Source: Houghton Mifflin Books/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation.
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books
Series: The Testing #1
Edition: EGalley, 336 pages
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Purchase: Amazon/ Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
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.
The Testing takes place in a war torn and rather barren world, more specifically what was formerly known as the United States. The earth is contaminated and the people must strive for the very best to survive in such an unforgiven place. Charbonneau’s writing style weaves a detailed picture of the not only the surroundings but also the background, where she takes the time to explain why things are so broken. Which is something that I personally appreciated because so many dystopians will mention the catalyst for change but will never truly give any details.
I feel it is necessary to go ahead and get this particular part out of the way because I’m sure most are wondering. Yes, there are similarities to The Hunger Games. However even with that in mind i feel it is worth being recognized as its own story. It’s wonderfully written, the plot is one that held my attention and pulled me in, and the characters are worth investing in. I think if someone can put the similarities on the shelf they will find that it’s quite unique and far more detailed in all aspects.
Malencia Vale, our narrator, is a bright and resourceful sixteen year old. She has high hopes for her future but she is tested beyond anything she could have imagined and it forces her to become more. I really enjoyed Cia and while it was heartbreaking at times I enjoyed seeing her grow as a person in response to everything she faces. She’s strong and capable of seeing things others can’t, but she is also a caring and trusting person. The side characters also get just treatment and are slowly fleshed out as Cia gets to know them better over the course of the Testing. I love the fact that we only get to know what she knows, it really drives the suspense up and had me on the edge of my seat at times. There are still a lot of things I want to know about some of them though and I really hope we get to find out the answers to a few nagging questions in book two.
The few issues I had all revolved around what is and is not realistic, or at least in my personal opinion. However given that the writing is wonderful and that the world building is actually pretty good, I was more than willing to set that aside and enjoy the story for what it is. This turned out to be a solid YA debut for Charbonneau and I can definitely see this being a strong series as well. Even though the release date is a long way away I’m definitely looking forward to Independent Study, book two, to see how things fare with Cia and the others.
I received the book in exchange for an honest review.