Saturday, 4 April 2015

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

What this book is about...

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.

What initial expectations...

Like every other person who has picked up this book, I was under the impression that it would be just another Hunger Games. For those that don't know me, I have a, unique...view on the Hunger Games series. I don't like it. (I might explain to you all one day, but today is not that day) Consequently, this book wasn't necessarily something I wanted to devote my time and energy to. However, since it was a gift from a close friend of mine, I pushed myself to at least try and get through this. 

What I liked about this book...

While it is true that this book shares a lot with the Hunger Games, it is original in its own way (at least from my perspective). 
Very few of the books I've read and/or heard of feature a protagonist whose main strengths are mental instead of physical. I really admired Cia's ability to be innovative in times of danger, trying her best to avoid harm to others at all cost. She's basically the Macgyver of the new generation. Even when danger and violence was unavoidable, she always found the strength to continue on until the very end. At least once I was brought to tears over how determined and inspiring she could be.
Unlike with Katniss, I could easily relate to Cia. I guess its mostly because we both love learning and challenges, even if they make us super nervous sometimes. 
Out of all the YA books I've read recently, this one has the least number of cliches. Most importantly, there was no love triangle. Thankfully, the romance was well-paced and it didn't overwhelm me like most YA romances do. Respect to Cia for not letting a boy get in the way of success. 
In addition to that, I was relieved to find that Cia wasn't a brat like many of the female protagonists I've encountered lately. She didn't waste her time complaining about simple things like boys and appearances, which made her 100x more likable. 
Finally, my favourite aspect to this book was the mystery surrounding The Testing and what happened to the contestants after they left the competition. That's what pushed me to keep on reading. 

What I didn't like about this book...

That ending. I still can't decide whether I love it or hate it. I was so frustrated with the author for doing what she did, but at the same time it made me want to go and read the next book even more. I don't know whether you can call it a cliffhanger though. 

My overall views...

This book was surprisingly enjoyable. It restored my hope in the dystopian genre that I had lost after reading the Hunger Games. So what if it isn't that original? Most books aren't. Charbonneau took a concept I hated and made it her own. I loved it for its plot, its protagonist, and even for its romance. 

I give this book 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads!

Would I recommend it to anyone? Yes! If you love dystopian, I urge you to pick this one up!

Would I read it again? Maybe. I've already read it twice. Once when it first came out and once just recently to refresh my memory. 

Favourite quotes...

“Leaders are forced to kill all the time. Then they have to learn to live with the decisions they make. Just like I'm going to learn to live with mine.”

“...the biggest failures typically come before the biggest breakthroughs. That no matter what, I should never get discouraged. Learn from my mistakes and all will be well.”

“Things don't always work out the way we hope. You just have to pick yourself up and find a new direction to go in.”

What did you guys think? Was it too much like the Hunger Games? Were you as frustrated with the ending as I was? Who was your favourite character? Who was your least favourite character?

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