Purchase on Amazon: The Testing
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Book Description (From Amazon)
It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.
Watch the Book Trailer Now!
The Testing is a fantastic YA dystopian read that captured my interest from beginning to end. The setting is in the future, where the United States no longer exists due to The Seven Stages War. Now there is a new government in place that has divided the remainder of the population into colonies. In order to go on for higher education, students must be selected as a Testing Candidate. Malencia or Cia Vale is excited to be chosen, along with three fellow graduating students from Five Colonies to travel to the capitol of Tosu City to undergo the Testing process. Those who pass the four intensive parts of the Test are allowed to move forward and attend the university. The government has established the Testing in order to find the most qualified future leaders of the country.
As Cia prepares to leave home, a disturbing conversation with her father puts her on alert. Cia’s dad underwent The Testing years ago, although he no longer retains any memories of what happened during the testing process. His memories were erased. Apparently, this is done to prevent any one candidate from having an edge over the other. However, CIa’s father admits that over the years, he has had haunting dreams about experiences he doesn’t recall, but thinks these are memories that weren’t completely erased and are subconsciously submerging. He gives Cia the ominous warning to trust no one.
Cia is an admirable heroine in this story. She is remarkably intelligent, observant, and resourceful as she struggles to advance to each level of Testing after realizing the seemingly innocuous Test is anything but safe. More importantly, unlike some other candidates , Cia refuses to sacrifice her humanity and compassion for others in order to achieve success. She and former classmate Tomas Endress decide to work as partners as much as possible to support each other in completing the tests. The Testing Officials have created an environment in which the competition is deadly, and sabotage is just part of this sinister endeavor to weed out the weak. Those who admit weakness or seek out help, never return. Those who fail at each level of the test are never seen again.
There are some parallels to The Hunger Games, and I couldn’t help but to be reminded of this during the field component of the Test, where each person is given a choice of weapons and supplies to help them as they are dropped off in the wilderness and forced to survive the harsh terrain as well protect themselves against candidates who are seeking to eliminate their competition. However, this story has its own unique storyline that is equally engaging.
Throughout the story, Cia was never sure who she could trust, and as the plot progresses, she finds herself second-guessing her choices, as do readers. During the field test, Cia and Tomas work together to find their way back to the capitol city. In the midst of the danger that surrounds them, their attraction deepens into a romance. Tomas seems like a great guy for Cia, but after the test is over, she discovers secrets that Tomas has been keeping from her. Is he as trustworthy as she thinks?
The cliff-hanger ending was foreshadowed earlier in the story, but, nevertheless, the outcome shocks Cia and will have a significant impact on what she decides to do next. The governmental system is strict, but will Cia be able to follow her destined path? I look forward to the sequel, The Testing: Independent Study.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author
(From Goodreads Profile)
I am a storyteller at heart. I have performed in a variety of operas, musical theatre and children’s theatre productions across the Chicagoland area.
While I’m happy to perform for an audience, I am equally delighted to teach private voice lessons and use my experience from the stage to create compelling characters on the page. I am the author of the Rebecca Robbins mystery series (Minotaur Books), The Paige Marshall Glee Club mysteries (Berkley) and The Testing YA triology (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
An ePrequel to The Testing: The Testing Guide