The Testing (The Testing #1)
Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 336 pages
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
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.
Although there are obviously a lot of similarities to The Hunger Games (group of kids brought together to compete against each other, and it's deadly), I still really enjoyed this book, probably because of those similarities. It's definitely dark. It's fast-paced, with a lot of action.
The fact that so few of the candidates make it is a bit farfetched, especially given these candidates are supposed to be the best and brightest. This is a question that is brought up in the book, so hopefully that question will be answered in later books. And although you know what happens to some of the candidates that don't make it, you don't know what happens to most of them.
Other than the main character, Cia, you never know who can be trusted. Cia is a great character. She is smart and resourceful, and a lot of the tests involve knowledge and skills other than just strength, and she shows that she is very capable. Even though she wants to win, she also cares about people and doing the right thing, which gets her in some trouble. There are a lot of head games and back stabbing going on in this book.
There is romance and it is believable, although a bit fast, even though Cia and Tomas do have a history together. But given the high stress situation, it makes sense. There are definitely questions when it comes to Tomas (and other candidates), but I cannot say any more without spoiling it. Looking forward to the next book!