I just have to start off with saying this: This is not another Hunger Games. I see a lot of reviews complaining about how similar this book is to The Hunger Games and how this is just a copy. Yes, these books are very similar to one another (especially the last half), but there are more differences. And it is a dystopian book. Every dystopian book has something in common with The Hunger Games, it happens.
Anyway, now that I got that out of the way! I'm actually writing this book after reading this for the 2nd time and I still enjoyed reading this book the 2nd time around! This book is well-written and definitely original!
I was very fascinated with The Testing, I thought it was horrible what society was doing to these teens , but I thought that the idea was very interesting and very well thought-out. I really liked out main character, Cia. It is very obvious why she's in The Testing. She's an absolute genius and can figure problems out. She's also a very strong leader. Not the kind that The Testing is looking for, as they are looking for those who do not care for human life, but she is the kind of leader that should actually lead.
The only issue that I had was the romance. It's not bad, I actually like the love interest, but I found it a bit ridiculous. I honestly felt like The Testing was not the time for romance.
This book is kind of a hit or miss for most people, to be honest. Like I said, many people complain about Hunger Games parallels and those people don't enjoy the book. My advice: Do not compare this book while reading it. It will ruin the experience for you.
Now, I, enjoyed reading this book (again!) and will definitely continue the trilogy! That was actually the whole point of me rereading this...
I received The Testing in exchange for an honest review.
I wasn't entirely sure of what to think when I picked up The Testing. Now that I've finished reading it I further wonder how people can possibly enjoy The Hunger Games so much when books like this are out there.
Cia Vale, the main character of The Testing, was amazing. Not many authors seem to be capable of creating such likable characters who aren't heavily conceited or shallow and boy crazy. I always find it a relief to find a book where the romantic interest doesn't save the heroine at every turn. It makes books that could have been amazing dull when that kind of thing is always happening.
Tomas was also a likable character I really appreciated how he didn't protect or rely on Cia too much. That kind of behavior has often made me drop a book like it was on fire in the past.
Not Any Kind of Test You Would Actually Want to Take
Malencia "Cia" Vale lives in a small community with her loving family, and she's rapidly approaching graduation from school and adulthood. She's a clever, smart girl with some skill for mechanics, and she would like to be chosen for the Testing, which, if she passed, would put her on the path to becoming a leader in her post-apocalyptic world. The United Commonwealth runs the show in Cia's world, and no one from her community had been chosen for the Testing in many years. Her father has actually gone through the process, but he doesn't talk about it, probably because he can't really remember what happened. After the Testing, everyone's memories of what happened during the process are wiped, though he does sometimes get haunting nightmares. With the knowledge that the Testing may be even harder and more sinister than she expected, Cia is selected and sent off to magnificent Tosu City. The Testing is brutal and cruel and death and sabotage are common. As she maneuvers through the Testing, she gains and loses allies and enemies and even sparks a romance with a fellow candidate. The Testing is a book that fans of dystopians will probably enjoy. Definitely a trilogy to look out for, and it could easily be turned into a film or TV adaptation. Thank you, Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for giving me the galley for this book!
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: YA Dystopia
Format: Digital ARC
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Recommended Reading: 14+
Contains no spoilers.
Received free copy in exchange for an honest review.
OVERALL THOUGHTS: The Testing may have arrived a little too late to be as “epic” as the premise’s potential for greatness could have allowed. I can’t deny it: the elephant in the room is The Hunger Games, and to a degree, even Divergent and Matched. Alas, it’s difficult to stand out in the world of dystopia, which is why it’s a dying genre (some say it’s already dead, but I disagree). Having said all that, this was a really good book. A few small things bothered me, but nothing I couldn’t overlook, and I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel.
SYNOPSIS: 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.
BREAKDOWN: The Testing follows sixteen year old, Cia Vale. Much like her dystopian counterpart Katniss, Cia is thrown into a cruel and dangerous scenario that calls into question the pure cruelty of the powers that be in her society. She plays along out of sheer survival instinct, all the while developing a new found disgust and indignation toward her government. The similarities don’t necessarily end there, but the rest I’ll chalk up to being ‘reminiscent’ of Hunger Games and not an outright copycat. Truly, the author definitely created her own world in which it was easy to follow Cia’s journey and really care for her outcome.
As far as writing style, the piece felt a little less mature than some of the other dystopian novels out there. I didn’t mind that so much as the fact that the clues and foreshadowing were a tiny bit heavy-handed, as was some of the world building. Cia happened to have a lot of random skills that were just a little too convenient for my taste, but hey, she sure got the job done. All of that is nitpicking, so I’ll move on to the good stuff.
Cia was easy to connect and identify with. She was smart, capable, and endearing, albeit naïve. Cia’s country was pretty interesting, though reminiscent of Ally Condie’s Matched. It’s very obvious that the author, Charbonneau, put a lot of background work into developing The United Commonwealth and it’s fictional alternate history as the former United States. I would imagine there is much more in her notes than made it into the book, which is a great thing because it’s clearly so developed. I could’ve used a little less of that background being shared in such large chunks, but that may just be my personal taste.
The storyline itself is inventive, and certainly held my interest quite well. I was entertained and excited to see what was next. I was happy to see how Cia’s character developed, though she was the only character that did seem to develop at all. But I liked her, so I enjoyed reading her journey. It was not the type of book that gripped my heart, but it was entertaining, and I liked it a lot.
The Testing certainly had its violent moments, but nothing I felt was too gruesome. And the romance was definitely nothing I’m concerned for young readers to witness, as it was pretty innocent. I wish there were something I could rave about, but there was no individual thing I loved about this book. It was simply a good read that I’ll look forward to continuing to follow when the sequel becomes available.
Imagine that The Hunger Games and Divergent series got together and had a baby. That was what The Testing was like. It was a smashup of everything you enjoyed from Tris/Four and Katniss/Peeta with a bit of newness to keep things fresh.
Right away you will notice similarities. They are undeniable. Dystopian setting, factions ("colonies" this time around), special skills, select kids fighting it out until the bitter end, corrupt government, etc. You get the picture. As I was reading, it was hard not to think about the other books because so many things reminded me of them. To be honest, at times I was tired of reading because it felt old.
Luckily, there were a few differences that kept this from feeling too stale and repetitive. First, Cia is different. She is not fierce like Katniss and Tris. She is a thinker with a compassionate side. Her inner instincts are not to kill or fight to the bitter death. As you can imagine, that makes her situation very different. Her love interest, Tomas, is very different as well. He has the devotion of Peeta and the secrets of Four. He's not as moody, but there is something different about him. Unfortunately, you really don't discover what it is in The Testing. You'll have to read book two!
Another difference to this "game" or test that the characters are facing is pretty solid. There is an academic element to the selection process. The purpose of the testing reminds me of the factions in Divergent, but I can see how things will be different as the story plays out.
I was also glad to see the world building in this one. The land has been ravished by mankind. Four years of physical war was followed by three years of war by natural elements. After the Seven Stages of War, everything is destroyed and it's not coming back any time soon. The land cannot sustain life and the radiation from nuclear blasts have left many things mutated and dangerous. The perils the University candidates face during their testing is intense.
I thought the writing of The Testing was solid. It was descriptive and detailed. The finer points of the plot were well thought out and executed flawlessly. Unfortunately, I still thought about The Hunger Games and Divergent/Insurgent as I read. If I had not read those series, this would be fantastic. I would be singing its praises of originality and uniqueness. But, instead of being original it came across more as a mash up of the other books, which took away from my response. I still enjoyed it, and I certainly want to read the other books. I hope they become more unique as the story continues to make this another strong contender in the dystopian genre.