In the series debut "The Testing," sixteen-year-old Cia Vale was chosen by the United Commonwealth government as one of the best and brightest graduates of all the colonies, and a promising leader in the effort to revitalize postwar civilization. In "Independent Study," Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas, and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers. Her attempts to expose the ugly truth behind the government’s murderous programs put her — and her loved ones — in a world of danger. But the future of the Commonwealth depends on her.
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“Independent Study” is Charbonneau’s follow-up to “The Testing.” In this sequel, Malencia “Cia” Vale begins her first year as a University student. Despite having her memory wiped after the horrific events of the Testing that got her into the school, Cia has a handy dandy recorder she hid away to fill herself in on the morbid challenges and their inevitable consequences that the University administrators forced Cia and her fellow higher ed hopefuls to endure. Turns out, Cia’s first year at school is just as dangerous as the admissions process that got her there.
I was so pleased that Charbonneau answered all of the questions I had at the end of “The Testing.” She doesn’t keep us hanging until the summer of next year when the final book of the trilogy comes out to know just why the Testing and its administrators have to be so brutal. Instead, she delivers their morbid justification, satiating that need to know what in the heck is going on with this murderous education system. Then, through a serious of new developments, fresh questions arise to be resolved in the finale.
What I liked about “Independent Study” is it almost felt like a diary of Cia’s first year at the University. The first half of the book has just as many life-threatening challenges as “The Testing,” and then Cia gets a little more pensive as to how she is going to move forward with her life. Cia is making constant observations as to the state of her nation and how she hopes to improve it. While this may feel a little slower than the action of “The Testing,” I think “Independent Study” offers just as many world building moments as the first book, leaving me solidly wanting to discover how Cia’s life will pan out in the final book of the trilogy.
Further develops the world of the United Commonwealth.
A surprise twist that leaves you ready for the finale.
Independent Study, as a sequel to The Testing, introduces us to the life on college in the Commonwealth described trough the narration of Cia. Connection I felt to Cia in The Testing, was quickly restored and, again, I was admiring her and cheering for her every step of the way. Cia is smart, resourceful, fair and geek – everything a good heroine in my opinion should be. And she’s so realistic – not always perfect, sometimes doubts herself, but never boring and determined to succeed.
"I don’t know if I am ready to be a leader or if I can stop the war that threatens all I love, but as I hurry up to my rooms and close the door behind me, I know I will do everything to keep the hope out of our country and those who struggled for it alive."
Since the testing for University was so deadly, I kinda expected that now the focus will be on studying and developing talents in the best candidates that were picked. But no, strangely, weird practice of exams that can have more serious consequences than failing the subject, continues. You wonder if they are even going to stop or there can be only one student/future leader left?
Surprisingly, I (again) believed in the whole concept of killing of the weakest candidates. Government officials and Cia have some great explanations about leadership and what’s expected from leaders. Here are just a couple of my favorite quotes about this subject:
- "Because sometimes the best leaders are the ones who have no interest in leading. Those are often the ones who are most interested in doing what is right, not what is popular."
- "Those who depend fully on another person’s knowledge to decide what is possible are easily manipulated. The most effective leaders utilize experts from all fields, but rely on none when it comes to making a decision."
- "Leaders – reals leaders – must think of others before themselves. They need to consider the consequences of their actions and only sacrifice lives when the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few."
Although, the plot of Independent Study was not much different than The Testing, as I expected, still it was thrilling ride full of action, tough decision and surprises. I am eagerly waiting for Graduation Day!
IN THE END…
In The Testing series, Joelle Charbonneau offers us a glorification of hard work, compassion and good leadership. For all young adult dystopian fans who like their heroines smart, resourceful and fighting against government, this is a must read!
Disclaimer: I was given a free eBook by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a honest review.