around them have the final say in who they become. And yet it's all anchored to a plot that is annoyingly formulaic in its construction. Perhaps this is unfair, but I expected something a bit more imaginative from a Man Booker winner.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-08 03:49
The Crown (The Selection) - Kiera Cass

This is my least favorite cover of the series because the model's head/neck positioning looks so awkward...


Anyway, I was generally happy with the conclusion to the series. I wish Lucy and Aspen had adopted. I guess I can still imagine that they do after the book ends.


I remember that in the first book, it's stated that a crown prince/princess is supposed to step up when the monarch feels he/she is ready and not necessarily when that monarch dies, so it was interesting to me that that happens in this book. I hadn't expected it, but it's happier than losing a parent in order to ascend the throne.


I also like that she demanded respect from her councilors, though I think anyone with that kind of power should purposely keep people in that position who have very different beliefs, so that he/she doesn't end up surrounding themselves with "yes men" and instead get a variety of ideas and opinions. But respect is vital.


Eadlyn has definitely inherited her mother's ability to leap to illogical conclusions in a single bound. She's gently rejected by one suitor and immediately comes to the conclusion that she is unlovable. Girl, chill.


I loved Eikko the most, so I'm really happy that he won (and that they had the blessing of Henri because he was such a sweetie). I particularly loved that he was allowed to show emotion and it wasn't used to emasculate him. Boys have feelings too!


I'm sad to see the series end, but glad it didn't disappoint. :)

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review 2017-04-24 10:29
The Selection - Kiera Cass

Every time I walk into our local bookstore, I will always notice these gorgeous book covers from The Selection Series by Kiera Cass on the young adult section.  They are so catchy and attractive, they are almost impossible to miss. And every time I look at them, there is something that pulls me to touch them. I am not even embarrassed when people see me petting those books.



The Selection follows the story of a 17-year-old girl, America Singer. She is one of the chosen girls who are qualified to join The Selection, a competition of girls in which Prince Maxon (Crown Prince of Illea) is going to chose his future wife. But America is already in love with someone else (Aspen). Despite being reluctant to join The Selection and the pressure from her family, a misunderstanding with her lover forces America to join the competition. Later on, she finds herself competing with 34 other girls who are trying to win Prince Maxon’s heart. Moreover, there are group of rebels who frequently attack the palace and threaten The Selection process. Then America finds out that Aspen becomes a royal guard of the palace. With her jealousy arising from the competition and realizing that her first love is also in the palace, how would America deal with all of these? It’s for you to find out. ***zipping my lips***


What I really like about this book is the Caste system where each person/family is being assigned with a number based on their status in life. “One” being the highest, which means the Royal family, down to “Eight” being the lowest, which implies the poorest of the society.  This is the first time I’ve read a book with castes so I like it.



I like America’s personality. I could somehow relate to her but I’m not like her (Does that make sense?). Anyway, I need more of Maxon. To me he’s still a mystery that I’m curious to know more about. The other characters that I am fond of are America’s father, May, America’s maids and Marlee.  


This book contains love triangle, so if that is not your thing you might not enjoy this book. I, myself consider “love triangles” as one of my pet peeves, so there are many scenes here that bother me. If I didn’t know the endgame before starting this book, I would not bother with this one. This also reminds me a lot of the US Tv series, “The Bachelor”.



All in all, it’s an okay read for me. I’m not crazy about it but it is an easy read. The chapters aren’t too long for me so I get to finish this book in the span of one and a half days, which only happens when I’m in the mood to read because I’m not really a fast reader.




#I’m a sucker for gorgeous book covers so picking this up is a no-brainer


#Just because I like America doesn’t mean that I don’t get annoyed with her when she acts stupid, which happens more often

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review 2017-03-05 02:19
The Selection - Kiera Cass

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I had heard that America is annoying, but I didn't find her so.

I wouldn't exactly call The Selection dystopian, as it doesn't really seem any worse than reality. This story is a beautiful conglomeration of elements from The Hunger Games, Matched, Princess Academy,Cinderella, The Bachelor and the biblical story of Esther. I'm sure there are more, but these are the stories I was reminded of as I read The Selection.

The love triangle, in particular, reminded me of those in The Hunger Games and Matched. I love both Aspen and Maxon and have had a hard time deciding which one I want to be with America, just as she struggles to decide. I love the friendship between America and Maxon and at this point in the series, I want America to choose Aspen (despite his hissy fit) and remain a good friend to Maxon.

There were other things that reminded me of The Hunger Games as well, such as the lottery, the payments to the families of the Selected,The Report along with its host Gavril, etc.

The training to be a princess is what reminds me of Princess Academy and I really enjoyed that aspect of it as well.

The gathering of women, some from less fortunate backgrounds, wearing dresses and competing for one man's heart was reminiscent of Cinderella and Esther as well as The Bachelor.

It does contain the common mistake of using "Your Majesty" and "Your Highness" interchangeably, and the also common insistence that "even though EVERYONE says that I'm beautiful, I promise you, reader, I'm not even pretty." So, that was kind of annoying.

I won't pretend this book is excellent quality, but it did its job as entertainment and I really enjoyed it. On to The Elite!

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