Friday, 21 June 2013

The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau @Twitter
ISBN UK - 9781848776531
          US - 9780547959108
Publisher UK - Templar Publishing
                US - Houghton Mifflin Books For Children
Expected release date UK - August 1st 2013
                                    US - Out now!
Find - Book Depository/Goodreads

'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 in 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 honored 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 grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.'
- Goodreads

The Testing went on to my wishlist quite some time ago and I was patiently waiting its release (which here in the UK is still a few weeks away...) so when I saw a tweet from Templar asking if people would like to review it I took a chance, sent an email and got lucky :) I am a huge fan of dystopian novels, my first taste was probably either 1984 by Orwell or Earth Abides by George R Stewart many, many years ago. My first taste of YA dystopian was, like so many other people, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy and this is why I wanted to read The Testing, because it's being compared to THG.

The good news is... I'm glad I did as I loved The Testing! I can see why there are comparisons with THG but ultimately they are quite different.. The main character, Malencia 'Cia' Vale, lives with her parents and four brothers in Five Lakes Colony and is about to graduate from school, become an adult. Having worked incredibly hard to ensure she's one of the brightest students, Cia is hoping that she'll be chosen for the Testing, a rigorous procedure created by the United Commonwealth to find the best & brightest to become students at the University and possible future leaders. The only problem is, nobody from Five Lakes has been chosen in years - including Cia's brother, Zeen, who is still bitter about this years later! When Cia and three of her classmates are chosen by a late-arriving official the last reaction she expects is for her father to say she should never have been chosen , there's a reason no-one from Five Lakes has been chosen for a while but to make the most of it and, most importantly, trust no-one. He knows this because he was a University student himself but he has no recollection of the Testing except terrifying nightmares that just might not be nightmares.

Once in Tosu City, where everything takes place, is when the action ramps up a notch but also does start to veer perilously close to becoming an HG clone. Thankfully this never happens and we get dropped right into the second part of the story. The biggest change for Cia (apart from leaving home) is that she becomes involved with Tomas, one of the other candidates from Five Lakes, that to start with seems a little too convenient. Given everything they're about to go through though Tomas is an important connection to home, especially for Cia, who is a far more emotionally driven character and needs that familiarity even with her father's warning ringing in her ears. There are the bad guys - back-stabbing fellow candidates, murderous room-mates and the good guys - Tomas, Will (another candidate) and Michal, the mysterious official who seems to be helping Cia for no apparent reason. There are also the not-so-obvious bad guys, there appears to be a lot going on just out of the corner of your eye, you can't quite catch a glimpse but you get the sense that people are manipulating both events and candidates. I love the fact that there's no love triangle although I suspect that could change in the second book after certain events in this one, Tomas may not be the perfect boyfriend after all... The ending, for me, was almost perfect. It wasn't a cliffhanger as such because we know what Cia is hearing but was intriguing enough to leave me wanting to read Independent Study right now, to find out if I'm right about Tomas, to see if Michal and/or Will play bigger parts but mainly to see what's next for Cia.

Independent Study is due out on January 7th 2014 so not too long a wait and in the meantime there is a (very) short prequel, The Testing Guide, which can be found here.

Many thanks to Templar Publishing for sending me an ARC of The Testing!


  1. Awesome glad you liked this! I'm really looking forward to it, I have an ARC from Templar and I got Independent Study too so need to read these soon!

    1. I did like it, was a bit worried when I saw reviews saying THG clone but I really liked it! I need to get my hands on Independent Study now... Hope you enjoy them both :)


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