Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Testing

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
3/5 stars
Houghton Mifflin, 2013
325 pages
YA Dystopia Post-Apocalyptic

Source: Library

I requested this from the library for my sister who read about it in a magazine and liked the sound of it. I liked the comparisons to The Hunger Games. She ended up saying she found it boring but I tend to be less picky than her and I already had it checked out from the library so I proceeded. I can fully see how part of this merited its The Hunger Games comparison but I personally found it lacking in multiple ways.

The titular testing comes from the government, where they attempt to select the brightest and best of recent high school graduates and put them through four rigorous tests to determine who will continue on to university. In this post-apocalyptic world, the citizens have worked hard to build a new life for themselves and going through the testing is one way to provide a much better life for yourself (through this new career) and your family (who receive a payment for your loss). Cia Vale is thrilled to be selected for The Testing even after warnings from her father who survived the tests himself. Once there, she has to decide who she can trust and who will happily kill her.

My general takeaway from this book is that we just didn't click. I had to force myself through each page instead of eagerly flipping through them. For whatever reason (writing, my mood, etc.) I could not connect with Cia who narrates and despite my love of students undergoing testing (like in Ender's Game), I didn't feel engaged with that part either. I feel comforted knowing that my sister wasn't impressed either and that there have been plenty of neutral to negative reviews out there

Of the four tests, it is the last one that brings to mind The Hunger Games. The first three take place inside the city grounds. The fourth deposits the remaining candidates (many have already died by that point) some days away and forces them to fend for themselves as they attempt to make it back. Some candidates use that opportunity to kill the competition. But even this failed to compel me. I don't know if I've read too many books in this genre (which isn't really my favorite anyway) or what exactly explains it but I found most of this book super dull.

Especially dull are the characters. Main character Cia is very intelligent, no doubt an that is clearly shown to us. She also possesses good instincts, knowing who to trust, when to hold back, and when to go full throttle (for the most part). I feel like she's exactly the kind of heroine I ordinarily love but not here. Her friend/love interest Tomas is even worse-I kept thinking he was going to turn out to be quite evil but that probably would have been too interesting.

Overall: I have so little enthusiasm for this book and cannot encourage you to check it out unless you are a very serious hardcore dystopia/post-apocalyptic fan who can't get enough. Lovers of contemporary would do well to steer clear.

Other Opinions: Some of my blogging friends had more positive things to say-read their reviews to excite yourself about this book!
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
My Precious
New, Borrowed, Used
Once Upon a Prologue
The Book Cellar

14 comments:

  1. Awww, sad you didn't like it! I've heard a lot of good things about it so far, I still want to read it, but it's good to know that not everyone likes it!

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    1. I know some people really liked but I was just so underwhelmed. I wanted a lot more action and passion than I got.

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  2. I actually liked this book and its follow-up but I can see that, if you're not a huge post-apoc/dystopia fan, it wouldn't work for you. The secondary characters were pretty cardboard-cutout but I did like Cia.

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    1. Glad to know it worked for you but I can tolerate bland contemporary far more than I can tolerate bland post-apoc/dystopia (love that abbreviation for post-apocalyptic btw!)

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  3. I'm not sure if I am going to like this, and I have it too. Too bad it was on the boring side. :(

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    1. You could end up being one of the ones who loves it and I hope that's the case. It just wasn't for me.

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  4. Sorry about not clicking with the book. I have an Kindle book of this, but have yet to read it. I've been hearing some great things. Now I'm curious to see what I'll think of it :) Great review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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    1. I hope you like it if you give it a chance. I just cannot muster enthusiasm for it.

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  5. This book sounds really interesting; it sucks this book wasn't as good as it sounded. Thanks for the review!
    -Danna

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    1. I love the idea of the testing-I just don't think it worked all that well when executed.

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  6. Very interesting review, I have seen average reviews of this from everyone so I think I might skip it too. I have little patience for slow books.

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    1. I've seen a lot of average reviews too and I was sad to add my voice to that chorus. I always want the books I read to be awesome!

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  7. I enjoyed this one but found it may be because I hadn't read HG yet.

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    1. You haven't read THG yet?! You need to get on that!

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