OK everyone, I know have Internet, and am back form vacation, so hopefully I can catch up here.
My next review is for Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau, the second book in her Testing Series. Set in a dystopic future where the world has been destroyed by war and a series of natural disasters, teenagers are selected for the Testing at the age of 17. Unfortunately, the penalty for a wrong answer at any time during the Testing is death.
When we left our heroine, Malencia Vale, she had just passed her Testing, ie survived. However, she has no memory of the events that transpired, only a recording she made chronicling the events of the last several weeks. A recording she’s not sure she wants to believe. Could her fellow classmates really be capable of the things she says they are? Are the Testing officials really as bad as she says? Determined to find out, Cia sets off on her own unsanctioned course of study to find out the truth about the Testing and the University. In order to find out the truth, she’ll need help, but can she trust Thomas, the boy from home when she suspects he killed a friend during the Testing? Or Will, the sweet, friendly boy her recording says tried to kill her and Thomas during the Testing? Keeping up her studies and investigating will be risky, for is she falls behind in class – or is caught – the consequences could be deadly.
This sequel was equally exciting and suspenseful as the first. The Induction into their courses of study was very reminiscent of the Testing, and just one more way to weed out the “week”, only this time the students from the capital city who did not go through the Testing are being tested too. This really drove home the point that this more than cut throat, it’s life and death, and not everyone realizes this.
Learning about the capital and a little about the government painted a bigger picture of this world, and filled in a few gaps. It was nice to learn that not everyone in the capital has had a nice life. Clearly, it is a world on the brink again. I also like the addition of new characters, both ones to hate and ones to like. Cia made both friends and enemies along the way. There was some good characterization with the new characters.
However, I began to get annoyed with Cia. I began to see what the Testing officials saw, she’s too good. Too smart. Way to smart for a seventeen-year-old, granted this is a future where scientific, mathematical, and mechanical skills are valued about artistic skills and creativity, but I felt she knew way to much advanced level stuff for someone who is just starting college. Plus, she remembers everything she’s learned. Does she have a photographic memory or poses genius level intelligence? I don’t know, it’s never said. It was almost as if she already knew everything, so why was she even going to college?
I also began to have issues with her personality. This girl has some serious trust issues, and with reason, someone she trusted did try to kill her. However, Will has no memory of that and is back to his friendly, smiling self, and she doesn’t really give him a chance to prove to her whether that act was out of desperation – which it clearly was since desperate people will do just about anything to survive – or his true personality. Same with the others. Someone offers her help, and she balks at them and is immediately suspicious of them, again, with reason since trusting the wrong person would be deadly. She can correctly can tell who not to trust, but can never seem to identify those that she should at least temporarily trust until she figures them out. Like Will and another boy whose name escapes me at the moment. Plus, giving trust will earn you trust. If she’s going to fight the system, she can’t do it alone, she needs to learn to trust people, accept help, and get some allies. No revolution was one by one person. Even Katniss and Peeta make temporary alliances until they find out which side the other Tributes are really on. If Cia keeps trying to do it all herself, she’ll end up loosing the fight before it began.
I also expecting this to take place over a longer period of time, like at least an entire semester, or two, not just a few weeks, especially since the final book is called Graduation Day.
So all in all, I think I give it 3 1/2 Lightsabers for the negative parts. Up next is a review of Fairest by Marissa Meyer followed by Graduation Day, which is sitting on my dinning room table.
I leave you with a great quote about libraries from the book though. I thought it was a great that at the very least the government understood the value of books and knowledge, even if they did take getting into college too far.
No one knows how much of the history once contained inside is now missing because of the cold, sometimes chemical-laden winds that whipped through the Midwest during the Sixth Stage. When the United Commonwealth was officially established, one of its first laws banished the practice of book burning. Though our leaders agreed that warmth was important, they believed preserving the written documentation of our history and culture was even more vital. All citizens who had books were directed to bring them to this library, where an official exchanged the valuable pages for blankets, clothing, or other resources. The exchange allowed the country to retain memories from the past that could help rebuild the future.