Released this past summer, The Testing will be follow-ed up in January by Independent Study.
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
June 4, 2013
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
The Testing seems a bit like if Divergent and The Hunger Games put in a blender but the more you read, the more the story draws you in and the more it becomes its own tale.
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.Malencia "Cia" Vale is nervous approaching her graduation, but also hoping to be chosen for the Testing. As a Testing candidate she'll be able to prove herself through the tests, become a University student if she succeeds and one of the United Commonwealth's future leaders.
It's when she is chosen as a candidate, though, that things seem less clear cut. On the night of her departure, her father shares with her secrets of his past, secrets that hint the Testing may not be the great hope, Cia seems it as. His advice: trust no one.
Tomas, her childhood friend and fellow candidate seems like someone for whom her father's advice need not apply. He's someone that Cia begins to care for more and more as each day of the Testing --every grueling (if not also deadly) minute -- passes. Whether she's right to trust Tomas, to trust someone is something she'll have to decide . . . while trying to pass the Testing.
The Testing is a great concept that seems very well executed. Some of it bears similarities to The Hunger Games -- the central government, the outlying colonies and the teens chosen to participate. There are some differences that makes this an original story definitely worth reading. Cia's not only hoping to be chosen, she sees the Testing as a privilege. Being a Testing candidate is seen as an honor, despite what actually happens not being known.
Cia is a fantastic character for the novel to revolve around. She's insightful, smart and imaginative. Her reactions serve both her and the story very well, right from the start. She's not a character that leaves you frustrated with her choices, nor does she make decisions that are too perfect. The rationale behind what she does is easy to see and understand while also being commendable and moving the plot along.
Things about the Testing, the officials, the candidates, even Cia herself are revealed through Cia's observations. While she is able to take in a lot about her surroundings and make what seems like appropriate choices -- or retain the information for later use -- Cia does not come across as a detached, scientific character.
Its her reactions to those same observations, to all of those things Cia notices that not everyone else notices, that are some of what help create an emotional connection with her character. Even as she seems calculated taking everything in Charbonneau is balancing Cia's head and her heart. To the extent that Cia can safely to do so.
There are some definite twists involving some of the secondary characters, some of which are more expected than others. The balance during the Testing of finding out about the characters and, well, their character along with finding out about the Commonwealth and what the country is now like was great. I'm only hoping for more of that in Independent Study.
thank you to NetGalley and publisher for egalley for review