Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

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 in 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(from Goodreads)

Flo's Review
Okay, you may not remember this, but once upon a time the Book Nerds all read Die for Me by Amy Plum. While the other 3 raved about it, I had issues because I felt like it was trying to be Twilight. But I liked the story enough to read on, and the second book in the trilogy, If I Should Die, was distinct, unique, and amazing. I loved it. This is exactly how I feel about The Testing. Basically, this book was trying to be The Hunger Games. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. But that's because I liked The Hunger Games. I think if you liked The Hunger Games, you'll like this one. If you didn't like The Hunger Games, you won't like this one. Let me give you some examples...

Cia, the main character, reminds me a lot of Katniss in the way that her mind works when she's figuring out the people around her and trying to stay atop of her situation. Seriously. Going through Cia's thought processes during her challenges, I felt like I was in Katniss' head in the arena. The one difference between them, to me, is that while Katniss is not very trusting, Cia is too trusting.

Tomas is the boy from Cia's colony. (A colony, is case you're wondering, is basically is the same thing as a district in the Hunger Games. Both are dystopian North America, both basically organized by their livelihoods, and in the case of Cia's colony (Five Lakes) and Katniss district (12), both are outer dwellings that the Capitol (Hunger Games)/Tsou City (Testing) tend to not think that highly of.) But back to Tomas. He is a boy from Cia's colony who is nice to everyone and everyone generally likes. He also gets chosen for the Testing, and while he and Cia aren't together before they both leave Five Lakes, they end up being a couple. Needless to say, Tomas reminded me of Peeta and he and Cia reminded me of Peeta and Katniss. The difference here is that I felt like Tomas and Cia's love story was way too rushed. I know that extreme circumstances beget extreme emotions, but I'm pretty sure they have only been hanging out together for about a week or maybe two when they professed their undying love for each other.

Cia discovers pretty quickly that the Testing candidates are being watched at all times. This leads to Cia and Tomas "acting" and saying things to increase their own and their friends' likability. Not to mention, Cia has an unfortunate run in with genetic mutts during the story as well. I'll stop there with the Hunger Games comparisons because I don't want to get spoilery with this book, but the comparisons don't stop there. The Testing is brutal and heart-breaking because of the same reasons that The Hunger Games is.

This leads me to a larger we have a new "formula"? Like, you know how some books basically follow a formula and are somewhat predictable because of it, but you read them and like them anyway because they are entertaining? I don't just mean genre -- I have been telling people for awhile now that my favorite type of books are "YA dystopian." I mean formula, like you have this setting, and then this happens, it leads to this, here's the final showdown, and end book. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

As for The Testing, it comes out June 4th. I grabbed my copy from Netgalley. If you liked the story of Hunger Games, you'll like The Testing. So check it out. As for me, I am looking forward to the next book The Testing: Independent Study, because I am hoping it will pull an Amy Plum and turn The Testing into a unique and interesting story of its own.

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