The Testing - YA Review by Lou O

Reader: Lou O
Age: 17
Title: The Testing
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pub Date: 06/04/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The Testing is about a girl named Cia, who lives in a post apocalyptic America who's subjected to a series of tests that were set in place by the government to determine who'd be best suited for being the country's new leaders. (spoilers) The thing is a Hunger Games rip off. The first half of the book takes place in a facility where Cia and her peers take the first of the tests. First a paper and pencil test, then a practical test, and then a teamwork test. The later half of the book takes place in the barren wilderness where Cia and the other "Testing Candidates" are assigned to try to find their way back to the facility.  The main character, Cia, is bland, boring, and a huge cliché. I'm paraphrasing here but stop me if you've heard these before: "I know I'm not pretty I'm just average." "I'm smart but not the smartest in my class." "There's no way he could feel that way about me while I have her as competition." It's really hard to have to care about Cia. Luckily she has the redeeming quality of being smart. She doesn't complain or whine the whole way through the book - she's more voiced as "Here's my problem. Here's how I'll solve it." Which get's boring after a while but which is luckily spiced up with some good old fashioned teen romance.  The romance was played out perfectly in my opinion. It takes place between Cia and her friend Thomas. It's a little cut and dry but it works. You get a lot of kissing but no over-blown love scenes where they stare deep into each others eyes and admit their love for one another. They more approach it like how sane people would. "We could die here so let's not spend an hour making out and instead go find some food."  I liked the book a lot but it wasn't good. Cia didn't go through any character arc and any struggles she had she literally forgets about. The only character arcs we see are from Thomas and we only get glimpses at it.
Memorable or Forgettable:  I felt the book was great a building tension but terrible at delivering once it came time. All the twists seemed to be down played by the main character. Which was a huge disappointment. There were plot devices that went unexplained (clearly holding out for a sequel) and many that weren't even observed. The book felt a little contrived too and seemed to contradict itself at a few points.
Cover:  The cover was not tempting at all. In fact it's just a cliché.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: This book is worth a read but don't expect anything out of it.

tags:  dystopian / action / romance / ya lit

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