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

The Testing (The Testing #1)
by Joelle Charbonneau
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.

Source: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



I decided to read The Testing when I got an email from NetGalley alerting me that it would be available to read for a couple of days. The premise intrigued me and as a lover of most YA dystopian novels, I knew I’d probably enjoy it. I was right! It was amazing and I cannot wait to get my hands on the rest of the series, as it quickly became one of my favorite dystopias. The Testing reminded me of a flawless mixture of elements from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins and the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie. The tone and voice was poetic and calm like Matched, but the events were ruthless and cunning like with The Hunger Games.

I loved Cia right away. I always have a soft spot for regular, unsuspecting people in dystopian worlds. While I always appreciate the more “badass” characters like Tris from Divergent or Katniss from The Hunger Games, I strongly believe most people would be unsuspecting and trusting even in a dystopian setting. Cia reminded me a lot of Cassia from Matched because she was operating on small bits of information from her family that made her question what she was getting into. It was enough advice to start the skepticism within her, but ultimately it was up to her to decide what to do in the end and how deep the conspiracy goes if there is one. She was a smart girl, obviously, as she was considered as a candidate for University. In order to be accepted into University, students chosen had to pass what was known as the Testing. No one could tell the students what the Testing had in store for them because they couldn’t remember the details.

Cia’s colony hadn’t had any students chosen to participate in the Testing in a long time, but her dream was to be chosen in order to secure a brighter future for herself. Her father was a University graduate and she looked up to him. On Cia’s graduation, she was informed she was picked along with a handful of other students from her colony and they left soon after to head to the Testing facility. Before Cia left, her father warned her the Testing was not what it seemed and his nightmares told an entirely different story than the one he was given when he passed the Testing. There were missing pieces, horrible things he had no recollection of, yet he knew them to be true in his dreams. He warned her to be careful, be wary of the ruthlessness of other competitors, and not to trust anyone.

Cia learned quickly once she arrived at the Testing facility and only chose to trust one person: a boy she grew up with named Tomas. They were a part of the same team and chose to form a bit of partnership. Cia’s skepticism about the Testing was deepened by some of the things she noticed, like the cameras watching her every move and the way the Testing administrators lacked compassion as they watched students injure themselves and made no moves to help them in certain tests. As the story progresses, the Tests given grew increasingly more dangerous. Cia grew more aware of the dark side of the Testing, but she struggled with what to do about it. And who could she trust? Her relationship with Tomas bloomed throughout all of the tests, especially the last, most difficult one.  Without giving any more details away, the plot was incredible and the biggest Test was challenging. The participants were forced to make life and death decisions and encounter dangerous things, even fellow participant. The object was to win or eliminate the competition.

The Testing dealt with major issues that typically present themselves in a dystopian world and Cia had to constantly watch her back and decide what kind of person she should be, while also considering what actions needed to be taken in order to survive and/or pass the Test. I loved watching her work through various situations and seeing what the Testing would throw at her next. I also enjoyed the development of the relationship between Cia and Tomas and the conflict of figuring out who else could be trusted.

The Testing was a wonderfully written and well executed dystopian YA novel that combined some elements from my favorite dystopian novels into a unique and adventurous story. I highly recommend it to fans of dystopias and adventure.

The Testing is the first in a dystopian series by Joelle Charbonneau. It releases on June 4, 2013 and is available for Pre-Order:

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