My next book is The Testing by Joelle Charboneau is the first in a new trilogy. It’s another dystopian, post-apocalyptic future book. I know, I know, another one? But I quite like this genre. I watch Revolution and Defiance on TV, and just started watching The 100 too, plus several other dystopian series are currently on my To Read list.
The Testing is set several hundred years from now, and about a hundred years after a world war and a series of subsequent natural disasters referred to as the Seven Stages of War has left the planet scarred, contaminated, and in some areas uninhabitable. The country has banded together under the banner of the United Commonwealth and is organized into colonies. Melencia Vale, or Cia, of Five Lakes Colony is 16 and just about to graduate from school and become an adult. She dreams of being deemed smart enough to be chosen to sit for The Testing and thus go to University like her father to be a future leader of her people.
Cia and three others from Five Lakes are chosen. The artistic Zandri, handsome Tomas, and quiet Malachi. However, Cia’s father is none to happy about her being chosen. The night before she is set to leave he tells her what he remembers from his Testing. Nothing. He then tells her to trust no one.
The first part of the test appears to be like any we would take now to gain entry into college, but the second test soon proves to have deadly consequences for getting a wrong answer. It becomes clear that The Testing is much more than a series of tests to prove your intelligence, the test itself can kill you, if your fellow candidates don’t first. Cia not only has to past the test, but survive it if she wants to study at the University. Her father has told her to trust no one, but surely she can trust Tomas, the boy she’s known her whole life? Because in this test, trusting the wrong person could mean your life.
While I have yet to read Divergent, I have read The Hunger Games, and the cover claims fans of THG will enjoy The Testing. I did enjoy it, I found it quite suspenseful in fact. I can see where it is a bit similar, candidates selected and forced to take part, the deadly nature of The Testing, and the rebel faction waiting in the wings for a young leader to stand up and fight with them. I see differences too. While The Capital flaunts their decadence and how cruel they are by forcing the public to watch tributes kill each other, the colonies are very much unaware of what really happens to Testing candidates. Each family is compensated when their child leaves home for The Testing, and in some colonies the money is a much needed “gift”. No candidate every returns home, and those that do survive have their memories of the weeks of The Testing removed, so no one ever asks questions. The true nature of the tests, their cruelty, and what that the government does and allows to happen is unknown. Everyone lives in blissful ignorance, believing that everything is done to ensure that the best and brightest are working to restore the planet and country to it’s former glory.
With THG, you know going in almost everyone will die. But in The Testing, guessing who will fall victim of The Testing next, and who will survive, was half the fun of reading it. There was also the obligatory romance between Cia and Tomas, who like Peeta wants to form an alliance and help Cia. However, unlike Peeta I never fully trusted him, and with good reason it seems by the end. He is much more willing to take up arms against his fellow candidates in the final stage of Testing than Peeta was in the arena. I like the fact that Cia really can’t trust anyone, not even her love interest.
Since I found it the first of the dystopias/post-apocalyptics I’ve read to actually mention how the world got the way it is, I give it a few extra points. Knowing that helps to understand the world the author is creating and how it got the way it is.
All in all, I found it a great take on the post-apocalyptic genre and I’ll be putting Independent Study and Graduation Day on my To Read list. I give it Four Lightsabers for it’s suspense, world, and intrigue.