Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing, #1
To Cia Vale, Graduation Day means one thing: learning if she is among the candidates chosen to undergo The Testing in hopes of attending the University and contributing to the reconstruction of the dilapidated world. Cia believes it is a dream come true when she and three others from her colony of Five Lakes are selected, but a mysterious warning from her father leaves her questioning the illustrious road ahead. Cia quickly finds that the consequences for failing a test are lethal and those you think are your friends may be willing to go to murderous lengths to eliminate you from the competition.
Yes, the first book this one reminded me of was The Hunger Games. Even worse is the fact that it kept reminding me of it. The entire time I was reading The Testing I was comparing the two which is not how I want to read a book. I want to be sucked inside, taken for a ride; I want the world around me to disappear and for nothing to exist but these words and this voice beguiling me. This was not the case with The Testing.
“Wind whistles through the abandoned streets. But they aren’t abandoned–not now. Fifty-eight other Testing candidates are here. Some are my friends, but according to Michal, others will happily cut me down…How do I find one without risking running into the others? Or the weapons they might have selected? Being forced to use the gun in my bag?”
I question Cia’s willingness to trust so easily in the beginning of the book and as a result, her tenacity and resilience were in doubt. I was reminded of Katniss whose fortitude set her apart even without Peeta, who she was thankful to work with but didn’t find it necessary. At times it seems that Cia is reasonably appalled by the methods the testers use to determine which candidates should advance, but she still seems determined to pass the test for the sake of progressing rather than being driven by the need to stop its cruelty.
Cia is more than capable of taking care of herself which is why I couldn’t understand the necessity of Tomas. He only serves to highlight Cia’s need for companionship which really takes away from her character as a whole. There is no development in their romantic relationship whatsoever, so one day Tomas is kissing her and the next he’s telling her he loves her. That is their relationship in a nutshell.
There are problems with the concept of The Testing as well. The author fails to adequately explain why the testers have no problem with candidates dying during their evaluations, but if the purpose of these tests is to find people to help rebuild the world, it would seem like a good idea not to kill off these intelligent individuals. Sure, they might not all pass the bar, but they can still contribute. Maybe the United Commonwealth government has other reasons for the callous way they administer The Testing, but I will never know because the author fails to address the issue.