Title: The Testing
Release Date: June 4, 2013
When Cia Vale is accepted as a candidate for The Testing, she is thrilled at the opportunity to go to University and follow in her father’s footsteps! But before she leaves, her father warns her that the experience may not be what it seems and that it might be far more dangerous than she ever imagined. The other candidates don’t always play fair and the consequences of failure aren’t simply an end to her hopes and dreams – Cia simply hopes she can escape The Testing with her life!
- A lot like that other book. If you are one of those people who does NOT like it when a book is similar to a hugely popular book, you WON’T like The Testing. Right on the front cover of the copy I read, it declares that the book is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games. And, well, there’s good reason for that. This book is very similar to The Hunger Games in many ways (especially the second half of the book). Teenagers being used by a government entity and sent out into the wilderness to fend for themselves. They’re forced to get through the competition in whatever way they can (and many of them play dirty) – it ends up being more than a little reminiscent of Collins’ iconic series. For me, this was okay – I was still able to enjoy the book for what it is with only the occasional thought to Katniss and friends, but I know that some people will hate this, so I give you fair warning!
- A bit predictable. You’re kind of set up to know what’s going to happen at the end of this book because of things that are disclosed early on. I won’t go into detail because I still feel like it might be a bit spoilery, but the ending just doesn’t pack as much of a punch because you’re expecting it. I wished that there had been a few more surprises (there was one relatively big surprise that I didn’t see coming, not at the very end, but close to it, so that kept me from feeling entirely disappointed).
- The Testing. I really liked the idea of the Testing itself – the fact that everyone wanted the honor of going, but had no idea what really happened there was an interesting concept. I also really loved the competition between the candidates and how different candidates responded to the pressure – some handled it gracefully, while others turned on each other, and still others completely cracked. The tests themselves were intriguing and I was always on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen if someone failed! (I do have to say that there wasn’t a lot of logical sense behind the Testing, though – the idea was that The United Commonwealth was trying those people who were truly equipped to lead, but you would think they’d still want to keep the others alive, since they are the best and brightest in a world with a dwindling population. I had to suspend disbelief a bit when it came to that).
- Cia. I loved that Cia was a strong and highly intelligent main character. Not only was she able to solve mechanical and mathematical problems, but she used those smarts to puzzle out the competition and the world around her. Even though she might not have been the strongest competitor physically, she more than made up for it with her logic, practicality and quick-thinking. She didn’t wait for others to solve her problems for her – in fact she prevented her friends from stepping into traps in quite a few instances! Which brings me to the next point about Cia that I loved – her strong moral center. Cia knew the difference between right and wrong and she did her very best not to cross the line. Even when her competitors were cheating (or even killing) to gain advantage, Cia did not stoop to their level. Yet Charbonneau managed to bring us a character who wasn’t simply a goody-two-shoes – Cia was complex and imperfect without losing her morality.
- Tomas. I appreciated the fact that the love story in this book didn’t overshadow the rest of the plot. I liked Tomas and Cia together, and was definitely invested in their relationship, but that relationship wasn’t the most important element of the book. Still, I really liked Tomas and thought that he and Cia were a good match. I like that Tomas was already infatuated with Cia before the Testing ever began because that gave us a little big of a basis for the relationship that blossoms between them. I am interested to see where the next book will take us in Cia and Tomas’ relationship because there is a bit of a cliff-hanger where they are concerned (although not a completely traditional cliffhanger).
- The action and pacing. The Testing had excellent pacing – I read it in one day with no problem and was consistently drawn into the story. The book is filled with action and had me constantly wondering what the competitors would be facing next!