The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
The Skinny: Every year students from across the country are selected for the opportunity to participate in the Testing to attend the country’s University. No one from Cia’s small town has been chosen in ten years but this year is different. 4 students, including Cia, are chosen and are sent to the capitol city where they will enter the Testing. But before she leaves, her father warns her that the Testing isn’t what it seems. There’s a price to pay for being chosen.
BFF?: Okay Cia… hm. I mean, I liked her, but didn’t really connect with her on a BFF level. Now, don’t get me wrong, she was a very well-written and developed character. But I wouldn’t put her up there with Katniss. One thing I did give her props for was being resourceful during the 4th part of the Testing. Not to give anything away, of course, but it’s interesting to see how characters react when they’re left to their own devices. I also liked how ingenuitive (seriously, is this a word?) she was. Like she thought things out methodically and critically. I can totally get behind that kind of thinking and it was interesting to see how she approached different situations and parts of the test. I like to think I’d be like that if put through it! Anyway… I liked Cia. I really did. But I think I’m going to need a little more before I can evaluate her as a BFF.
Readability: I was surprised at how well this one read. Not that I thought it was going to be lame, but I didn’t expect to be hooked with every chapter! The writing was spot on, definitely easy to follow and engaging.
Crush Level: 6 (?)
Tomas was like this great mix of Gale and Peeta. Only… slightly more Peeta. But with Gale’s survival skills. And while this comparison should have given him a higher level, I felt a little distrustful of him. I couldn’t quite understand his attachment to Cia. Maybe I’m jaded, but I find it a little curious that he wanted to be so close to her. Of course, he’d been in love with her, but that’s besides the point. Towards the end I wasn’t all that sure what to think of him. Overall, he seems really great. He’s sweet and loving and brave and protecting, but what lies beneath all that is pretty opaque.
Part of the Testing is testing each student to the fullest extent. Part of this includes dropping the students into a random part of the country and letting them find their way back. Needless to say… it gets pretty iffy!
The various wars had caused water supplies to become tainted and poisoned, so finding water was pretty tricky. I loved all the water tests and treatments Cia did during her journey. Made for interesting survival lessons!
Commencement Speech: Look. I honestly don’t care that this book is basically The Hunger Games long lost twin sibling. It was pretty solid and was an exciting adventure. Sure, there are a lot of similarities, but like any set of twins, it had its own unique personality. I loved the premise, especially knowing (and experiencing) how ruthless smart kids can be. Each of the characters were so well written, even those who didn’t play a huge role in the book. Their little stories were fleshed out and impacted the book’s development in a huge way. I appreciated how the book ended and, while it was sort of a cliffhanger, it didn’t leave me disappointed or angry that I have to wait for the next one. It was like a surprise ending movie (only not a surprise). Overall, great start to what I think will be an exciting new series!
Yearbook Quote: “None! ARC!”
Superlatives – Most likely to make you wish you had studied a bit harder in school
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