The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau


Joelle Charbonneau


June 2013

Blurb on the Back:

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.


This is one of the books on my 2014 reading challenge.

I have to admit starting this book I was worried. Over the last year or so I have read an awful lot of young adult Dystopia that has sprung up since the success of the Hunger Games franchise. A lot of the books were formulaic, following the same young girl, same dangerous situation, a love interest and an evil government hell bent on subduing the masses all with not a lot of substance. At first glance this book seemed like it was going to follow suit, however, Joelle Charbonneau has successfully crafted a society and a government that has a creepy and distinct "Dystopia." 

It is more brutal than Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, and the main character has more depth than the protagonist in Divergent by Veronica Roth both of which are both stellar examples of this genre. This is the Dystopia that distinguishes itself from the others just by the sheer quality of the writing and the plot pacing. 

The plot follows Malencia "Cia" Vale who is graduating school and hoping to be selected for "The Testing" which would allow her to attend university and escape the possibility of spending the rest of her life fixing tractors. What follows is a sinister testing process in which the 108 applicants are whittled down to just over 20 successful applicants. Cia must try to survive with her friend Tomas. 

The United Commonwealth where Cia lives does not seem to be a bad place to live, it is picking up the pieces of a shattered world, and actually doing it quite well. However the state and the education system are separate and it is the Leader of the university that provides the villain.

The book is brutal, People die both by their own hand and by our heroines. The final test shows the true colours of many of the testing candidates and Cia is a hell of a lot more modest and introspective than a lot of the heroines from other books. 

All in all this is one of the best in the genre. In fact I'd probably say that it is the best since the original Hunger Games book and it has reawakened my interest in the genre.

10 out of 10 

Peace out


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