Publication date: 4 June 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Category: Young Adult Dystopian
Keywords: Futuristic, survivalism, young love
Format: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Source: e-ARC received from Netgalley
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one and the same?
The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.
You won't be able to help but think about The Hunger Games and constantly compare The Testing against it as you read, assuming you are one of the millions of people who have read the book and/or seen the movie. This really worried me as I scanned the first few pages. Could this new novel even hold a candle to Suzanne Collins's heart-wrenching runaway hit?
There are a few notable differences between the two series which I appreciate very much. As brutal as the tests may get, there is an inherent hopefulness in The Testing, brought forth by Cia's loving upbringing and her desire to help others despite her father's whispered warnings. Indeed, the secondary characters are complex--revealing new facets at every turn and sure to provoke conversation about heroes, villains, and the gray area in between that most humans occupy. Finally, and most important of all, the parts of this trilogy are spaced six months apart. No more waiting years to finish a series--we'll get it all in one, this time!
Though Charbonneau drags her heroine feet-first through Mary Sue territory, Cia can still give The Girl on Fire a run for her money. She's likable and tough, practical and smart. There's no love triangle, unless you can count the niggling feeling that clever, handsome Tomas isn't all he seems to be. I'm not sure whether it's the straightforward language or Cia's level-headedness which stops this book from being too maudlin. Something utilitarian about this book's tone stops me just short of tears; that, I'd have to say, is its biggest weakness.
*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.
Visit the author online at www.joellecharbonneau.com and follow her on Twitter @jcharbonneau
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