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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"The Testing: The Testing #1" by Joelle Charbonneau (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Joelle Charbonneau's Official Website Here

: 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.

FORMAT: The Testing is the first book in a series of YA dystopia novels. It has a mix of adventure, action, romance, and sci-fi/futuristic elements. It stands at 336 pages and was published on June 4, 2013 by Houghton Miffin Books for Children.

ANALYSIS: Dystopia novels like Divergent and Hunger Games have caused the literary world to go into a craze. Publishers are looking to jump on the bandwagon and find the 'next great' hit to land in the dystopia genre.

The Testing is the first book in a proposed trilogy of dystopia YA novels. While I would like to say it certainly compares to Hunger Games and Divergent, I feel there are certain elements that are lacking that give it the star power these two wonderful series had.

The Testing had all the elements that can be found in virtually any dystopia novel. There is the big, bad government that knows what is best for all the citizens, the select few who are 'chosen' to be the ones to lead the world, and horrific testing/challenges that younger children have to go through in an effort to prove they can be great leaders of the future world. This is of course all mixed in with young children meeting horrific deaths and of course, the mandatory love story. Yes, this is all here in The Testing.

Unfortunately, what is not in The Testing is the ability for readers to form an emotional connection with the characters. No matter how hard I tried, I failed to form a connection with any of the characters. This included all the characters, from the main characters Cia and Tomas, to the secondary characters; there was just no connection there. I felt no warmth, no love, not even hatred for the characters. I felt nothing.

Does the lack of character development mean it is a bad book? Not necessarily so. If you enjoyed Hunger Games and Divergent or are in the target audience for this novel, I really believe you will enjoy this series. There is just enough of a unique twist to keep those readers satisfied. There's action, adventure, betrayal, and love. All of which satisfy the target audience of the book, and that's the main purpose of it. Isn't it?

However, if you are looking for a story that you can really root for the characters and feel a connection/bond with them, I am not really sure you'll find it in this novel.

Overall, The Testing was a quick read, a page turner, and had a slight unique twist. I just wish there was more warmth, emotion, and character development. I think it works for its target audience, but probably will not have the huge appeal Hunger Games or Divergent has. Will I read the second book? I will probably pick it up to see if the characters change or develop over time.


Anonymous said...

I'm only partway through reading this one myself, and I agree with all the points you made. So far I haven't seen anything to make this one stand out from the dozens of other YA dystopias on the shelves, and the character I connected and related to the most was Daileen, the protagonist's friend. Even the writing style doesn't particularly stand out in my mind. It's not a bad book, as you say, and might even seem better if it wasn't trying to force its way into an oversaturated market.

Tabitha (Pabkins) said...

Though I picked this one up I haven't read it yet because quite frankly - I just don't like it when publisher's do that. One book makes a big splash and then they churn out and flood the market with books all in that same genre and style. I do want to read The Testing - but I'm just not a binge reader of the same subgenre back to back. And now you say you couldn't connect...well that discourages me and puts it off more haha.


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