Feeling dystopian withdrawal after The Hunger Games and Divergent series ended? Look now further than The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Age group: young adult
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Cia Vale wants nothing more than to qualify for The Testing, a series of tests that allow only a chosen few to study at the University. Those who pass will study to be the leaders for the United Commonwealth. They must revitalize the planet after much of it was destroyed during the Seven Stages War. However, finding out she’s qualified for the Testing turns out to be not such great news. Cia’s father (who had also passed the Testing and studied at the University) reveals that being chosen for the Testing isn’t such a great honor after all. In fact, it’s the last thing he would have wished for his only daughter.
Fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent will really like this book. It’s the first in a trilogy. (The last book just came out so you can read right through them if you want.) Like the other two series, there is definitely some violence in the book, but the main character tries to live by the morals she was taught as a child. Cia isn’t interested in “taking out” her competition during the Testing, but other candidates aren’t as morally attuned. Like Katniss in The Hunger Games, we see Cia care for a fallen comrade. Ms. Charbonneau did a nice job making Cia a character we can empathize with as she struggles with making ethical choices.
In terms of plot, Ms. Charbonneau hits all the right notes for this dystopian. The tension is great. It’s not as full-on tense as The Hunger Games (which I was thankful for because too much constant tension is tiring to me as a reader), yet there was enough tension that the plot is driven forward (I felt Divergent didn’t always keep the plot moving forward as much as it could have). This book hit the right mix.
I have a lot on my summer reading list, but I do look forward to reading the rest of the series in the near future.