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3.8 8
Young Adult Fiction 1614
Scratches that Dystopian Itch
Overall rating
Writing Style
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Now I know the dystopian trend in YA is on the downswing, but sometimes I just crave reading a book about a totalitarian government ruining the lives of an energetic protagonist and her family after the world as we know it was destroyed by nuclear war in the not-too-distant future. Thankfully for me, Joelle Charbonneau’s “The Testing” scratched that dystopian itch.

“The Testing” follows Cia in the days after she graduates from school. The socialist-like society she lives in has a rule that only those graduates who get to go to college are those who are selected for The Testing. This four-stage test has been established to prove candidates’ worthiness to attend the University, and ultimately become the next generation of leaders. Cia is one of the lucky few selected for The Testing, and as we follow her along her Testing journey, we realize that she might not be so lucky after all.

What makes “The Testing” stand out from other dystopian offerings is that the contenders’ end goal in The Testing is not food, water, or overthrowing the government. Instead, they are all fighting for an education. By attending the University, people in Cia’s world are essentially guaranteed money and status for the rest of their lives. This motivation to participate in The Testing seems reminiscent to the goals and struggles college students are experiencing today. A college degree in our world opens the door to a multitude of options that are unavailable without that piece of paper, and I was impressed that Charbonneau could translate that reality into a dystopian novel aimed at teens who may be just about to enter the complicated world of higher education.

Throughout this brutal college admissions process, Charbonneau does a great job of acknowledging questions Cia’s challenges present about the society she lives in: Why can’t everyone get an equal shot at entering the University? Why is their so much mystery surrounding what goes on in The Testing among the society at large? Why are the test administrators so willing to put these teens through such brutality? As a warning to those diving into “The Testing,” all your questions are not going to be answered. However, Charbonneau solidly establishes the problems within the world she has created and gives us just enough answers to some of the questions that arise. Charbonneau has created the perfect mix of Q&A that gets readers hooked and ready to find out more about Cia’s struggles in Book 2.
Good Points
Solid dystopian novel for those disappointed that there are fewer dystopian options being introduced.
A cliffhanger that simultaneously feels like you haven't been cheated yet can't wait for more.
Highlights the value of higher education in our own world.
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August 04, 2013
I understand people being sick of dystopians since the market was flooded with them for a while, but it's been one of my favorite genres before I even knew it was a thing. I'm glad to hear there's another good dystopian out there. Looking forward to reading it :]
August 19, 2013
In reply to an earlier comment

I completely agree with you! I am such a sucker for dystopian. I love it so much! Give this book a read because it definitely meets all the requirements for dystopian.
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