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The Testing (The Testing #1)

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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 and 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 coll 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 and 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 honoured 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 gruelling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.


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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 and 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 coll 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 and 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 honoured 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 gruelling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

30 review for The Testing (The Testing #1)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mitch

    I think I’ve read The Testing at least four different times in the past year - without actually ever having heard of this book. With the success of The Hunger Games, every new dystopian - and gosh darn it there are so many of them now - is being marketed as The Hunger Games meets this or The Hunger Games meets that, but never in a million years would I have suspected I’d read one so blatantly unoriginal that it’s not The Hunger Games meets anything, it’s just The Hunger Games - rehashed, ripped I think I’ve read The Testing at least four different times in the past year - without actually ever having heard of this book. With the success of The Hunger Games, every new dystopian - and gosh darn it there are so many of them now - is being marketed as The Hunger Games meets this or The Hunger Games meets that, but never in a million years would I have suspected I’d read one so blatantly unoriginal that it’s not The Hunger Games meets anything, it’s just The Hunger Games - rehashed, ripped off, whatever. So rather than wasting my breath critiquing this clone, allow me to introduce to you to what I like to call how to write a cookie cutter Hunger Games style knockoff in four easy steps, no EasyBake oven required. Step One - The Generic Dystopian Landscape This one is simple. Have a bunch of bombastic sounding nation states with slightly futuristic names blow each other up for no apparent reason other than that this needs to happen in a postapocalypticish setting. Cue nuclear slash biochemical world war followed by unexplained natural catastrophes, leading to people living in generally hardscrabble conditions. Set this shit in one such overtaxed small town, where people live in general squalor but still have the time and materials to make and enjoy ice cream of all things, because when potable water and electricity are everyday concerns, dairy farms and refrigeration can magically ignore the rules of this world. Mix and match various technologies like crossbows, guns, and hovercars and hope the people reading this haven’t passed one of those logic exams where you’re presented with a list of things and asked to pick out the one that doesn’t belong. Oh, and randomly sprinkle in dangerous feral mutants, both animals and human, for added effect. Step Two - The Derivative Dystopian Government Basically, big brother is watching. They know what’s good for you, even when you don’t. Even when you think they’re cruel, heartless SOBs - especially when you think they’re cruel, heartless SOBs. Just don't tell any of that to the people lurking around fomenting rebellion. Why are they doing any of this again? Step Three - The Hackneyed Battle Royale-Style Elimination Competition Because killing off three quarters of your most promising citizens is such a great way of rebuilding society. Because blithely standing by while someone is twitching on the floor bleeding out from a nail in the eye is great not just for dramatic effect but to show those little shits who's boss. Because sending everyone off into the dystopian wilderness to duke it out and kill each other in a survival of the fittest style test hasn’t been done to death before. Because all the crossbow firing, gun shooting, knife fighting, mutant attacking survivalist stuff will make up for the otherwise complete lack of a plot. Because using stock characters like the complete jerk or the good guy who’s really a bad guy can convince people that this is some wholly original epic where loyalties are tested and bonds forged. Oh, and because doing all of this somehow adds something new to the dystopian genre (hint: it doesn't). Step Four - The Shallow Romance, Because We Gotta Have Romance Handsome. Dimple. Same home town. No hints of a prior relationship, but they’ll trust each other anyway. Some light kissing, just because. Until he maybe possibly does something untrustworthy, but who knows? Did I mention the dimple? And with that, you too can write a Hunger Games knockoff just like The Testing. Just remember to give all the characters random, futuristic sounding names and don't get into the specifics of anything, that’ll just get in the way of the story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    I loved this book! An amazing dystopian novel that is very realistic and believable. One of the best heroines I have read about in recent years. and a world that, while devastated, is one I almost wish I could visit to see what it it like. Lucky for readers, Joelle Charbonneau does a wonderful job in her deliverance of this world to us. This book is a first person novel from the view of Cia. Cia is a young teen who is specially selected to join in The Testing. The Testing is about selecting futu I loved this book! An amazing dystopian novel that is very realistic and believable. One of the best heroines I have read about in recent years. and a world that, while devastated, is one I almost wish I could visit to see what it it like. Lucky for readers, Joelle Charbonneau does a wonderful job in her deliverance of this world to us. This book is a first person novel from the view of Cia. Cia is a young teen who is specially selected to join in The Testing. The Testing is about selecting future world leaders or specialists of various fields. Cia's father was previously chosen and warns Cia that things may not be as they seem. Cia is a smart young woman. One of the best and well-written characters is YA fiction I have read. Down to earth, smart, compassionate, high sense or morals, dignity and more. She is not all powerful, super-strong, etc. She is your everyday person who has faith in herself. She is helpful to others yet not naive enough to trust others. She is very observant. This simplistic seeming skills are what has her standing apart from the crowd. The imagery of this story leaves you feeling how real this world is. You can tell that this is still the US that the story takes place in. We get to see what Chicago is like in the story. We have war ravenged mutants, loss of civilization, loss of plant life, water and more and it is very well laid before us exactly to really live in Cia's reality. The world is fighting hard to correct itself. Signs of hope are everywhere yet government lords over everything with an iron grip. While Cia makes friends, and confronts other less-than-friends, Thomas is her main constant. There is an element of romance in this book but not over the top. Although it never quite feels very real either. The main story line of the test, and Cia's goals and hope are still the focus. The pace is very consistent. There is a LOT happening in this book, but it is not overwhelmingly done. The personality and style of writing is amazing! Conspiracy, survival, friendship and more collide in the spectacular novel! Great quote from the book that helps set the stage: “Things don't always work out the way we hope. You just have to pick yourself up and find a new direction to go in.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    Why haven't I heard more about this book? I started this book this morning and didn't put it down. Even when I had things to do I carried it with me. That's my test for a great read. The Seven Stages of War have happened and it's left our world in pretty much shambles. There are some communities that have started the rebuilding process and then we have the Testing. The Testing is when the students finish their schooling, they may stand a chance of being called for the Testing and it's their only Why haven't I heard more about this book? I started this book this morning and didn't put it down. Even when I had things to do I carried it with me. That's my test for a great read. The Seven Stages of War have happened and it's left our world in pretty much shambles. There are some communities that have started the rebuilding process and then we have the Testing. The Testing is when the students finish their schooling, they may stand a chance of being called for the Testing and it's their only way of furthering their education. Cia actually wants that. Then her father pulls her aside on the night that she learns that she is being sent to the testing facility. He tells her Be careful who you trust, Cia. You do that and everything will be okay. Cia is joined in the Testing by several fellow students from home, including Tomas, she hopes she can trust him of all people. Now some tiny bits of romance do bloom between the two of them but not enough that annoyed me. Cia is too strong a character for that. I have to wonder if Will isn't correct. Not about keeping me to himself. Tomas knows this isn't the time or place for romantic drama. Survival-passing this test-has to take precedence. Hells yeah! Then we have the Testing. This book has been compared by some reviewers as a ripoff/clone of the Hunger Games. I don't give a damn. This book can stand it's own. It's done well and the testing is a fresh view. I LOVED IT. I've stepped away from some other books that I felt like were just rip-offs of popular books but dang..... Funny, but giving up is the last thing I will do. Not after everything we have witnessed and the things we have been forced to do. Giving up would be like admitting none of it mattered. And it needs to matter. It needs to be remembered. Now when my husband gets home in a few minutes and asked what I did all day. I may smack him and say: Just because.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

    I'm still staggering a little from reading this book, but in the very best way. I don't even know how I will formulate a reasonable review without resorting to squealing "OH MY GOD YOU GUISE THIS IS SO GOOD READ IT NOW." But here goes nothing. YA dystopian is an incredibly difficult category to write, it seems. So many books have attempted to create a likeable, believable character in a well-built, post-apocalyptic, post-infection, or post-war setting. Most have failed, and failed spectacularly. I'm still staggering a little from reading this book, but in the very best way. I don't even know how I will formulate a reasonable review without resorting to squealing "OH MY GOD YOU GUISE THIS IS SO GOOD READ IT NOW." But here goes nothing. YA dystopian is an incredibly difficult category to write, it seems. So many books have attempted to create a likeable, believable character in a well-built, post-apocalyptic, post-infection, or post-war setting. Most have failed, and failed spectacularly. I have heard fellow reviewers compare this book to The Hunger Games and Divergent. I have not read The Hunger Games, although I do know of the premise and the storyline (thanks, Wikipedia). I didn't think I read Divergent but after checking my books, apparently, I did. It was just that forgettable. I'm not judging this book compared to either of these series, but on its own merits, and I can say that it is a damned good book, one of the best pieces of YA fiction that I have read this year. I was not bored for a single moment. As clichéd as it may sound, there is never a dull moment. Cia's first-person narrative is excellent; she is a complex, rational, highly likeable character, and I find myself loving her voice and her train of thought. The plot moves at a fast, but reasonable pace, and I never got lost for a single moment. The strengths of this book are many, but I will focus on the main character, the setting, and the premise, because I don't want this review to run to ten pages. Rest assured, everything else is well-done, from the most minor characters to the smallest details. The setting: the post-war United States is well-described and well-written. The setting is beautifully described, and I can see of no gaping inconsistencies of how the world came to be as it is in this book. We are given the background of the United States and how it became the United Commonwealth in the beginning of the book, interspersed with Cia's commentary as she recalls her knowledge during the test: Question: Explain the First Stage of the War of the Nations. Answer: The assassination of Prime Minister Chae, which fractured the Asian Alliance, sparked a power struggle among the other nations and a civil war. During the civil war, bombs were dropped on the Korean States, destroying most of the population and causing the meltdown of two nuclear reactors. The use of technology, the development of plants and hybridized crops, the rarity of water and how it came to be contaminated. The use of radiation and the subsequent mutation of creatures and soil. Everything was so well-explained, and the world in which this book is set is entirely realistic to me. Even more so is the bleak landscape of the former cities and landscapes, like Chicago and St. Louis, the devastated United States is starkly described in vivid, harsh details. Steel and rock. Glass and wood. Buildings broken and collapsed. Cars completely rusted and overturned. A layer of sooty grime covers it all. Here and there heartier plants are fighting to get beyond the rubble — yearning toward the sun. Vines cover the wreckage of broken cars and buildings. Trees that have been corrupted by the tainted earth but are determined to survive twist through the pieces of the broken city on their way to the sky. The mutated creatures are huge and terrifying, some human, but barely so. I would hesitate to call some zombies, but they have been so mutated by radiation as to lose most claims to humanity. One can barely distinguish a mutated human from an animal. Except for the eyes. Why is it always the eyes? Windows to the soul, my ass. The Test - The premise for the Testing is pretty well-done, but I found it a bit far-fetched that so few candidates are chosen every year out of so many. I know there are few survivors after the wars, but roughly twenty admitted to the University every year, with the rest conveniently eliminated (among the best and brightest, too) seems to not be the wisest choice. Still, as wobbly as the premise of the Testing is, at least it is consistent. Consistent in that people are always watching, weakness is a sign of failure, and every movement is analyzed. The Testing procedure and the history of it is frequently analyzed throughout the process by Cia and the students and by the end it is well-explained enough so that even if the idea is rather preposterous, the premise for such harsh testing procedures becomes more credible. It is the premise for everything, the cut-throat behaviors of the other Test-takers, Cia's single-minded determination. It turns into a massive mind-game, as well as a test of knowledge and practical skills, and is nothing if not absolutely thorough. Cheating is not encouraged, although sabotage and the killing of the competition appears to be acceptable. Weakness is not to be tolerated at any point. But why? Why are they looking for such cut-throat skills for their future leaders? "They can't possibly give someone a passing grade for shooting the competition. What kind of leader would that person be?" "A strong one. The Fourth Stage of war would never have happened if the president of the United States had attacked the Asian Alliance. Instead, he tried to broker a worldwide coalition even when his own advisers said it was useless. He was a pacifist when the country needed aggression." There we go. Forget Nelson Mandela. It looks like we needed a Kim Jong Un in the future. Malencia (Cia) Vale - I'm going to ramble a bit here because I love the main character so much. Cia is the main character in this book, it is her narrative that carries the book along, and she is my favorite thing about it. Cia has definitely earned her spot on my "kick-ass heroines" shelf. She is not a fluffy, frilly Mary Sue who is magically talented and brilliant and beautiful and sparklingly lovely (without knowing it!). Cia is fairly ordinary, but for her intelligence and work ethics. She pursues her studies seriously, she is curious, she has a thirst for knowledge. Cia is brilliant in school, having skipped a grade; despite being the youngest in her class, she excels academically. I love the fact that she is brilliant in the sciences, particularly botany with a side interest in engineering. There really needs to be more females like her in YA fiction, who is strongly interested in engineering, math, and sciences; females are already underrepresented in the sciences in the real world, there's no need to lighten their presence in fiction, too. Her family are all interested in the sciences, her father is a botany specialist, a University graduate himself who encourages learning among his daughter and sons. Unlike the many hard-knock protagonists we see, Cia has had a somewhat privileged background, as much as privilege can be defined in the harsh existence of a post-war world in a small farming colony. Her father is an important figure, he a botanist who has helped the colony develop and grow crops; this is particularly important in a world where resources and food are rare, and even soil and water are contaminated. Her life before the Testing is rich not in physical wealth, but in love and knowledge. Cia has grown up in a loving environment where learning is treasured and fostered; this has built her into the kind of character who is confident in her own knowledge and in herself, even if she is still unsure of herself and her future, as teenagers often are. "Are we smart enough? Can we outthink a system that has been in place for decades? That has controlled the lives of hundreds of the brightest minds since the world began to rebuild?" She has long hoped to attend University, or at least of being given a chance at University as a Testing candidate. Her dreams come true, but the Testing process turns out to be a nightmare. Cia is my favorite type of heroine. Strong, brilliant, rational, never bitchy or annoying, never doing anything without thinking it through. She has her moments of contradiction, but they are rare, and I felt her character was altogether consistent, complex, and well-developed throughout the book. She is not a girly character. This is not because she's opposed to it, but because it has had no place in her life. She grew up with four brothers, after all, and spent most of her time in the fields, learning about plants and engineering in a colony that's barely able to sustain itself. There's just no time for frivolities. She feels out of place with the other girls at the testing center, but her practicality proves to be a merit during the testing when her knowledge, her forethought, and even her rough and tumble clothes factors into survival. She is such a good thinker, a clear thinker. Her skills for survival consistently impresses me, and her actions are never erratic or out of step with her situation. Once she knows what she is getting into, she is single-minded in her mission to survive the Testing. Cia observes everything, from hidden cameras, to hidden mechanisms, and the way she thinks through the analytical and practical problems on her test was a joy to read. "The first problem is mathematical — a one dimensional heat equation to determine the flow of heat in a rod where everything but the ends are insulated. These are equations I have used often and make me smile as I get to work." I cheered for her through every step of the testing. I loved her strength and determination through all the travails she endures during the grueling Testing process. Some may feel she is cold, her reactions are heartless; I don't believe that to be true. She may suffer, but she knows people are always watching. The Test is a test for weakness overall, and Cia is driven for survival. Failing the Test is literally disastrous. She needs to survive, she needs to put sentimentality aside to get through the most difficult situations of her life. Cia is not a perfect character, in some situations, I felt that she was contradictory. For example, a fellow Test-taker is severely injured and Cia wants to come to his aid, but she knows she cannot. "A scream builds inside me, fights to get past my clenched throat, but I make no sound...I barely hear the head Testing official talking to me. Asking me if I have completed my test. If not, I must return to my station. Otherwise, there is a risk I will receive assistance from observing another candidate's work. I want to scream that the test doesn't matter. Not when life is draining drop by drop onto the tile floor. But I choke out a yes, and I am released." She represses her emotions all through the testing process, barely enduring, but hanging on despite everything. Still, she is not heartless, she may show no emotions or any signs of weakness to the people watching, but inside she is much more vulnerable. She sits besides her injured friend anyway, "If he can see, he will recognize something of home. A girl who sang songs with him on the grass and asked him for help when she struggled with her homework. A girl who is his friend. Someone who can't imagine what will happen when he is gone." She is involved in a romantic relationship with Tomas, someone she has known and trusted her entire life. He is an entirely likeable character, kind, steady, reliable. "Despite his good looks and outgoing personality, Tomas has always been a quiet leader. He is always happy to help a neighbor or one of the younger students, and he does it in a way that does not ask for praise or payment in return. He's someone my father would be proud to have on his team." Her eventual involvement with Tomas comes as a result of repeated actions of trust and friendship, as they choose to trust and rely on each other in a hostile environment. It is not insta-love or tropey in the least, and I found their romance believable, even under the highly stressful circumstance. They are friends, first and foremost, and their friendship just develops over time into something deeper, rooted in mutual trust and admiration. As much as Cia likes him, she doesn't hesitate to call him out on unreasonable behavior when she sees it. "Try to act like the adults you're supposed to be while I'm busy keeping us all alive. If you can't handle that, you both deserve to fail this test and we all know what punishment that brings." Despite her strength, Cia is a kind, caring person, even if her softheartedness is a bit overreaching at times towards those who do not deserve her kindness or trust. The decisions she makes are sometimes contradictory to the survival-minded girl we have come to expect, but overall her character is mostly consistent, and she has become one of my favorite YA female protagonists. There is a subplot, there are backstabbers who you will not see coming, and there will be minor, but subtle hints given. I highly enjoyed guessing the whodunnit. With a book of this premise, we can guess what's going to happen in the end. With this in mind, I eagerly but fearfully anticipate the next book, since this book has been so excellent and filled with excitement that I can't see how the next book will meet my high expectations or at least come close to this first book in action or excitement. Nevertheless, I can't wait for 2014.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    It’s hard to review a book that made you feel nothing at all. I am an emotional reader, and although I sometimes make halfhearted attempts at objectivity, my reviews generally reflect my emotional reactions, just as it should be. But even though I raced through The Testing and found nothing wrong with it objectively speaking, it didn’t move me one way or the other. Sometimes, a seemingly flawless book can disappoint more than a severely flawed, yet heartfelt read. Cia’s world is textbook dystopi It’s hard to review a book that made you feel nothing at all. I am an emotional reader, and although I sometimes make halfhearted attempts at objectivity, my reviews generally reflect my emotional reactions, just as it should be. But even though I raced through The Testing and found nothing wrong with it objectively speaking, it didn’t move me one way or the other. Sometimes, a seemingly flawless book can disappoint more than a severely flawed, yet heartfelt read. Cia’s world is textbook dystopian; by which I mean that all the ingredients are there, almost as if Charbonneau followed a checklist: the wasteland, the ruins, the chemicals, the cruel, secretive government, imminent danger, mutated humans etc. Looking back, there were a few minor plot holes here and there, but nothing that couldn’t be overlooked if only the worldbulding seemed less artificial. As it was, I never felt excitement or dread, not even when Cia was running away from mutated humans through the city ruins. The romance started wonderfully, but it soon became apparent that it was written to satisfy the readers. I know how reviewers think and what bothers most of us, and I have a feeling Charbonneau does too. For the most part, Cia and Tomas’s relationship was smooth sailing, but they settled into it so comfortably that they never really convinced me. When a problem did come up between them, it was done hastily and unconvincingly, only to be swept under the rug. Cia has many great qualities – she is highly intelligent, resourceful and genuinely nice. Like the romance, she is exactly the type of protagonist that will satisfy most reviewers. She seems great in theory, but in reality she’s a bit plastic. All of them are underdeveloped, more archetypal then real, and several are taken directly from other books, with only the very basic information (like name and profession) changed. Even with all the ingredients there, I was not convinced, mostly because The Testing lacks the most important thing of all – heart. It is pretty, but it has no warmth; functional, but fairly emotionless. If there was ever a book that was written solely to satisfy the market, that was perhaps even packaged, it’s this one. In short, The Testing is the bastard child of The Hunger Games and Enclave, and as much as I love both those books, their illegitimate offspring holds no charm for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Aj the Ravenous Reader

    "Things don't always work out the way we hope. You just have to pick yourself up and find a new direction to go in." I have never made a proper review on this book when this is one of those that really deserves one so here’s an attempt to make one.^^ I usually find it unfair when readers would easily dismiss every single dystopian story written after the Hunger Games as exactly like the Hunger Games (HG). Although this may have similar patterns to that of the Classic HG, the Testing is an orig "Things don't always work out the way we hope. You just have to pick yourself up and find a new direction to go in." I have never made a proper review on this book when this is one of those that really deserves one so here’s an attempt to make one.^^ I usually find it unfair when readers would easily dismiss every single dystopian story written after the Hunger Games as exactly like the Hunger Games (HG). Although this may have similar patterns to that of the Classic HG, the Testing is an original and perhaps an even better story. The story is centered on Malencia Vale or simply called Cia, a normal young girl but who is very smart and passionate about knowledge and has always wanted to be part of the Testing which is a process where a few selected graduates from high schools from every city have to go through and pass series of tests in order to be admitted to the prestigious University of the United Commonwealth (a post apocalyptic version of U.S) to eventually become future leaders themselves. Just as she thought she won’t be chosen, a twist of fate gives Cia the greatest news that she is qualified to be one of the testing candidates after all. Little did she know that the fulfillment to her biggest dream is the biggest threat to her life all along. The plot begins a little slow during the first few chapters but the pace picks up and intensifies and I found myself drawn to every event of the story. The tests as Cia’s father warned her of aren’t the typical ones because not only do they require the candidate’s overall knowledge and skills, they also require her to carefully select which people she can trust. The different tests allowed Cia to develop as a character from an innocent, scared young girl to a very wise, determined candidate who despite other candidates’ awful means to pass the tests, is still willing to go by what is right. The best thing I love about her is her wisdom and intelligence. I really enjoyed reading how she cautiously goes through the tests and avoids losing not only her chance at the university but her life as well. The Testing is an awesome beginning to one of my most favorite dystopian trilogies and which I believe deserves more attention.^^

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: I'm less than impressed with "The Testing." It started off intriguing enough, but as the story continued, I think the quality of it devolved and I couldn't suspend my disbelief with respect to many elements that came across and unraveled at the seams as it continued on. The story did have some interesting points, but never came to fruition with them as the emotional quality of the story and characterizations missed their mark. Full review: I'm going to avoid direct comparisons wi Initial reaction: I'm less than impressed with "The Testing." It started off intriguing enough, but as the story continued, I think the quality of it devolved and I couldn't suspend my disbelief with respect to many elements that came across and unraveled at the seams as it continued on. The story did have some interesting points, but never came to fruition with them as the emotional quality of the story and characterizations missed their mark. Full review: I'm going to avoid direct comparisons with other young adult dystopian novels for the moment because while we could throw out some of the bigger titles in this genre and give side by side comparisons of similar functions, that really wasn't my problem with the narrative. I can take a story that has similar thematics or constructions just so as long as it maintains my suspense of disbelief, keeps me invested in the ovearching plot and characters, and gives me value in the ride I'm taking. Sadly, I thought "The Testing" had a very serious problem with emotional mismatch and stakes through the work. Perhaps not so much at the beginning, but certainly by a good measure towards the middle and end of the book. The story centers on Cia Vale, a young woman who has just graduated from school and is preparing for the next stage in her life. In this dystopian universe, selected students are "invited" to compete for spots at the University level called "The Testing." It's a procedure filled with dread for Cia's family, particularly when she's chosen and must leave them behind. Her father confesses that she should've never been chosen and gives her some ominous warnings about the process. Cia goes in thinking she's prepared, alongside friend and potential love interest. "The Testing" starts out being a series of evaluations (sort of like standardized tests), but then there are some given twists in the book that I'll admit I didn't see coming and intrigued me. The whole scene with the poisoned plants test - that was an interesting scenario. One false move, make mistakes, and you would be in a world of hurt from the consequences, if not dead. It's a test environment for extremes that kind of reminded me of a few games I played (In a way, I kind of started picturing in my mind that the Testing center looked a lot like the environment for "Portal" and "Portal 2" if anyone's played those games. And those games were fun.) Granted, there were other scenarios that didn't really pull me into the narrative because they were a little more difficult to believe in a controlled environment, but I didn't mind them as much because I realized this was an environment of extremes, and there were going to be test takers who it would be a matter of time before they were "eliminated". I liked the power struggles I saw, and I liked how Cia was perceptive enough to see other people gaming the system, even if I had a hard time believing that they would be so desperate to reach University in this environment based on the information given (it wasn't completely vetted out for motivation, I think. Parts of it I saw did work, but others were a little more sketchy.) It was when this environment moved to the field test, which had the students surviving in the wild and killing off each other, that the story started to unravel at the seams for me. What with Cia's love interest being more concerned about having his pants down in front of her and smiling pervishly about that...versus the branch impaled in his leg and bleeding internally. Priorities, man. Priorities. On a serious note, it was a little hard to believe, considering the focal points in this part of the story. The love interest scenario didn't really work because it was forced and the chemistry between the characters didn't feel natural. And when a certain betrayal comes into consideration, I didn't feel much for it because it felt like a plot point rather than a palpable deception. Granted, I had my suspicions and didn't see it coming, but the emotional weight didn't support it. I had a very difficult time connecting with the characters and their ultimate motivations behind the things they did. It has a lot of action, and it does keep the ball rolling in terms of not knowing what will happen, but it doesn't really give as much substantiated motivation or emotional weight as it could've done. The end of the novel punctuates an end that at first has some finality in a dark turn, but at the same time opens up a new possibility for events where Cia may regain something she has lost in the build up to that point. It's interesting, but I'll admit I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'd give the second book a go. I think those who like "Hunger Games", "Divergent," and focus more on the action dynamic may not have a problem with it, but it's a hard sell in some details with the way it prioritizes more minor pursuits than palpable, heightened states of duress and challenge. I'm on the fence at the moment about the sequel, but I think this could've been a better effort than it was, even with consideration of its derivative qualities. Overall score: 2/5 Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Grace (LovingDemBooks) Z.

    Buy this book HERE on Amazon or buy this book HERE on BookDepository with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIIPPING I received an finished copy of this book from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 2 of 5 stars (Please read my rating system further below). Click HERE to watch my review on my YouTube channel LovingDemBooks My rating system: (I do use half stars.) 5 - I do not use the 5 star. Not because a book might not be worthy, but beca Buy this book HERE on Amazon or buy this book HERE on BookDepository with FREE WORLDWIDE SHIIPPING I received an finished copy of this book from the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 2 of 5 stars (Please read my rating system further below). Click HERE to watch my review on my YouTube channel LovingDemBooks My rating system: (I do use half stars.) 5 - I do not use the 5 star. Not because a book might not be worthy, but because a book is never perfect. 4 - I loved it! There weren't too many flaws, and I had no trouble getting through it. (A 4 star rating is the highest rating I've ever given a book.) 3 - I enjoyed the book, but there we're flaws that made me enjoy it less. 2 - I finished the book, but there were too many flaws for me to enjoy it. 1 - I could not finish the book, and I probably did not finish it....

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    The dystopian phenomenon has really taken off, possibly rivaling the vampire craze. And of course, I'm a huge fan of the genre who loves just about every book. But never have I felt that one was a failed attempt to duplicate The Hunger Games. The selection process into the official contest, the rounds of training or in this case what felt like the pretest, the being thrown into an "arena" and going around killing to be among the survival of the fittest, the recording and monitoring system (what w The dystopian phenomenon has really taken off, possibly rivaling the vampire craze. And of course, I'm a huge fan of the genre who loves just about every book. But never have I felt that one was a failed attempt to duplicate The Hunger Games. The selection process into the official contest, the rounds of training or in this case what felt like the pretest, the being thrown into an "arena" and going around killing to be among the survival of the fittest, the recording and monitoring system (what was the point of those?), even the patterns of the romance. I've seen other books pick up a few elements here and there, but in this one, it was all too much. Only with this one, I wasn't too impressed. I was annoyed four chapters in when, after her father's warnings, Cia decided to spill out her secrets to someone who I wasn't sure I was ready to trust. And just when I was ready to yell at her for being so stupid, Charbonneau felt the need to give some justification for her actions. Only, I didn't buy it. I mean, come on now. (view spoiler)[I would have understood if they had been best friends forever. Or I would have been satisfied if Tomas has been the hot, popular guy that she's always been pinning for who's never noticed her before and this was her chance. Or maybe even somewhere in between. But for them to be somewhat close before, and she pulled away in the last couple of years? The whole situation is just so strange to me. And honestly, I found that I wasn't ever able to trust him - a point I will get back to. (hide spoiler)] The second thing was, the first half of the book dragged. Don't get me wrong, the tests themselves had potential to be interesting and what happened during them builds the story, but I was bored out of my mind. I honestly believed that half or even a third of that would have been sufficient. If I were to run the tests… (view spoiler)[The first round wouldn't have happened at all. I get that they were weeding out those who couldn't deal with pressure, but if you think from a logical point of view, they're in a future where poverty seems to be a huge problem, and how much money they are wasting - feeding the kids, staff to monitor them, things like room and power to operate the facility and even the supplies needed - it seems like really wasteful. Their lives leading up to this point, their school work, graduation - all of that should have been considered long ago. The second test, I thought was really necessary, although really, it was just the plant test that really had relevance to their adventures, especially since it contributes to them finding food later on. I thought the other portions of the test should have been highlighted more by Charbonneau, as they would be essential to the quests. I just felt she skimmed over those, whereas I wouldn't have mind if they had been separated and had been the different tests that led up to the final one. And while the third test was interesting enough to read, it was way too complicated for the task at hand. While it demonstrated what it needed to do, Charbonneau spent so much time setting it up, that I just found it hard to focus on the bigger picture when it came down to it. And I honestly think the team work they demonstrated or did not demonstrate in the final test showed that trait more than it did in the third. (hide spoiler)] Maybe I'm being harsh, but I was just ready for the action to start and for them to start running around and killing each other. Well, maybe not, but I was ready for the story to move along. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the second half. I mean, traveling through the unknown (even though it's more of a set up) and overcoming the challenges that face them - the makings of a story that really interests me. I will say though, that it wasn't too different from many of the other dystopian books I have read, especially ones with game-like competition, namely, The Hunger Games. The similarities there are just too obviously blatant. However, I do not like the attempt at establishing a plot around the candidates being monitored. This is an element that's been appearing in more contest-like dystopian books lately. And you assume that they're being monitored for testing purposes, but it seemed kind of pointless for the amount of effort that Charbonneau put into drawing our attention to the cameras and recorders. I mean, there was no audience watching for entertainment or there were now playbacks at the end where the moderators question what a candidate was thinking or why they did something. It wasn't even used as a way to keep tabs on them for the contest - like when they needed help or notification of when they died. I mean, you assume it does, but Charbonneau never qualifies their justification for being there in the first place. And I have to blanch at the attempt of the romance here. I've expressed some of my qualms earlier, but I just didn't buy the romance. First of all, (view spoiler)[Whether on purpose or not, Charbonneau never made Tomas a lovable character that you want to fall for. I just felt that he has an ulterior motive - from the very start. And even if Charbonneau didn't intend for him to be that way, I just found it very hard to trust him, especially after her father urged her to trust no one. I get that Charbonneau may have kept it like that because of the "surprise" at the end, but I didn't like him at first, and he never grew on me later either. In fact, I was always a bigger fan of Will's than I am of Tomas'. (hide spoiler)] Either way, I felt the romance was kind of forced in this book, and when there were sweet scenes, they didn't sit right with me. I'm not sure if it was because of my lack of trust or suspicion of an ulterior motive, but the romance scenes just felt unnatural. I think this book has a lot of potential. But the concept isn't something that's new, and the elements are those that are borrowed from other dystopian books - as wells overused. And with the dragging beginning and the awkward relationships - not only in the romance department but also among friends - I'm just left wishing that it had been more. PREVIOUSLY: Because I couldn't resist when NG sent me an email saying I'm automatically approved... And because they're going to make a movie... Sigh, sometimes I hate my impulsive ARC-requesting compulsion.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Krys

    The Testing is the first book in a new Dystopian trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau. This is her first time writing for the Young Adult market. The Seven Stages War ravaged much of the United States and now the leaders have issued a challenge for choosing potential leaders - The Testing. The Testing is something that many children aspire to but few achieve. Cia lives in an outlying colony called Five Lakes in what remains of the country. She has worked her whole life with one goal in mind - to be chos The Testing is the first book in a new Dystopian trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau. This is her first time writing for the Young Adult market. The Seven Stages War ravaged much of the United States and now the leaders have issued a challenge for choosing potential leaders - The Testing. The Testing is something that many children aspire to but few achieve. Cia lives in an outlying colony called Five Lakes in what remains of the country. She has worked her whole life with one goal in mind - to be chosen. When Cia's hopes come true she undergoes the most grueling and stressful series of events designed to separate the strong from the weak. Comparisons to The Hunger Games are going to be inevitable with this book. And warranted. Simply put, this book owes a lot to Suzanne Collins. It would not exist without the success of that book series. However, if The Hunger Games is the overachieving, willful parent than this book is its scrappy and precocious progeny. It does not bother me that another book will be name-dropped in the marketing of this book. Those fans will like this. Scratch that, those fans will love this with the fiery passion of a thousand suns... if they can get past the similar, formulaic execution that both books share. In truth it's a mirror image, but it's a damn good facsimile. Cia is a great narrator to follow in this book. She is headstrong and forthright, a problem solver. Beneath her intelligence and her capabilities lies a fragile, vulnerable girl - a girl who hesitates when she must perform a difficult task... a girl who doubts her first instinct. It is Cia's compassion that ring true for the reader. This is a character who cannot forget the value of friendship, of trust and of reliance upon others, no matter what she faces. She's the girl who won't leave those she loves behind. Her moral compass will polarize the readers who want her to succeed, and simultaneously fail, the intense battles that make up The Testing. Cia is tested. And she fails. And overcomes. She loves, and loses. She gains and wins, but can never go back. Because nothing is as it seems in The Testing and every triumph hides lies and malice beneath. The Testing is complex. And simple. And pulse pounding. And completely readable. It's one I enjoyed reading and look forward to the sequel, Independent Study, with much anticipation. 5 out of 5 stars. - review courtesy of www.bibliopunkkreads.com

  11. 5 out of 5

    (Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas

    4 Stars for The Testing Yes, The Testing has similarities to Divergent and The Hunger Games but it's just different enough to set it apart and strong enough to make it's own name in the vast YA Dystopian category. About the Book: The world has been ravaged by The Seven Stages War. The United Commonwealth is trying to re-build with the help of a few chosen students. Cia has worked hard in school to be "chosen" as a candidate for The Testing so that she can attend the University. Unfortunatel 4 Stars for The Testing Yes, The Testing has similarities to Divergent and The Hunger Games but it's just different enough to set it apart and strong enough to make it's own name in the vast YA Dystopian category. About the Book: The world has been ravaged by The Seven Stages War. The United Commonwealth is trying to re-build with the help of a few chosen students. Cia has worked hard in school to be "chosen" as a candidate for The Testing so that she can attend the University. Unfortunately, The Testing is not at all what Cia imagined it would be. Here is where you would mentally insert comparisons to The Hunger Games. The Testing is not just cut throat - passing the different stages determines if you live or die. I don't want to provide spoilers but the different stages of The Testing were fast-paced and interesting and by far my favorite parts of the book. I enjoyed the main character, Cia. Cia was smart (she knows all about botany and is into engineering - I love that!), rational (I loved how she puzzles things together!), vulnerable (in a way that was true to her age) and caring. Even in an environment that rewards vicious, ruthless behavior Cia was kind and struggled with choices that went against her heart. I appreciated her remaining true to herself and her core values. There is quite a bit of death and violence in the book as you'd expect from a YA Dystopian read. People tend to be ruthless and cutthroat in this kind of world. The actual "Testing" process was very interesting. It was like a massive psychological mind game. It kept Cia analyzing, second guessing and doubting everything. I was right there with her for it all. There is also a touch of romance in the book but nothing inappropriate if you have a middle school reader. It wasn't dominant which I liked. I felt like Cia was too strong to be sidetracked by a boy when she had so much going on. She knew how important it was & I was glad to see that she kept Tomas from becoming front and center. I hope the rest of the series will be equally good or better. The cliffhanger ending definitely piqued my interest. I'll certainly be reading on at some point to see what happens next as they move from The Testing to the University.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Maniacup

    **I was about to type my review on this book after rating it but the power here in our country suddenly went off(again),due to another big typhoon that hit our poor country(again).Not only that the power shut down for 2 days,but the commodities shot uphill as well.And now that the power has just been restored,it's the water service we've lost this time!Oh my! Thank God,we're all okay and could still manage to smile inspite of all these calamity.** Sorry for my tragic introduction,just can't help **I was about to type my review on this book after rating it but the power here in our country suddenly went off(again),due to another big typhoon that hit our poor country(again).Not only that the power shut down for 2 days,but the commodities shot uphill as well.And now that the power has just been restored,it's the water service we've lost this time!Oh my! Thank God,we're all okay and could still manage to smile inspite of all these calamity.** Sorry for my tragic introduction,just can't help mentioning it.. Anyway,here's my review: This book definitely is going to "My favorite dystopian series" shelf!^^ The plot might look like the combination of the Hunger Games and Divergent,but I found that this is unique in its own way and I believe that this was made to become a better dystopian series,and be effectively a more desirable book. This is a story of young bright,promising students(16 year olds and above),who were chosen to be tested and prepared to become future leaders,by contributing their skills and abilities in revitalizing the earth,and to make the Commonwealth a better place in the future. I really liked the idea of the author on the "testing aspect" that she generated here,'cause it's realistic.This is the first stage of the Testing where the chosen candidates takes an actual academic examinations that they should pass,in order to proceed to three more stages. I loved all the characters and their personalities especially Cia Vale,the MC,because she's the smartest female protagonist I've ever met in a dystopian series. She's all in one: a gifted person indeed,intelligent,resourceful,brave,kind,caring,and a tinker! Yes,she fix and repair broken things!That's how talented she is. To my dearest friend who recommended this to me,thank you so much and I absolutely do agree with you..that all government officials/politicians should have under gone the Testing,specifically in our country,lol! Because the Testing also tests the candidates'character,leadership,and their ability to work and survive..not just their intellects. But then,if they did,no leaders could have been ruling us right now,right SARAH?hahaha! To all dystopian fans,don't ever miss these series! Got to dive now on the 2nd book!^^

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Seen at my blog, Scott Reads It! I have absolutely zero self control when it comes to dystopian books. I just have this urge to read any dystopian book I can get my hands on and often I end up extremely disappointed. So many authors are trying to capitalize off the success of The Hunger Games and so their books turn out to be very mediocre. The Testing is essentially a wanna-be, it tries so hard to be the next Hunger Games yet it ultimately fails. The Testing is about a test that will determine Seen at my blog, Scott Reads It! I have absolutely zero self control when it comes to dystopian books. I just have this urge to read any dystopian book I can get my hands on and often I end up extremely disappointed. So many authors are trying to capitalize off the success of The Hunger Games and so their books turn out to be very mediocre. The Testing is essentially a wanna-be, it tries so hard to be the next Hunger Games yet it ultimately fails. The Testing is about a test that will determine whether or not you can go to University. This sounds like an awesome idea but it turns out this extreme standardized test has already been done before and way better (ex: Legend). Next up we have a protagonist who is very one dimensional and suffers from lack of development. I was pretty apathetic and didn't care for Cia at all. Next up we have a love interest whose whole demeanor screamed "Peeta impostor" in my mind. Cia and Tomas's relationship was awfully similar to Katniss and Peeta's romance, there is even a moment that reminded me of the cave scene from The Hunger Games. The problem with The Testing is that it's pretty tedious and at times it felt like a chore. It's not a good sign when all of your homework is done and you're avoiding the book you're reading. The first half of The Testing (or so) is literally dialogue and Cia taking written exams. The dialogue isn't even witty or entertaining, sometimes the reader wasn't even informed what actually was said. There were so many times in The Testing when instead of saying verbatim what the character said, Charbonneau just tells the reader what they were talking about. The dialogue that was in The Testing was pretty basic and was nothing special at all. The relationships between the characters were extremely underdeveloped and I didn't care for any of the characters. I don't even remember any of the characters' names (except Cia) because they were so bland and unremarkable. I even had to look up what Cia's love interest was named which is very sad! I remember the characters from books that I read years and years ago, yet I couldn't remember the names of the characters from this book. Nothing stood out to me about these characters because they never really caught my attention. The romance in this book is extremely awkward and badly done. Cia and Tomas's relationship is built on absolutely nothing and they have zero chemistry at all. The fact that they are from the same area and that they are both taking The Testing, doesn't mean that they have to fall in love with each other. I didn't even understand why Cia and Tomas even liked each other because there was no spark between them. I'm not sure why the author included a romance, my guess is to conform with the generic dystopian mold. The Testing has some shoddy world-building and I had zero idea how The United Commonwealth was formed. The United Commonwealth was a total mystery to me and I feel like I knew nothing about it at all. To tell you the truth, if there was any world building I'm not sure I would have even cared because I was so bored with this book. I wanted to Charbonneau to make me care about the world she created but she never did. The Testing isn't absolutely terrible, there a few good things about it. The ending of this book is actually executed surprisingly well and I loved the final action sequences. The author set up the sequel in an extremely interesting way but I don't really have any interest in reading the sequel. (I probably won't read it, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that I will read it). The only thing I didn't like about the ending was the extremely obvious setting up of a love triangle; does every book really need a love triangle? I'm getting sick and tired of all these love triangles because most of them are done so poorly. I'm pretty confident that The Testing will become a popular book and will sell extremely well. The Testing already has received a starred from Publisher's Weekly and so many bloggers are obsessed with this book. I'm in the minority who didn't enjoy this book; maybe I have read way too many dystopian books. I feel like the dystopian genre can no longer surprise me because so many authors like Charbonneau are just recycling concepts that been done a thousand times over. Bottom Line: If you're looking to read a great dystopian book, The Testing is not for you.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Brigid

    Ahhh, why can't all young adult dystopias be like this?! As you may have noticed in my review for Matched, I think YA dystopias are pretty hard to write. The Testing was so often compared to The Hunger Games and Divergent that I couldn't help but draw similarities between them, as I was reading it. Though the Tests are somewhat similar to Dauntless Initiation and The Hunger Games, it's wholly unique and it's own. The pace is excellent, Cia is a an awesome protagonist (who isn't a Mary Sue), th Ahhh, why can't all young adult dystopias be like this?! As you may have noticed in my review for Matched, I think YA dystopias are pretty hard to write. The Testing was so often compared to The Hunger Games and Divergent that I couldn't help but draw similarities between them, as I was reading it. Though the Tests are somewhat similar to Dauntless Initiation and The Hunger Games, it's wholly unique and it's own. The pace is excellent, Cia is a an awesome protagonist (who isn't a Mary Sue), the plot is exhilarating, and dang, I couldn't put this book down! A brutal World War has left America, along with the rest of the world, a desolate, toxic wasteland. Cities were desecrated, and plants, animals, & humans were mutated. Malencia (Cia) Vale wants nothing more than to attend the United Commonwealth University, where she will be able to help rehabilitate her desolate country and home. After her graduation, Cia's wish is granted - she is chosen as a candidate for the Testing. If she passes the Tests thrown at her, she will be admitted to the University. The problem? Wrong answers are penalized with death, & less than twenty percent of the candidates make it through...and some will do anything to achieve a spot. I am a  huge fan of any sort of competition to the death. Mwhuahaha.  But seriously, I really like books with that concept. It's no surprise that I loved the Tests and battle-royale-like competitors. You know those books *cough*Divergent *cough* that have an intriguing setting, but don't give any detail as to how the society came to be like that? And no, there was a nuclear war and this totalitarian government rose... is not a thorough enough explanation for my liking. In The Testing, we're actually given the background of how the United Commonwealth was formed - the nuclear war is described in detail (Asia declared war on the United States, they retaliated, Africa allies with Asia...etc). I'm aware that's probably inaccurate, but you get the picture. What really fascinated me was the struggles the colonies go through trying to cope with the radiated and mutated soil, and the use of technology to develop hybridized vegetation. I also loved the ruins of the major cities like Chicago and St. Louis, and the harsh landscape that had overtaken them. The mutated animals and humans were really neat as well, because they weren't the typical zombies (?)  that are in every YA book, and they only make an appearance two or three times. They reminded me of the mutts from The Hunger Games, but that's probably just because their eyes still appear human, even though the rest of them is a mangled, bloody mess. The Testing. I really liked the idea of the Testing, but had two main issues with it: why are so few admitted to the University, & why would you kill off eighty percent of the most intelligent minds in the Commonwealth?  The whole  end justifies the means saying as an infrastructure for dystopian societies has always seemed unrealistic to me. Looking past that, the Tests were well-done. The officials are constantly monitoring every seemingly, insignificant detail and decision you make. Not only is it a very physical test, but a mental one too. You can't show any weakness or fear, but don't want to be seen as a threat, or else you will surely sabotaged or killed. “I'll have you fixed in no time. Only...” His eyes narrow. “Only what?” I feel the blush heating my cheeks even before I say, “You're going to have to remove your pants for me to do it.”   This is going to sound really unimportant and stupid (because it is), but I love it when heroines are short! Hahaha. I'm only 5'2, so it's nice when there are characters who can understand what it's like to be small. *Ahem* Moving on...Cia isn't a special snowflake; she's an average 16-year-old girl (though, a little more intelligent than most) who grew up in a relatively small colony, with her parents and four brothers. She's curious, clever, resourceful, and I loved her! Her humanity and trust in others makes her such a likable protagonist. Unlike most heroines, Cia doesn't spend half the book mooning over some guy, and isn't magically brilliant and beautiful! I also really liked that she takes an interest in mechanical engineering and botany. Cia's relationship with Tomas was done really well. Tomas may be a little cliche, but what the heck, I thought he was awesome. He's so sweet and caring to Cia. I liked how their romance wasn't insta-love, and it manifested over time. It felt realistic and genuine, and wasn't over done. I especially loved how Cia would call him out if he did something stupid. Haha. Sheesh, I love this book (in case that wasn't clear yet). The characters, setting, plot, romance, and execution are all spectacular. I honestly don't know how this book could've been any better. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who has an interest in dystopias.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christina (Ensconced in Lit)

    I won this ARC from a blog giveaway, thanks! This has probably been my favorite read in the past few weeks, but I couldn't give it five stars for issues that I couldn't ignore. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau has been on my list to read for a long time. It's been compared to the Hunger Games, and stars Cia, who is in one of the colonies who have not had any candidates selected for The Testing in a long time. The Testing has been put in place after war has devastated the world to find the best c I won this ARC from a blog giveaway, thanks! This has probably been my favorite read in the past few weeks, but I couldn't give it five stars for issues that I couldn't ignore. The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau has been on my list to read for a long time. It's been compared to the Hunger Games, and stars Cia, who is in one of the colonies who have not had any candidates selected for The Testing in a long time. The Testing has been put in place after war has devastated the world to find the best candidate leaders of the country to go to University. No one in Cia's town knows much about The Testing except for her own father, who refuses to speak about it. Cia is chosen with three other people in her class, and she starts a difficult and treacherous journey where either death or glory can await. I admit I was really into this book. Cia is a great main character-- she's humble, gracious, and has a good heart. But at the same time, she is super intelligent and has obviously been trained well by both her school and her father. Other reviewers have mentioned that she may be too perfect, at least in the sense of being able to do things and always being right for the most part, at least about her instincts on traps and puzzles. I agree. It would have been nice to see other characters contribute as well. They obviously were smart enough to get there. Some reviewers were upset with how "boring" the testing part was, but actually, I loved that part. I really enjoyed the section where Cia figures out something key that allows her to pass to the next test and thought it was pretty clever. The test revealed something about several of the characters. I did think it was odd that even though her father gave her the warning not to trust anyone, she seems to have developed a sixth sense suspicion, which seems almost too good to be true. I also liked the descriptions of the other tests. It shows what kinds of things Cia is good at before she gets tested further in the third portion of the test. The journey Cia takes with her love interest, Tomas, from thereon out was gripping, and I wanted to know what each of the characters were hiding. I was definitely surprised by some of the outcomes. This was the first book in a while that I was contemplating buying the next book on Kindle immediately to see what happens next. That said, other than the issues I alluded to above, there were a couple of other problems. I agree with others that the love connection between Cia and Tomas seems kind of quick and unbelievable. There are "hints" to the past, about looking longingly at each other during a dance, but we never see that, so we never really feel for them and root for them. And lastly, the world building isn't perfect. I definitely don't get why people have to die during the Testing. And what happens to the people who fail? It isn't clear what happens to them-- but I feel like the book hints to them being executed. It seems to me that people that put their own gain above the needs for others (meaning people who kill to "win") would probably not make very good leaders, but hey, that's me. Hopefully, more world building will be revealed in the next book. Overall, there are definite similarities between this book and The Hunger Games, and probably has been in somewhat inspired by that trilogy, but I believe it stands on its own. I don't know if it's because I haven't read a dystopian in a while (I burned myself out like many other reviewers and then took a long break), or what, but I really like the "test" aspect to the whole thing, which was definitely lacking in The Hunger Games, which it should, since that wasn't the focus. I think this was a great debut novel, and Charbonneau definitely has a talent at keeping us on our toes and glued to the page. Even though I have 20 more books to get through, I may just take a break from my reading list and pick up the second today.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Heise

    Review originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends First Thought: Oh my goodness! SO good! An engrossing, thrilling, intriguing, suspenseful story set in a well-built future world. I really enjoyed reading THE TESTING. I was engrossed it in from the start. At first, I was a little worried that it would be too reminiscent of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT, but as I got into it, I realized that it was completely it's own creation of this world, while maybe feeling like an homage to those great Review originally posted on Heise Reads & Recommends First Thought: Oh my goodness! SO good! An engrossing, thrilling, intriguing, suspenseful story set in a well-built future world. I really enjoyed reading THE TESTING. I was engrossed it in from the start. At first, I was a little worried that it would be too reminiscent of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT, but as I got into it, I realized that it was completely it's own creation of this world, while maybe feeling like an homage to those great dystopians that have come before it. It was so hard to put THE TESTING down. Joelle Charbonneau wrote a well-paced plot, and once I got to certain parts throughout, it was impossible not to keep reading so that I could find out what would happen and who would survive. I very much liked the main character, Cia, and was pulling for her throughout the book. She is smart, while still being young and sometimes making decisions that made me want to yell at her, but her intelligence and insights are what keep her going. In a game of who can you trust, she learns to really think through all situations, but that doesn't mean she figures all of it out. In a contest of who can make a great leader, it is difficult to know exactly what the officials might be looking for, but staying true to oneself and one's upbringing can always been seen as the right path. Cia's path is not easy, her decisions are not easy, her ability to live with herself after what she has to do to survive will not be easy, but she stays true to herself which is an admirable quality. The world-building was done well in giving the reader enough information when necessary, but also keeping us guessing about some things. The scenes of explanation are smoothly entrenched in what is happening in the story and propel the plot forward, but also give us enough insight into how things might have come to be this way. The overall idea behind The Testing is so smart, and so manipulative, and scary at the same time. I just hope all of the characters that I have come to like will make it through this series. And, yes, there is an element of romance, but in a brutal contest that is set up to kill off candidates who are not worthy, and a system that is set up to make you question the ulterior motives of everyone around you, and in a world in which all may not be as it seems, how can one be sure of anything that happens during The Testing or trust one's own memories? That remains to be seen. Final Thoughts: I'm calling it now - I think this is going to be the next big dystopian series...it will at least fill that hole left behind from the end of the The Hunger Games and the upcoming end of the Divergent series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    I liked the beginning here. For that reason I feel like something more original could have come for the Main part of the story because it started out that way The ending also kinda left me wondering how two more books have been written in this series, unless it’s an anthology, since it seems to be going in a cyclical direction. Unsure if I will continue series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brigid ✩ Cool Ninja Sharpshooter ✩

    Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book! Actual rating: 2.5 stars Most of the world has become a wasteland, and is in need of a new generation of leaders to piece society back together. But in order to become part of this group of future leaders, a select few teens are required to pass the Testing. Cia Vale is thrilled when she is selected as a candidate. But before she leaves, her father––a former participant of the Testing––gives her an ominous warning, hinting that there i Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book! Actual rating: 2.5 stars Most of the world has become a wasteland, and is in need of a new generation of leaders to piece society back together. But in order to become part of this group of future leaders, a select few teens are required to pass the Testing. Cia Vale is thrilled when she is selected as a candidate. But before she leaves, her father––a former participant of the Testing––gives her an ominous warning, hinting that there is a very dark side to the test she is about to take. Above all, he makes one thing clear: she can't trust anyone. When the Testing begins, Cia discovers that her father was right. It's every man for himself, and it soon becomes clear that the other candidates are willing to stab each other in the back in order to pass. … And failing has more dire consequences than Cia anticipated. Over all, this book was very "meh" for me. It wasn't terrible, but there wasn't much to distinguish it from other YA dystopian books. It seemed like it was just borrowing elements from other dystopian books and didn't have much to offer in terms of originality. (I mean, just look at it … even the cover is a pretty blatant rip-off of the Hunger Games covers; same with the chapter headings.) I found the first half of the book pretty dull. It mostly consists of a bunch of kids sitting around taking tests (like, you know, pencil and paper tests). It gradually builds up to more threatening tests, in which a person or two dies a horrible death for giving a wrong answer or making a wrong move, etc. But … it's still kind of like "extreme SATs" or something. The pace doesn't pick up until about halfway through the book, in which the final test consists of the characters being dropped off in a random place, and they have to find their way back to the starting point. (And they're allowed to kill each other along the way, of course.) But even with the rise in action, the second half of the book is pretty repetitive and I didn't find it too engaging. Cia is not a very strong protagonist, either, and she's pretty much a Mary Sue. She's super smart, and she tends to antagonize all the other characters and make them sound like inhuman, unfeeling beings. She has kind of a "everyone is a shallow jerk except for me" attitude. The rest of the characters weren't very interesting or relatable to me, either. They were all pretty bland and didn't have very strong motives or personalities. There's also a romance, but it's not very well-developed or believable. It felt forced to me. Also, the writing is pretty "telling" rather than showing. There's a lot of plot summary, and the author tends to skim over dialogue by writing things like, "First we talked about this thing, then we talked about another thing. Then we talked about the other thing some more." It's like … I don't want to just hear what you talked about, I want to know what the characters actually said. Skipping over the dialogue like that is boring, and it also detracts from the character development. I think there are some interesting themes in the book, and some interesting social/political messages about what it takes to be a leader––whether leaders should be ruthless or compassionate, and so on. And the story did have its exciting bits. But, ultimately, it just didn't completely hold my attention and it wasn't original enough to be very memorable for me, and it wasn't enough for me to want to continue the series.

  19. 4 out of 5

    AH

    Update 12/4/13 This book is free on Amazon today. Initial thoughts: 3.5-4.0 stars. Despite my reservations, I did enjoy this book and while there are parallels to The Hunger Games (2nd half of the book), it is a solid start to the series. I'll definitely be reading on. My review: The Testing takes place in a world ravaged by the aftermath of war and a series of natural disasters. Resources are limited: a university education is a highly coveted prize. Each year a group of the most talented studen Update 12/4/13 This book is free on Amazon today. Initial thoughts: 3.5-4.0 stars. Despite my reservations, I did enjoy this book and while there are parallels to The Hunger Games (2nd half of the book), it is a solid start to the series. I'll definitely be reading on. My review: The Testing takes place in a world ravaged by the aftermath of war and a series of natural disasters. Resources are limited: a university education is a highly coveted prize. Each year a group of the most talented students are chosen to compete in The Testing for one of the twenty available spots. The competition is ruthless and many candidates succumb to the pressure. Others are not so lucky: their mistakes carry a higher cost – their lives. Cia Vale is from the Five Lakes Colony. When she and four others from her small town are chosen to compete in The Testing, she is very excited. Her family does not share her enthusiasm. Her father had been through The Testing years ago and he does not have any memories of the selection process. Cia, along with her friends, is taken by skimmer to the capital city of Tosu where they will be tested. At first the tests seem innocuous: general knowledge exams in which Cia and her friends from Five Lakes Colony do well. As the testing progresses, a more sinister side becomes apparent. The competition becomes more brutal. Failure to complete a test correctly can results in pain or dismemberment or even death. Then comes phase two. This is where the candidates are dropped off into the wilderness and told to find a way back to Tosu. This is where the book becomes very “Hunger Games-ish.” Cia and Tomas vow to work together to find their way back. I think that I really enjoyed the second half of the book. The pacing was action packed and you never really knew what obstacle would be thrown in Cia and Tomas’ way. I adored Cia and Tomas The romance between these two was tender and sweet. I loved how they took care of each other. Cia and Tomas are the MacGyvers of this world. Give Cia a box of nuts and bolts and other assorted junk and that girl will fashion a bicycle. Cia was so smart and resourceful. I also liked that she had strong morals and did not resort to the dirty tricks that the other candidates used. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think why a society would have only twenty spots for a university education. Surely a society ravaged by war and all sorts of environmental disasters would want to keep all of its most promising students and leadership candidates rather than killing them off in some ridiculous testing program. This is the part where I just had to suspend belief and just keep reading. The Testing is a solid start to the series. The next book The Testing: Independent Study is expected to be published January 7, 2014. If you’d like to get a sample of this author’s writing, there is a free prequel available called The Testing Guide. This short story gives an overview of the world and also includes the first 3 chapters of The Testing. Thank you to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a review copy of this book. Review posted on Badass Book Reviews.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marketa

    Musím se přiznat, že ačkoliv na mě takhle kniha působila trochu jako vykrádačka HG a jiných "soutěžních" příběhů, tak se mi fakt líbila. :) Postavy byly suprově vykreslené, vlastně i "dystopický" svět se povedl (a to já ráda. když to dává smysl). A i přes některá klišé a věci, které mi hlava doteď nebere, se moc těším na další díl!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    What shall I say here????? I've seen the comparisons between this book and Hunger Games. I suppose that can't be escaped. YA novels tend to run in cycles. After harry Potter dozens of books placed in "magical schools" hit the shelves. Some were good, others not so much. Now that said...there's actually very little resemblance between this book and Hunger Games other than there is a part of the plot where a group of young people are in a situation where they can end up trying to kill each other. He What shall I say here????? I've seen the comparisons between this book and Hunger Games. I suppose that can't be escaped. YA novels tend to run in cycles. After harry Potter dozens of books placed in "magical schools" hit the shelves. Some were good, others not so much. Now that said...there's actually very little resemblance between this book and Hunger Games other than there is a part of the plot where a group of young people are in a situation where they can end up trying to kill each other. Here we have (another) post-apocalyptic world. The population is busily involved in trying to repair the world...repair the damage done in the "7 Stages of War". The population was left decimated (That's not to be taken literally, I actually think more than one in ten were killed) and society has pretty much had to be rebuilt from scratch. We're in North America and people are now living in colonies. The colonies are places where new populations are working on the said restoration. "And" each year the best and brightest are pulled from each colony for a "chance" to get one of twenty slots at..."The University". Of course when over a hundred candidates show up you need to reduce that pool of possible University students somehow... I like the book. I've been thinking over my rating. I'd say the 4 star rating may not be my "tippity tip top" 4 but it's an enthusiastic one. The book is good, the story is interesting (though with a few internal flaws, mostly in logic) and it does hold the interest. There's a fairly predictable but well handled secret that is part of the logical inconsistency of the story (view spoiler)[with something north of 70 young people vanishing every year, even if all University Grads are sent to "different colonies" than the one from which they originated I'd think eventually the colonies at large might "smell a rat". (hide spoiler)] with our young hero being sent off to have a chance at University (her life long dream) along with 4 other of her classmates for "Testing" to see who get's one of the University slots, we're off. I found the book to be fairly interesting from the opening lines and very interesting from the time the testing begins. I think readers will spot things before the "candidates" but that's only because "we" will go into the book looking for something. There's one other glaring logical problem with this plot, but the main character notices it herself so I assume it is something the author plans to address in a future volume. (view spoiler)[ if the population is that small and they are trying to rebuild then why kill off dozens of the best and brightest every year???? (hide spoiler)] Anyway...as noted, I like the book and recommend the book. Enjoy.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Camly Nguyen

    Absolutely incredible and what's weird is that I've never heard about his book. I just picked it up randomly in the library and voila! But seriously. This was SOOO GOOOD. It's a lot better than hunger games. It has more action, *a lot* more violence, more interesting tests. I really loved how the author showed to us that the characters were intelligent even though she never once mentioned the word "smart" in their description. I also really liked it because none of the characters in the book are Absolutely incredible and what's weird is that I've never heard about his book. I just picked it up randomly in the library and voila! But seriously. This was SOOO GOOOD. It's a lot better than hunger games. It has more action, *a lot* more violence, more interesting tests. I really loved how the author showed to us that the characters were intelligent even though she never once mentioned the word "smart" in their description. I also really liked it because none of the characters in the book are Mary Sues and Gary Stus. They all have their faults and are all different in their own way. At the end of the novel, I didn't even know what to think anymore. Who was good, who was bad?...it just leaves you thinking, just the way a good book is supposed to be. Other than that, can't really find anything negative about this book, hence the five stars... Definitely recommend to those how liked Divergent or Hunger Games. (It's kind of like a good mix of both.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bee {Quite the Novel Idea}

    I received an ARC copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. Reading this book you can't help but compare it the The Hunger Games. It's inevitable. But as I read this book and turned each page, one thought came to mind: This is way more awesome then The Hunger Games can ever be! Yes, you read that right. This is way better and so much more awesome then Suzanne Collins' series. Why? I'll tell you why without giving away any spoilers! Although this story resembles THG, it's different in a I received an ARC copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. Reading this book you can't help but compare it the The Hunger Games. It's inevitable. But as I read this book and turned each page, one thought came to mind: This is way more awesome then The Hunger Games can ever be! Yes, you read that right. This is way better and so much more awesome then Suzanne Collins' series. Why? I'll tell you why without giving away any spoilers! Although this story resembles THG, it's different in a lot of ways. First of all, the story Joelle worked out is so much better and more detailed then THG. I was so fascinated reading this book. You get a lot of detailed of what happens in the past and I liked that a lot. Especially since it never got boring. The writing is so so good. It holds my attention and I couldn't put it down. The questions you have only build up and you rarely get an answer. I still have a lot of questions left unanswered. And that's good. It makes me want to read the second book even more. It makes me curious as hell. The writing is so good I could feel the tension between the lines. Seriously, not much authors can do that. So what is this story about, really? Well, apparently all hell broke loose in the past. Literally. The world is destroyed and rebuild. That's the world Cia lives in. After she's been chosen for The Testing, her father warns her not to trust anyone. And Cia is smart. She prepares for the worst. Her brothers learned her how to defend herself and she never forgets where she came from throughout the story. She is a caring and loving girl that always wants to help others and she is strong. Maybe not physical, but mentally for sure. That helps her a lot. She isn't perfect though. She trust people to easily despite her father's warning. So when she arrives in at the Testing center, she is prepared for the worst to happen. In the beginning everything seems okay. But then the weird and sinister stuff happens that makes you, as a reader, question what the goal of the leaders of the city, the United Commonwealth, really is. It really freaked me out at times. Nothing is what is seems. I know I only talked about the Main Character, but I can't talk about the other ones without giving away spoilers. So I'll leave you with a tip. Do what Cia's father said: TRUST NO ONE.

  24. 5 out of 5

    ღ Suus ღ (pages.and.books)

    Eindelijk de tijd gevonden om dit boek weer op te pakken en vervolgens in één ruk uitgelezen. Wat een geweldig boek! Ik moet toegeven dat ik op het begin twijfelde of het niet de hongerspelen kant op zou gaan maar nee uiteindelijk is het toch echt een heel ander verhaal (GELUKKIG). En dus krijgt het boek absoluut 5 sterren van mij. Ben erg benieuwd wat de volgende delen gaan brengen. Kan nu nog niet inschatten hoe het verder zal gaan. Maar ga deel 2 absoluut snel lezen!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Aleri

    En este momento tengo sentimientos encontrados, me gusto pero a la vez siento que le falto algo, ojala y en los que sigue mejore porque las ideas de la autora me han gustado.

  26. 5 out of 5

    ⚔ Sh3lly - Grumpy Name-Changing Wanderer ⚔

    $1.99 on Kindle: December 3, 2016 https://www.amazon.com/Testing-Trilog...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Larnacouer de SH

    Birbirini tekrarlayan distopyalar okumaktan fenalık geldi yemin ederim. Bölüm atlar gibi yazılan finale ne demeli peki? YAZAR: Kitabı beğenmedin mi, madem burada keseyim devamını okumak zorunda kal. *kötü karakter gülüşü* BEN: *göz deviren emoji* *surat asan emoji* *bıçak emojisi* A#D1HJ2AKS#[email protected]?! Resmen şov ya. Git allasen.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diana Torales

    Por un lado pienso que no llega a las 3 estrellas. Espero que cuando haga la reseña ponga en orden mis ideas y pueda ponerle una puntuación definitiva. Por otro lado solo voy a decir que es demasiado drama y que es thg con otro nombre.

  29. 5 out of 5

    May

    La prueba es una novela distópica, recién salida del horno de Oz editorial en España. Me llamaba muchísimo la atención desde el primer momento y lo cierto es que me ha gustado mucho y, aunque hay ciertas cosas que no me han gustado, en general ha sido un libro que me ha enganchado y me ha mantenido siempre con ganas de saber más. Siguiendo por la línea en la que terminaba, La prueba es una novela que si por algo se caracteriza es por su ritmo vertiginoso y su estilo que engancha desde la primera La prueba es una novela distópica, recién salida del horno de Oz editorial en España. Me llamaba muchísimo la atención desde el primer momento y lo cierto es que me ha gustado mucho y, aunque hay ciertas cosas que no me han gustado, en general ha sido un libro que me ha enganchado y me ha mantenido siempre con ganas de saber más. Siguiendo por la línea en la que terminaba, La prueba es una novela que si por algo se caracteriza es por su ritmo vertiginoso y su estilo que engancha desde la primera página. Lo empecé y a los diez segundos ya estaba enganchada hasta el final. No he podido dejar de leer y cada vez que tenía un hueco me ponía con él para saber más y más. Sin duda el ritmo ha sido su punto fuerte. La trama de La prueba por un lado me ha gustado y por otro no. Si empiezo por lo positivo diría que tiene una trama que atrapa y que gustará a lxs lectorxs de distopías. Pero podemos dividir la novela en dos partes. La primera es buenísima y tiene una trama muy original; la segunda engancha muchísimo pero se parece demasiado a Los Juegos del Hambre. Y no me gusta comparar libros pero se parece demasiado. Respecto a los personajes, todos me han gustado y convencido. Creo que la autora los maneja a la perfección y nos hace creer cosas que no son de todos. Creo que ha sabido manipularnos para hacernos creer algo y sorprendernos al final. Y eso me ha gustado muchísimo, porque me he sorprendido con ciertos personajes cuya real identidad se desvela al final. La prueba es sin duda una novela para lectorxs de distopías, que disfruten de un libro que les haga sufrir hasta el final y que lxs mantenga sin despegar los ojos de sus páginas. Es una distopía que, por desgracia, decae en trama a partir de la mitad porque se parece mucho a LJDH; pero que aún así sigue enganchando y te sorprende al final. En resumen, La prueba ha sido una buena lectura, que he disfrutado más allá de su semejanza con LJDH y que recomiendo para lectorxs de distopías.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia シ

    Review posted at SoManyBooksSoLittleTime

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