Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Number of Pages: 336
Source of Book: ARC from bookseller in anticipation of author visit
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 in the same?First Thought: Oh my goodness! SO good! An engrossing, thrilling, intriguing, suspenseful story set in a well-built future world.
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.
I really enjoyed reading THE TESTING. I was engrossed it in from the start. At first, I was a little worried that it would be too reminiscent of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT, but as I got into it, I realized that it was completely it's own creation of this world, while maybe feeling like an homage to those great dystopians that have come before it.
It was so hard to put THE TESTING down. Joelle Charbonneau wrote a well-paced plot, and once I got to certain parts throughout, it was impossible not to keep reading so that I could find out what would happen and who would survive. I very much liked the main character, Cia, and was pulling for her throughout the book. She is smart, while still being young and sometimes making decisions that made me want to yell at her, but her intelligence and insights are what keep her going. In a game of who can you trust, she learns to really think through all situations, but that doesn't mean she figures all of it out. In a contest of who can make a great leader, it is difficult to know exactly what the officials might be looking for, but staying true to oneself and one's upbringing can always been seen as the right path. Cia's path is not easy, her decisions are not easy, her ability to live with herself after what she has to do to survive will not be easy, but she stays true to herself which is an admirable quality.
The world-building was done well in giving the reader enough information when necessary, but also keeping us guessing about some things. The scenes of explanation are smoothly entrenched in what is happening in the story and propel the plot forward, but also give us enough insight into how things might have come to be this way. The overall idea behind The Testing is so smart, and so manipulative, and scary at the same time. I just hope all of the characters that I have come to like will make it through this series.
And, yes, there is an element of romance, but in a brutal contest that is set up to kill off candidates who are not worthy, and a system that is set up to make you question the ulterior motives of everyone around you, and in a world in which all may not be as it seems, how can one be sure of anything that happens during The Testing or trust one's own memories? That remains to be seen.
Final Thoughts: I'm calling it now - I think this is going to be the next big dystopian series...it will at least fill that hole left behind from the end of the The Hunger Games and the upcoming end of the Divergent series.