Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Review: The Testing

Title: The Testing
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Review Copy: Digital ARC from NetGalley
Release Date: June 4, 2013

Summary: 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. 
-- cover image and summary via Goodreads

Review: The Testing has a premise that has been used before - after horrible wars, the government needs to rebuild and wants to find the very best of the best to help create the new nation. To do this, they choose young people and run them through some tests. It is a survival of the fittest type of situation. This is no Survivor reality show though. It is the real deal and there are life or death choices to be made. Such an idea is not completely unique, but Charbonneau did keep it interesting  for the most part and filled it with plenty of action and suspense. She managed to fit in a few surprises along the way including machine guns, betrayal and a few assorted predators. 

Though some of it felt like a repeat of recent popular dystopian novels, Cia was not just a copy of the others.  She is impressive from the very beginning. She's intelligent, cares for and respects her family, and has some serious mechanical skills. She has a girl-next-door appeal. There is no doubt that she's tough, but she also manages to stay warm and open. That made it very easy to root for her. Cia's character is the strongest part of the novel.

Dystopian fans will likely enjoy it, but there isn't a lot about it that stands out from the rest of the crowded shelves.



  1. I have this one on my TBR. It doesn't sound super exciting - like you said, nothing to make it stand out - but several people I respect have liked it. Plus the author was quite nice to me.

  2. I did enjoy it. I think people will like it, but it's hard not to think "oh, yeah, this part is like Hunger Games, this part is like Prodigy, and this is like Matched." I will probably read the sequel.