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A sixteen-year-old girl and the main character and narrator. America is a Five—a member of a mid-level caste in a social structure made up of eight levels. Trained as a musician in a family of musicians and artists, America is smart, brave, and beautiful. She is one of 35 young women chosen to participate in the Selection, a televised competition during which Prince Maxon will choose a bride.
The nineteen-year-old crown prince of Illéa. Prince Maxon must pick his future wife from a group of 35 young women chosen to be part of the Selection. Maxon is attractive, kind, patient, and respectful toward the contestants in the Selection. Though he is ignorant of the daily the struggles of the people of Illéa, he is eager to help people from lower castes once he becomes aware of their suffering.
America’s secret boyfriend. Aspen is a Six, one caste below America. Determined and proud, he works hard to provide for his impoverished family and often goes hungry himself. After America is chosen for the Selection and the pair breaks up, Aspen is drafted into the army and stationed at the palace as a guard.
America’s mother. Mrs. Singer and America have a complicated and contentious relationship because they are both strong-willed and stubborn. Mrs. Singer expects America to follow the rules and to help support the family. She bribes America to apply for the Selection and is thrilled when America is chosen.
America’s father. Mr. Singer and America have a warm and easy relationship. Compassionate and understanding, he does not push America to apply for the Selection, even though her participation would benefit him as well.
America’s closest friend among the Selection contestants. Marlee, a Four, is beautiful, friendly, and good-natured. She quickly becomes a frontrunner in the contest.
A rival to America among the Selection contestants. Celeste, a Two, is catty and manipulative, and she has no qualms about sabotaging other contestants.
One of America’s maids. Anne was taken to the palace as an orphan and raised as a maid. She is the leader of the three maids who serve America.
One of America’s maids. Mary was born in the palace and raised as a maid.
One of America’s maids. Lucy was sold into service at the palace as a result of her family’s debt. Lucy was assaulted by rebels during an attack on the palace and suffers panic attacks.
The King of Illéa and Maxon’s father. King Clarkson is an authoritative and serious leader, but he lacks the warmth, charm, and compassion that people admire in Prince Maxon and Queen Amberly.
The queen of Illéa and Maxon’s mother. Born a Four, Queen Amberly was chosen to marry King Clarkson in the previous Selection. Compassionate and kind, Queen Amberly is loved and admired by the people of Illéa.