The Testing is the first book in a new Dystopian trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau. This is her first time writing for the Young Adult market.
The Seven Stages War ravaged much of the United States and now the leaders have issued a challenge for choosing potential leaders – The Testing. The Testing is something that many children aspire to but few achieve. Cia lives in an outlying colony called Five Lakes in what remains of the country. She has worked her whole life with one goal in mind – to be chosen. When Cia’s hopes come true she undergoes the most grueling and stressful series of events designed to separate the strong from the weak.
Comparisons to The Hunger Games are going to be inevitable with this book. And warranted. Simply put, this book owes a lot to Suzanne Collins. It would not exist without the success of that book series. However, if The Hunger Games is the overachieving, willful parent than this book is its scrappy and precocious progeny. It does not bother me that another book will be name-dropped in the marketing of this book. Those fans will like this. Scratch that, those fans will love this with the fiery passion of a thousand suns… if they can get past the similar, formulaic execution that both books share. In truth it’s a mirror image, but it’s a damn good facsimile.
Cia is a great narrator to follow in this book. She is headstrong and forthright, a problem solver. Beneath her intelligence and her capabilities lies a fragile, vulnerable girl – a girl who hesitates when she must perform a difficult task… a girl who doubts her first instinct. It is Cia’s compassion that ring true for the reader. This is a character who cannot forget the value of friendship, of trust and of reliance upon others, no matter what she faces. She’s the girl who won’t leave those she loves behind. Her moral compass will polarize the readers who want her to succeed, and simultaneously fail, the intense battles that make up The Testing.
Cia is tested. And she fails. And overcomes. She loves, and loses. She gains and wins, but can never go back. Because nothing is as it seems in The Testing and every triumph hides lies and malice beneath. The Testing is complex. And simple. And pulse pounding. And completely readable. It’s one I enjoyed reading and look forward to the sequel, Independent Study, with much anticipation.
5 out of 5 stars.
* The Testing releases June 4th, 2013.