The world-building in this book was ridiculous. The caste system makes absolutely no sense. The caste system consists of eight groups that range from One to Eight. If you're born into a caste, you are only allowed to take certain jobs. Born a Five? Hope you're a good artist, musician, or singer. Want to do something else? Too bad. Born an Eight? Congrats! You're homeless! I don't even know how this system would function without people rejecting it immediately.
Now, the main character is America Singer (surprisingly, she sings). America is a Five, and her family is supposedly practically destitute and often goes hungry. Despite their supposedly really poor status, they have: a house big enough where America gets her own room, a backyard with a tree house, a television, jewelry for America, a bunch of clothes for America (that are bland, but otherwise perfectly fine), popcorn to eat while watching the news, spices to add to their food (which includes meat and fruit), make-up (which America says she can only use sparingly, but she breaks it out an awful lot in the short time we see her at home), a ton of musical instruments, etc. Basically, we're told they're really poor, but they have all these things that you would expect them to sell in exchange for food, which they sometimes go without. Plus, America can play a bunch of musical instruments and speak three languages (and she didn't grow up in a household that spoke multiple languages). They just didn't come across as actually being as poor as was claimed. Bad with money, maybe. I mean, they apparently accepted a microscope as a form of payment. So yeah...
Anyways, the Selection is an event where all the eligible young ladies of the country are put into a lottery (but not so much a lottery since applications are filled out and pictures are taken) when a prince is of marrying age (Prince Maxon in this case). One lady from each of the 35 districts is selected to compete for a chance to marry the prince and eventually become the queen. America has a secret boyfriend, Aspen, when this starts, but he insists she enters for a shot at a better life. Also, those who are selected get a lot of money for every week they remain in the competition, so it's really just a smart thing to try for, but she does it because Aspen says so. Then Aspen breaks up with her because he doesn't want to drag her down to his caste, Six. America's devastated, but is selected a week later, so she can get away.
And then starts the hypocritical judging and condemnations of most of the girls for being fake.
Things this book taught me are signs of being fake: wearing nail polish, dying your hair, following a fashion trend, wearing really fancy dresses or dressing up a lot (unless you're America or someone she likes), being polite to people you don't like, being sexy, wearing a ton of make-up.
Things that aren't fake: hair extensions, vanilla scented lotions, modest jewelry, modest fancy dresses (unless America or someone she like is wearing a fancy dress), just a little bit of make-up.
Basically, the rules were really arbitrary, but whenever America was doing something, she was being herself. Whenever another girl did anything (unless America liked them), they were being fake. The girl-hate got ridiculous. There'd be moments where America would wax on about how she loved all these girls and didn't hate anyone, but her actions and thoughts proved otherwise time and again. And if you weren't immediately incredibly nice to America and didn't fawn over her, you're an awful person. And probably fake too.
Oh, there are multiple wars going on, but they barely get more than the occasional mention. There are also rebels that regularly attack the castle and get in the grounds and even in the castle itself. That is a serious security breach. Yet there are so many scenes where America is walking around outside with the prince and no guards. And a party with visiting royalty is held outside. Why the hell would you host this competition if your castle regularly gets invaded by rebels? And how incompetent are your guards? I mean, the first rebel attack in the book consists of rebels getting into the grounds and throwing bricks and rotten fruit at the castle, only to run off an hour or so later when a guard finally takes a shot at one of them.
Anyways, to ensure we have a love triangle, Aspen(show spoiler)
The book really just ends without much of anything happening. The world-building is illogical. America doesn't do much of anything besides judge others. I spent the whole book either going, "What? That makes no sense." or just getting mad at America for being a horrible person.