REVIEW: The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

Genre: YA Apocalyptic / Dystopian Fiction
Pages: 325 (hardcover)
Reading Level: Easy
Rating: 3 / 5

Summary from Goodreads

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.

I was underwhelmed.

This is a cross between The Hunger Games, Divergent and The Scorch Trials. That’s not to say it’s not entertaining; it’s just that half the book reads more than coincidentally like these other stories.

I have often wished it was possible to read and listen to a book for the first time, which is obviously not possible. I wonder if I would have reacted differently if I had read the book rather than listened to it. I wasn’t impressed with the narrator. That may have something to do with the fact that I listened to the Undead and Unwed series right before this one and the narrator for Undead is phenomenal. Elizabeth Morton is not horrible but her narration was unimpressive.

After a war ravages the country and the environment imposes its punishment for the crimes of humans, all of which we get very little detail, certain areas are rebuilt with varying success. Some children from the graduating class are selected for The Testing, the process by which the country’s leaders are selected, leaders that will be instrumental in rebuilding the rest of the country. Not all candidates pass The Testing and regardless of whether a candidate passes or fails, they never return to their area; those who fail are never seen again. In addition, those who pass The Testing don’t remember any of it.

When the consequences of failure are revealed, The Testing takes on a whole new meaning and it becomes clear that making it to University is not the most crucial reason to pass.

There can be some good discussion questions found in this book. Are the best leaders those who don’t want to be a leader? What does it take to be a leader? Do the ends justify the means?

All in all, it’s an entertaining read with some good quotes. I enjoyed it and will finish the series.

Review by Christina
May 25, 2017

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