Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle Charbonneau

Posted 23 May, 2013 by Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms in Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle CharbonneauThe Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Series: The Testing #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on 4 June 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Suspense, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon |
5 Stars

When Cia graduates - and being one year younger than her class-mates - she hopes she will be picked for the Testing. During the long speeches at the graduation, no government officials from the capital show up to tell the people of Five Lakes colony whether any of their graduates have been picked. Cia is bitterly disappointed, she is the youngest, and she is the only one left to actually follow in her father's steps. He went through the testing, and university, and now, he's among the few people in their colony who can actually make sure there is enough food for everyone thanks to his DNA enhanced plants.

*I received a free ARC of The Testing from Houghton Mifflin Books for Children via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review*

The Testing starts with Cia’s graduation, and the hope that she will be selected for the testing in the Commonwealth’s capital Tosu City. Several of Cia’s friens think she’ll be chosen, even if it has been a long time since any student from Five Lakes has been chosen. When no government official shows up, Cia tries her best not to show her disappointment, her oldest brother Zeen understands exactly how she feels, though. The next day, a government official arrives, though, and he wants to see Cia and three other graduates from her class. Cia is elated when she realizes she has been chosen for the testing, her dad, however, seems troubled more than anything else.

The one advice Cia’s father gives her the last evening she is home is to trust noone. Not even the other kids form her class. And he tells her the few things he remembers from his own testing. It gives Cia chills, and she suddenly understands that maybe the testing isn’t the thing she has hoped for during her whole childhood. Before leaving the very next morning, Cia can pack very few things, and one of the things she chooses is a communication device her father and her brother have modified a little.

What I liked the most about The Testing is Cia, and her resourcefulness! She is the kind of young woman who is looking for solutions, not for problems. And when the going gets tough, Cia is actually even tougher! At the same time, she really cares about her friends, and helps out other people she encounters during the testing in the classroom. Even in the capital, the testing is truly unforgiving, though, and what Cia and the other characters go through is really gruesome. Yes, they are fed, and they have beds to sleep in – but really, the pressure they are under, and the way failing is treated is chilling to say the least! The final part of the testing is even worse, as all the candidates who are still being tested are left far from the capital, and they only have the few items they brought from home, plus three items they could choose before leaving the capital.

The adventure and the action start for real once the candidates are in the wilderness, and I was so invested in Cia, Thomas and their success it was really hard to read about some of the things they had to got through. The government in this society gets no points from me! Cia has a very good explanation for why things are the way they are – and it is that they now need a leader who is strong enough to strike back when s/he has to, but also smart enough to know when to retreat.

The world building is really well done! The was the readers learn more about why things have become so difficult through the way candidates talk to each other, or the interactions Cia has with her family at the beginning of the Testing made the world accessible in a very natural way. It made sense that there would be less water, dry lands and difficulties to grow enough food.

I loved Cia, and her character development followed the same direction during the whole testing. She always tried to find the best solution, even when she was in untenable situations, she would only go to drastic measures if it was the only way to save herself. Her friendship with Tomas from her hometown is what saves both her and him, I think. They can lean on each other, both to move forward, and to stay safe in this extremely aggressive environment, where there is not way to know who is friend and who is foe. And where friends end up not being friends at all!

The pacing is quite slow at the beginning of The Testing, but as the characters move away from the city, the pacing is faster, until it reaches a peak where anything is possible! I was always kept at the edge of my seat, and I could never guess what would happen next. The only constant is Cia’s resourcefulness, and her caring. And I think both of these things are what will keep her together in the future books of The Testing series. The writing is really good, the ‘next page’ button on my kindle practically made itself move forward, not much effort was demanded of me at all!

Towards the end, Cia and Thomas know they will have their memories wiped, and they are trying to find ways to hold on to those memories anyway, because amid all the horrible things that happened during the testing, they lived through their first kiss, and started to have real feelings towards each other. And there were some things they wanted to make sure to remember too – like who to trust, and who to stay very far away from.

The very end broke my heart! But in a really good way, and now, I’m even more impatient to read book two in this series! As I said – Cia’s resourcefulness really is something else! Now, I have seen that some people who compare The Testing to Hunger Games, and although I love the Hunger Games, I can’t really say I agree. The Testing is not something that seems ominous to those who are chosen, they think they will be able to take some theoretical tests, then go on to university. This is pretty far from what happens, and not only their intellectual skills are tested, their survival skills as well as their ability to judge the character of other people is at least – if not more – important. And there is no victors in The Testing, only a bunch of kids who don’t remember the last month of their lives…

Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

About Linda @ (un)Conventional Bookworms

Linda is an English as foreign language teacher and has a Master's degree in English Language and Literature. She's an avid reader, blogger, compulsive one-clicker and a genre omnivore. Ever since she learnt how to read she has been seen with a book or two in her hands everywhere she goes.

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0 responses to “Review: The Testing (The Testing #1) – Joelle Charbonneau

  1. This sounds like a very interesting book. Your description of Cia reminds me of Claire. This one might make it to my to read someday list.

    • Oh, yes, I didn’t even think of Claire, but it’s a good comparison, Xyra! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • I loved it! Especially once they left the exams in the capital… I hope you’ll like it, too, Stormi! Happy reading 🙂

  2. The fact that they don’t know what is in store for them and they really want to contribute to society is completely different than Hunger Games. It’s a much sneakier way to control society. Then the memory wipes. Ack! I only worry it will be like those stories where the MC wakes up at the end because everything was a dream! I get violent with those type of reads, slamming the book against the couch violent, but still. Still Cia sounds like my kind of girl and the romance sounds slow and sweet.

    Robyn Jones recently posted: Think Out Loud [10] Worst First Dates
    • Yes, they really do want to contribute, but when things get difficult, they also show their true selves. Some are really great, like Cia… others not so much.

      And there’s no dreaming or waking up at the end, don’t worry, Robyn, I would have absolutely hated that!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  3. it’s great to find a good dystopian book! I need to read moer of them or maybe I need more time lol. I hope the sequel will be as good!

    • Oh, me too, Melliane, but the was this ended, I think the sequel will be amazing 🙂 And yes, I’d like some more time as well, please!

  4. Lexxie, this book sounds incredible! It is one that caught my attention but now I really want to read it. Cia sounds like such an amazing heroine – one teen girls will be able to look up to. I like books with strong girls. 🙂 I’m glad you loved it.

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: **Review ~ Lockout ~ Maya Cross
    • I love books with strong girls as well, and Cia is the kind of girl I’d like my kids to read about. I hope you’ll like it as much as I did, Brandee 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Maybe you’ll get to it once all the books in the series are out? I totally get what you mean, though. It’s hard to keep up with so many different characters over the span of several years!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lectus 🙂

      • Oh! Ha ha, yes, that’s what meant about series. I read Chaos Walking, The Maze Runner, and Hunger Games in a sitting. All books were out!

        I remember when I started reading The Chemical Garden series; months past b/w Wither and Fever (the next book). When I got to it I had lost all connections with the characters!

        So yeah! I refuse to read series that I have to wait for publication 🙂

        • I have the same problem. Sometimes, it’s not only the connection with the characters, it’s even remembering who is who, and why they’re there 😀

  5. I’ve been seeing this book around more and more and I’m really getting into it now! Your review will definitely have me running to add it to my TBR – I loved how you described Cia, how action-oriented she sounds as well as clever! The world-building sounds amazing too 😀 eeep! Thanks for sharing doll ♥

    Micheline recently posted: Friday Favorites *2*
    • Thank you so much for the compliments, Micheline! I hope you’ll like The Testing as much as I did 🙂

    • It is only at the very beginning that it’s mentioned that she is younger than her class-mates. I guess if it was something that was continuously shoved at us, it would bug me too, but it didn’t.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lyn 🙂

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