When I heard Joelle was coming to my city (which, trust me, we rarely get YA authors), I immediately picked up The Testing. It had been on my shelves for quite some time now, and due to my TBR jar, the odds picking that book are basically 1 in 100. Well, I pushed aside the TBR jar for now in order to read this and wow, why did I wait so long?
Title: The Testing (The Testing #1)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Release date: June 4, 2013
Genre: Young adult, dystopian, sci-fi, romance
Length: 325 pages (U.S. hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies–trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.”
If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, pick this book up! There a variety of similarities to that series and this one, but this one I liked a lot more. (Granted, I read THG a long time ago so… maybe I need to reread that series, too?) I absolutely loved how detailed this book was. The writing style itself was simple, and the main character, Cia Vale, quite likable. She’s quite smart, though in some situations, I kept wondering, Is she too smart?
When she and the other Testing candidates face their fourth trial, I kept wondering if she was too resourceful. Yes, there were obstacles but she really had an answer to everything, which I found a bit infuriating. There were some times, too, I found her romance with Tomas, another boy from her home of Five Lakes Colony, almost forced. I really have to put myself in the mindset of the world, and I keep thinking I, as a sixteen-year-old, would never be able to make it.
As for the world-building, like most first books in series, we don’t get all of it. We understand that the world has been ravaged by wars, famines, sickness, etc., and ultimately, what was once the United States is now the United Commonwealth and is divided into colonies, each specializing in their own products to benefit the commonwealth. Each year, several teenagers are chosen a Testing candidate. Cia, along with a handful of others from her colony, are chosen.
In the beginning, and really for a majority of the book, the government and the Testing officials really seem like a very benign and good government. The Testing itself comprises of four trials, each different of course, designed to challenge the candidates in all facets of their knowledge. It really isn’t until the end we know that something fishy is going on… But what it is, I don’t know. It’s the mystery that keep me reading, and the overall like for the main character.
I just hope this series ending doesn’t turn out like the ending of the Diveregent series. I might die a little on the inside if that’s the case. I hope Cia, in all her resourceful, will face a few more obstacles to challenge her, and I look forward to how she will “bring down” the government. I mean, it’s a dystopian so that has to be where this is going, right? lol
And keep an eye out for my blog post about when I met the author while at Epic Read’s Summer Meet-Up, along with Julie Murphy, Evelyn Skye, and Kimberly McCreight.