The Testing
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2014
I've had my eye on THE TESTING long before it was released. I even received an eARC from the publisher for review. I was just sooo excited to read this, but for some crazy reason, I didn't. I kept thinking how awesome this series sounds, and how much I love dystopians, but I kept putting it off. So finally, when I received my credits from audible audio, I said what the hell, it's finally time to give THE TESTING it's fair shot. And OMG, I found myself instantly drawn into this story. The narrator was amazing, and the mystery was alluring, and I was easily able to get into the vibes. I couldn't help but to pick this audiobook up every free chance I got.

THE PLOT...

Cia has always lived a fairly good life, better then most anyway. With a big family, all brothers, and two loving successful parents that any child would appreciate. She's been preparing for the opportunity to be chosen for The Testing. But when the time comes to graduate and become an official adult, Cia's world becomes a living nightmare.

Cia's dreams have finally come true, she's officially been chosen for The Testing!! And she can't be more thrilled. She's always hoped for the opportunity to show her government just how much she can contribute in making the Commonwealth a better place for their future. And now after all her hard work, it's finally paid off. Until The Testing actually starts and Cia finally sees The Testing for what it really is, a death trap in waiting!

Cia has no choice but to go through with The Testing, or risk treason against the United Commonwealth. And that right there could mean a death sentence in itself. But Cia's not giving up, she's smart, determined, and not easily manipulated. And besides, Cia has one thing that gives her an advantage, and just might keep her alive long enough to get through The Testing. She has her fathers words, his warnings, his own experiences through The Testing. But as The Testing gets deeper, and Cia finds herself getting closer to the finish line, her fathers words ring in her ears "Trust no one." But Cia finds herself drawn to her childhood friend Tomas, and feels for some reason, he can be trusted. But what about the other Testing Candidates? Can they be trusted? Who's real, and who isn't? Who is befriending her to betray her? And who is befriending her to ally with her?

As the plot thickens, and The Testing Candidates get further into The Testing, they will have to determine who is deadly, and who is just trying survive. Because before all is said and done, they will come face to face with death, but whether or not they survive is up to them. But Cia may find that there is more cutthroats then not, and if she has any chance of surviving, she will have to do as her father said "Trust no one!" But surly, she can trust Tomas, can't she?

THE TESTING was a great addition to the Dystopian genre, that is sure to please many readers. I'm looking forward to finishing this series and seeing what happens next in Cia and Tomas's adventure!

Overall, THE TESTING was a fast-paced, action-packed, thrill-ride, that is not to be missed! If you love action, adventure, corrupt governments, rebellions, and overall, a great dystopian novel, then THE TESTING is sure to please!!!

NOTE: I received an eARC from Houghton Mifflin Books for reviewing purposes. All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I went into this book eager and excited to learn more about this thing called "The Testing." Having Cia's father's last departing words in the summary piqued my interest, big time. Why can't you trust anyone?! What's so dark about being tested to further your education? When I got an ARC from the publisher (Thanks so much HMHKIDS!) I could not wait to dive into this world. I had to hold off for a couple of weeks due to scheduling but once I finally started reading, I couldn't set it down! School and life demanded my attention so unfortunately, I had to stop reading. But the next minute I was free, I was grabbing this book up again. Needless to say, THE TESTING doesn't disappoint!

I've seen a couple of reviewers claiming that THE TESTING is like the HUNGER GAMES. I don't necessarily agree with that statement. I'll explain why: In a post-apocalyptic world, after the deadly Seven Stages of World, Earth is left ravaged, broken, and hardly sustainable to life. A group of survivors came together, created the United Commonwealth, and started the revitalization of Earth. Fast forward a hundred years or so later, and enter Cia Vale. She lives in the Five Lakes Colony with her family and University graduate father. Without him, new species of plants would not have been developed and everyone would die. (Basically. I'm kind of stretching it a bit). When Cia is chosen for The Testing after graduation, her father is not very pleased. He's gone through it, before.

Cia and the 3 other members of her colony are the first chosen candidates from Five Lakes in years. The competition sees them as no threat. The Testing is a series of tests that not only test the candidates' intellect, but also their character, leadership, ability to work in group, and survive. *cue creepy music* Now, while I can see how some people drew parallels to the HUNGER GAMES, this book has its own flare, spice, and really, its own unique premise. THE TESTING is all about learning who you can and cannot trust, being able to decipher the Testing officials cryptic directions, outsmarting said directions and the other competition, and using the skills and knowledge that has been instilled in you since birth to come out of the Testing alive. This book is a smart book. After reading it and seeing just how brilliant Cia is and her ability to figure out what the Testing officials were actually looking for, I realized I'd probably fail the test. Hard. There are some devious candidates who are willingly to do almost anything to pass the tests. And while the candidates do have to go through a certain test that sees their ability to survive on the ravaged planet, those are the only two ways I would really compare it to The HUNGER GAMES.

I absolutely loved Cia. She's not some "I can take on the world without breaking a sweat" character that you see from a lot of dystopians. She is young. She is scared. She makes people think she is brave, even if she isn't exactly feeling that way at the time. She is cautious. She is willingly to make sacrifices if it means doing the right thing. She trusts a little too easily. She is real. I could not have imagined a better character for this story. I loved watching her grow but also seeing the vulnerable side that a real teenager would exhibit if they were thrown into the real world, so fast, with no idea what the next day might bring. I would be terrified to be sent away from home to take part in The Testing. You have no idea what it's going to be like. If my dad told me the things that Cia's father told her the night before she left, I wouldn't go...if you weren't forced to go, that is.

Tomas. Tomas. Tomas. I have such a hard time with, you! He seems like the perfect, swoon-worthy gentleman who acts like he's had a secret thing for Cia for quite some time. I loved how he wanted to form an alliance with Cia. But after what Cia's dad said, I never could fully trust him. After all the sweet and encouraging things he did to ease Cia's mind, I still had this little bug in my ear saying "don't get too attached!" I'm not going to tell you whether you should trust him or not. You need to read the book to find out! And really, you probably need to read the second book: INDEPENDENT STUDY to make your mind up.

And that brings me to my last point: the ending. I'm a sucker for a good ending. And Ms. Charbonneau, you're killing me with that ending! She ends the novel at such a pivotal point! I have to wait until January '14 to see what happens next?! It's not necessarily a cliff hanger but man, it ended at such a good part. I definitely said, out loud, "NO. You can't just end now!"

To sum everything up: I would definitely recommend this book to all dystopian/post-apocalyptic fans! While there may be some aspects that The HUNGER GAMES fans would enjoy, Joelle Charbonneau has created a unique world with a rigorous and daunting Testing regimen that I don't think I would even be able to pass. She uses syntax to her and the Testing officials advantage, challenging readers to see if they are paying as careful attention as is required for the candidates to move on to the next round. With a realistic and admirable main character, THE TESTING is sure to keep your attention until the very last sentence. But be careful of who you decide to trust!
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2014
I loved this book! An amazing dystopian novel that is very realistic and believable. One of the best heroines I have read about in recent years. and a world that, while devastated, is one I almost wish I could visit to see what it it like. Lucky for readers, Joelle Charbonneau does a wonderful job in her deliverance of this world to us.

This book is a first person novel from the view of Cia. Cia is a young teen who is specially selected to join in The Testing. The Testing is about selecting future world leaders or specialists of various fields. Cia's father was previously chosen and warns Cia that things may not be as they seem. Cia is a smart young woman. One of the best and well-written characters is YA fiction I have read. Down to earth, smart, compassionate, high sense or morals, dignity and more. She is not all powerful, super-strong, etc. She is your everyday person who has faith in herself. She is helpful to others yet not naive enough to trust others. She is very observant. This simplistic seeming skills are what has her standing apart from the crowd.

The imagery of this story leaves you feeling how real this world is. You can tell that this is still the US that the story takes place in. We get to see what Chicago is like in the story. We have war ravenged mutants, loss of civilization, loss of plant life, water and more and it is very well laid before us exactly to really live in Cia's reality. The world is fighting hard to correct itself. Signs of hope are everywhere yet government lords over everything with an iron grip.

While Cia makes friends, and confronts other less-than-friends, Thomas is her main constant. There is an element of romance in this book but not over the top. Although it never quite feels very real either. The main story line of the test, and Cia's goals and hope are still the focus. The pace is very consistent. There is a LOT happening in this book, but it is not overwhelmingly done. The personality and style of writing is amazing! Conspiracy, survival, friendship and more collide in the spectacular novel!

Great quote from the book that helps set the stage:
“Things don't always work out the way we hope. You just have to pick yourself up and find a new direction to go in.”
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2014
The plot was decent enough, but hard to really buy. If the characters were engaging I could've forgiven the flaws in the plot.

One of the main characters even has this to say about the plot: "I mean, why the hell would the Testing officials bring us all here just to kill us? It doesn't make any sense." No, Tomas, it doesn't make sense, and I am asking myself the same thing.

Despite my better judgment, I was curious about this book. The plot sounded like "Post-apocalyptic setting with a fight-to-the-death ACTs." I should have listened to the reviews that call this a carbon-copy of The Hunger Games except most people want to be tested after they finish their schooling, as opposed to being Reaped and knowing you'll probably die.

Which brings me to my next problem with this book. The whole testing process is really just a college entrance exam. Through inaction, the university essentially encourages the participants to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill. To them, death is a result of being wrong about something and if you died because you accidentally ate a poisonous plant, or another participant murders you, well, you should've been CONSTANTLY VIGILANT and not been killed, so the school wouldn't have wanted you anyway. Just. WHAT IS THAT. WHAT EVEN IS THAT. Beyond that, though, I'm not sure how this impacts the rest of the nation. Maybe not every colony is 100% equal to the others in terms of wealth, but I really do not think of this as a dystopia. The colonies are thriving for the most part. Leadership is encouraging research to improve the world from all the devastation of wars and natural disasters. Certainly there is some really shady things going on in their government (such as the, you know, violent university entrance exam process and punishment by death if you do not go if you're picked, even though it appears most everyone hopes to get picked). There is no indication that beyond the testing process that the leadership and government are oppressing their citizens; they are not (as far as we know at this point in the story when the book ends) taking all the colonies' wealth for themselves and making them live in terror. They genuinely want to improve things, it seems.

So it's baffling to me that the testing process is even a thing.

I could have overlooked the flawed logic if the characters were at least compelling, but I felt like I was reading void sacks of skin take tests then try to kill each other. Seriously. Not a single character evoked any emotion from me. The romance felt flat and bland and had zero chemistry or passion going for it. I could not care any less about any of the deaths or plot twists or anything. I don't think I've read a book that lacks emotion and feeling more than this one, except maybe "No Safety in Numbers."

Go read The Hunger Games instead. Cia and Tomas are definitely no Katniss and Peeta. If there weren't so many similarities between the two series I wouldn't go there, but the main plots of The Testing follow THG almost step-for-step, and maybe here imitation is not the most sincere form of flattery.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2013
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales.

Quick & Dirty: Originality is thrown to the corner with the almost exact premise of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, with a few interesting twists. A short read, with some romance and lots of action, but it has a very similar tone and overall feel to it.

Opening Sentence: Graduation day.

The Review:

The first thing I thought after reading a few chapters was, “It’s like the Hunger Games!” And it is, in so many ways. Malencia, or Cia for short, is chosen to compete in a mandatory “Testing” to win a prize: a future job for The United Commonwealth. Soon she realizes it isn’t just a few hours with a sore hand and pencil — if you lose, you lose your life, your eye, you name it. At one point they are alone in the wilderness, with certain weapons and making allies, picking off competitors and fighting off dangers. (Sounding similar?) Along with her is a childhood friend, Tomas, and they have a few scenes that made me smile, but nothing compared to the cuteness of the relationship Peeta and Katniss developed. We’re talking about something leading off The Hunger Games, after all. You can’t really beat that, although I feel like Charbonneau made an effort.

This book was cool and all, but after reading Collin’s masterpiece, it didn’t make me feel anything profound. If we’re looking at the writing style, there isn’t anything to complain about —- the sentences flowed smoothly and description was plenty. The characters, in my opinion, were the part of the story that was lacking.

Tomas, Cia’s love interest, wasn’t doing it for me. I was actually convinced throughout the book that he was going to somehow betray her when it mattered most, but I was wrong! You can’t make the love interest smart, handsome, and completely flawless. It’s not realistic, which is why I had my doubts. I feel as if the author didn’t build on their relationship before The Testing enough, because they’re childhood friends, and I feel like if the author sprinkled in some private jokes, I could have warmed up to him.

Another thing was how quickly paced the book moved — one moment, Cia is enthusiastic about The Testing, a page later she has convinced herself that The United Commonwealth is keeping something from her about it. One chapter ends with her walking into her room and finding a roommate who committed suicide, which is surprising considering that character seemed perfectly healthy, if not a nasty personality, an hour or so back.

I feel like the tone was set well, however. It’s eerie, dark, yet romantic and mysterious.

Wrapping it all up, I thought this book was predictable and unoriginal. I had no problem with the plot or writing, the characters were what made me raise my eyebrows. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games, you might enjoy this. Or you could be like me, irritated that if The Hunger Games was going to be redone, they might have done a better job with it. This is something to get from the library, either way; don’t waste your money unless you’re on Hunger Games withdrawal and seriously need it.

Notable Scene:

Ryme. Nina. Malachi. Boyd. Gill. Annalise. Nicolette. Roman. Zandri.

A pile of bodies lies in the corner when the evaluators turn to me. Dr. Barnes shakes his head. He tells me I showed great promise. It’s too bad I trusted the wrong people. Leaders cannot afford that mistake. He tells me I failed as another Testing official pulls out a crossbow, aims, fires. The quarrel punches through my stomach, and I scream myself awake before I hit the floor.

FTC Advisory: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children provided me with a copy of The Testing. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2013
Going into this book, I had read a few review beforehand. There were quite a few reviews that were upset with the slow beginning because a good 40% of the book is about the test. Knowing that ahead of time, I was prepared for it so I was able to get through it without feeling frustrated. Yes, it was a little bit boring at times, but it was necessary to help set up the rest of the book. You need to see how bad the test is in order to support Cia in the rebellion against it.

While I do like to read a good romance story involved with young adult fictions, I didn’t like how this one started. At the beginning of the book, you really didn’t get the sense that Cia and Tomas talked much during their life in Five Lakes and now all of a sudden they act like they’ve been friends forever. The fact that Cia just trusts him right away was a little much for me. It would have been better for me if they showed him earning that trust over time.

The story lacked originality. There were a lot of times that I could see strong similarities between this book and other popular books like Divergent and The Hunger Games. Especially the final part of The Testing. All the candidates were dropped into an arena and were forced to learn how to survive as they race to the finish line. They had to deal with not only the other candidates but mutated animals and people (The Hunger Games much?) I am going to give the 2nd book a go but if it turns out the same, then I might cut this series.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2014
I won this ARC from a blog giveaway, thanks! This has probably been my favorite read in the past few weeks, but I couldn't give it five stars for issues that I couldn't ignore.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau has been on my list to read for a long time. It's been compared to the Hunger Games, and stars Cia, who is in one of the colonies who have not had any candidates selected for The Testing in a long time. The Testing has been put in place after war has devastated the world to find the best candidate leaders of the country to go to University. No one in Cia's town knows much about The Testing except for her own father, who refuses to speak about it. Cia is chosen with three other people in her class, and she starts a difficult and treacherous journey where either death or glory can await.

I admit I was really into this book. Cia is a great main character-- she's humble, gracious, and has a good heart. But at the same time, she is super intelligent and has obviously been trained well by both her school and her father. Other reviewers have mentioned that she may be too perfect, at least in the sense of being able to do things and always being right for the most part, at least about her instincts on traps and puzzles. I agree. It would have been nice to see other characters contribute as well. They obviously were smart enough to get there.

Some reviewers were upset with how "boring" the testing part was, but actually, I loved that part. I really enjoyed the section where Cia figures out something key that allows her to pass to the next test and thought it was pretty clever. The test revealed something about several of the characters. I did think it was odd that even though her father gave her the warning not to trust anyone, she seems to have developed a sixth sense suspicion, which seems almost too good to be true. I also liked the descriptions of the other tests. It shows what kinds of things Cia is good at before she gets tested further in the third portion of the test.

The journey Cia takes with her love interest, Tomas, from thereon out was gripping, and I wanted to know what each of the characters were hiding. I was definitely surprised by some of the outcomes. This was the first book in a while that I was contemplating buying the next book on Kindle immediately to see what happens next.

That said, other than the issues I alluded to above, there were a couple of other problems. I agree with others that the love connection between Cia and Tomas seems kind of quick and unbelievable. There are "hints" to the past, about looking longingly at each other during a dance, but we never see that, so we never really feel for them and root for them. And lastly, the world building isn't perfect. I definitely don't get why people have to die during the Testing. And what happens to the people who fail? It isn't clear what happens to them-- but I feel like the book hints to them being executed. It seems to me that people that put their own gain above the needs for others (meaning people who kill to "win") would probably not make very good leaders, but hey, that's me. Hopefully, more world building will be revealed in the next book.

Overall, there are definite similarities between this book and The Hunger Games, and probably has been in somewhat inspired by that trilogy, but I believe it stands on its own. I don't know if it's because I haven't read a dystopian in a while (I burned myself out like many other reviewers and then took a long break), or what, but I really like the "test" aspect to the whole thing, which was definitely lacking in The Hunger Games, which it should, since that wasn't the focus.

I think this was a great first novel in the trilogy, and Charbonneau definitely has a talent at keeping us on our toes and glued to the page. Even though I have 20 more books to get through, I may just take a break from my reading list and pick up the second today.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2013
Definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year. The style is engaging and while the plot mimics that of the Hunger Games, I found that The Testing used the techniques from the Hunger Games to make a better book. Of all the dystopian books I've read, this is one of the better books. Cia is an admirable protagonist who rings true to life and the area she comes from. The twists at the end of the book left me hungering for more.

The problems: There are a few passages where I wanted to read the dialogue instead of a description of the dialogue. Also, the author lacks some world building in the beginning which fixes itself by the end. Because this is the first book in a series, I can only imagine that my other questions will be answered in the following volumes.

This is a great book for teens. I can't wait for the sequel!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 2, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This story is basically a cross between Hunger Games and Divergent, so, if you've read those, you'll know exactly what to expect. The pacing is quick, the tension keeps you engaged, and the writing is good. But it's not really any different from what else is already out there.

Cia is an okay character. She's a good person and likable, and I feel I got to know her well. She did change and grow as the story progressed, and she became more and more likeable toward the end. I like her ingenuity and desire to help others, but I didn't really feel her rage toward the end. Nor did I ever get a good sense of Tomas. Cia tells us that he's a good person and that he always looks to help others, but we don't get to see much of it. Granted, Cia and Tomas have a history before they were chosen for Testing, so this was probably done on purpose. But, to me, it still felt contrived.

Even knowing exactly what kind of book this was, and knowing how it was going to end, it still kept my interest. I was curious how it was going to end, and the action kept me reading. But there was one thing I could not get over: I did not buy into the basic premise, and that interfered with my enjoyment of the entire book. Which is a shame, because the writing is good and the action scenes are intense and thoroughly enjoyable. So, I'm not sure if I'm interested in reading the next book.

Some SPOILERS below:

To me, it seemed like the foundation is the story is that civilization is trying to rebuild and create habitable areas. Yet, the government rounds up their most promising minds and then throws them into situations where three quarters of them will be killed. If the governing body is established and civilization is on its feet, like in Hunger Games, *then* it makes more sense. But to kill your most promising when you're still researching and rebuilding and trying to feed your own people is way too short-sighted for any halfway decent leader. Even if the leader is corrupt and only looking for a particular mindset, he would not squander a skilled mind. Instead, he would use it, at the very least, for personal gain. I could not get over this, and it colored everything as slightly contrived for me.

END SPOILER

Age Appropriateness: Considering the sheer amount of violence in this book, I'd say this is appropriate for older teens.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2014
At first I thought that this might be my kind of dystopian fiction book. I soon realized that it was not. The characters were lame and the plot was boring. The testing was dull and the connection between the characters was quite pathetic compared to other books of the same genre.I also didn't feel any connection with any of the characters.

I didn't really find this book very Interesting and I found myself having to force myself to get through some chapters in this book. I disliked this book that does not mean th at you won't.
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