I received a free digital copy of the book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
“It had always been a fact of life that we were biologically different—better—and that it had to be kept secret.”
Seventeen-year-old Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. She’s beautiful, freakishly athletic, and extremely smart. That’s because she comes from a race of highly-evolved humans living in the heart of Austin, Texas.
In order to protect their anonymity and preserve their elite society, Julia’s powerful father forces her to suppress her abilities. When she accidentally demonstrates her super human prowess in public, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. Thrust into the confusion and humiliation of a normal high school, Julia is just trying to keep her head down when John Ford strolls into her life. An outsider and tennis jock, John is immediately attractive to Julia as a curiosity. She can even read his mind. But as Julia’s newfound powers over John grow, so do her feelings.
When she discovers her father has been hiding dangerous secrets, for the first time in her life, Julia begins to question her restrictive upbringing. Caught between the prejudices of her manipulative father and the allure of an outsider’s life, Julia must decide how she will define herself—and who she will betray.
Julia Jaynes is the oldest daughter of Novak, a man wealthy beyond belief and the leader of a small group of people who possess abilities far superior to the average human being. As the opportunity for the group to Relocate comes ever closer, Julia finds herself banished from her group of friends in order to maintain the anonymity of their people, and told to suppress her powers when living amongst those without. But as Julia becomes deeply involved with a human at her new school, she begins to question her life and upbringing believing it possible to live amongst humans and must decide who she will choose: her people, or the boy she loves.
Select is a novel that highlights themes surrounding individuality and how being different is not a bad thing, but can be construed as being in that way. Julia comes from a species that, should knowledge get out about their abilities and superior nature, would insight fear and misunderstanding into those living in the area. They would be shunned and outcast due to their very nature. However, when Julia and John become friends and things begin to develop further, it becomes clear that John has accepted Julia’s differences from the moment he met her and sees her differences – not just in who she is, but how she looks – as being unique and making her who she is. He does not feel fear towards who and what she is, but appreciates that she looks different – not just to him, but to her own people. It is a novel about acceptance and understanding your differences.
You can also see themes arise in the way in which Julia, and her sister Liv, are brought up within the same household. Though it is clear that Julia possesses more abilities and is far stronger and the best candidate to be the future leader, she is suppressed by being segregated with a group of boys and told that they must not train their abilities and dampen them down. On the other hand, Liv is put in a group where they are taught their abilities and encouraged to use them whilst also being told information that is not provided to Julia’s group. All of this comes about due to a series of future insights Novak has, where he predicts that Liv will be the next leader though it becomes clear that Julia should be the most likely candidate. As well as this, both sisters are treated differently in due to Julia’s parentage which is kept as a deep secret until towards the end of the novel, similarly making Julia feel different and not part of the group.
Select definitely falls into that category of almost insta-love with Julia and John. As soon as they have their first encounter towards the beginning of the novel she becomes hyper-aware of him and can feel it when he is staring at her. It is a cliche of young adult novels for this sort of relationship to sprout and it really set the genre in stone. Theirs is definitely a relationship that you ship, and you can see the struggles between the two as Julia fights what is natural, and what goes against her people’s beliefs. It is evident that her conflict is rubbing against them, and that her other life will always get in the way of them being able to live a happy life. Julia, though she holds a rebellious nature and isn’t truly sure of her position within her group, understands that she cannot stand out too much without giving herself away, but allows herself this one indiscretion believing that she can allow herself some happiness before she leaves for good. John, you begin to see, brings out the good side of Julia which becomes evident in the way in which her appears seems to change the more time she spends away from her group. She begins to look more natural as her hair lightens, freckles appear on her skin, and she gains weight suggesting that she is happy in herself.
I really enjoyed this novel. It was a quick and easy read that provided some mystery towards the beginning of the novel surrounding who and what Julia and her group were. I was both intrigued but also annoyed by this lack of information but it did make me keep reading as I was interested to find out the truth. I am looking forward to seeing where the rest of the series goes.