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Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Twins on "Thursday": The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Format Acquired: eARC
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publishing House: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
ISBN: 9780547959108
Source of Copy: Received an invitation from publisher via NetGalley


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 chose 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.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads.)


With the number of dystopian books churned out every month, it's difficult to find one that brings something new to the table. Constant comparisons to The Hunger Games are getting old, and truthfully we're on the lookout for something new, something fresh. The Testing is sadly not one of those books and while we found the concept intriguing, there were gaps in the story that begged to be filled out and parts of it reminiscent of The Hunger Games.

After the Seven Stages War - there was nothing much on this incident, just a few mentions of warfare between countries and then boom, everything has been destroyed - what's left of the population are trying to rebuild and survive. Now of course the children still go to school, they are the future's hope and if they do well enough they are chosen for the Testing and they get to go to University. But it's not as easy as Cia thought, it's not just pen and paper tests, there are also practical exams and actual fieldwork which turns out to be something like a test of survival skills and a candidate's willingness to kill. 

Malencia aka Cia Vale is the main protagonist but we don't really have much to say about her other than she's smart and resourceful. We were indifferent towards her, meaning she didn't really have that much personality, and it seems that Cia seems to be very much favored by Lady Luck. Tomas, her love interest, only spurred distrust and wariness from us. Their blossoming love for each other seemed random and forced, and despite having it stated in the summary that he's her "childhood friend", there doesn't really seem to be a connection between them. The other people Cia and Tomas meet throughout the book seemed just as flat to us, and interchangeable with any of the other characters. The only character that seemed to be worth getting to know was Michal, if only because he is mysterious.

Similarities between the Hunger Games and the Testing are well, the games itself. (Yeah, we're pretty sure we wouldn't last a minute on The Testing.) The Testing is a series of tests that not only values book-smarts but street-smarts as well. Tests range from testing water potability to killing other candidates for survival. In The Testing, the stakes are high and the grounds are rigged. There is no room for mistakes, because the penalty usually results in death.

The world-building fell flat, and there wasn't much of a back story, which we think made the novel seem lacking. All the while, we couldn't help thinking about what happened to the other countries, and if any survived at all. What is the bigger picture for the government, and what is it with those secrets that they are willing to kill to keep? Despite its interesting premise, The Testing falls short of gripping the reader to continue on reading, which is kind of what we were expecting.

Are we willing to give the next book a chance? We're thinking maybe, if only because we're curious as to what happens next and if Lady Luck still proves to be on Cia's side.

The Testing is expected to hit bookstores in June 2013.


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