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Customer Review

39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic new dystopian series!, June 5, 2013
This review is from: The Testing (Hardcover)
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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