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The Testing

The Testing - Joelle Charbonneau The Testing was a quick and interesting read. There was enough action to keep me turning the pages and plenty of deception and secrets to keep me engaged in trying to figure out what was going to happen next.Every year, the Commonwealth chooses from the brightest students in each colony to attend the The Testing. This is a series of tests the candidates are put through to determine who will attend University and become the future leaders. The Five Lakes colony has not had representatives participate in quite a while and it turns out there is good reason for it. Malencia (Cia) Vale is one of four graduates from Five Lakes that get chosen to participate. This is something she has worked extremely hard for and just prior to making the journey to Tosu City, where the testing will be held, Cia has a heart to heart with her father who also participated in The Testing when he was young. He cautions her to trust no one and be careful. Another candidate from Cia’s colony is Tomas. Turns out he is the smartest person in her class (according to Cia) and while they have worked together on school projects, they never really had an opportunity to get to know each other. All of that changes as quickly they gravitate toward each other and become one another’s confidante….kind of.Cia and Tomas trust each other but there are definitely limits to that trust. For Cia, I get the sense that she wanted to fully trust in him but she plays it off that it is never a good time to reveal any of the secrets she was keeping. Because we don’t get to view anything from Tomas’ point of view, I’m at a loss as to what his deal is. I think he does truly care for Cia but I get the sense that there is something more to him and his actions. Considering the final secret that is revealed regarding what happened while Cia and Tomas were separated during the fourth test, I feel somewhat justified saying that.I thought the world building Charbonneau did here was wonderful. As a reader I was brought into the history of the Cia’s world through her testing. As she responded to the questions as well as traversed through the uncolonized areas, we were able to learn more about how things came to be as well as just how bad it really was for some. I was really not expecting the humans that were not really human anymore so bravo on that one. This book will ultimately be compared to other dystopians out there (there is one in particular that comes to mind) but I have to say, I was impressed with this novel. It isn’t pretty and these are life and death situations the candidates are facing. It was interesting to see how some responded to the pressure and situations. Cia never compromises her beliefs and what her parents taught her just to survive and while this is admirable, it is one of the things that causes trouble for her. Don’t get me wrong, Cia is tough and very smart. She thinks things through but she also isn’t afraid to act and do what she feels is right or needs to be done. She just tends to give people the benefit of the doubt and more often than not, it came back to bite her. Overall this was a great first book in the series. I found it interesting and although there is somewhat of a cliffhanger with this one, it was a logical place to create a break. I am definitely looking forward to the next book and hoping to learn more about Michal and these rebels as well as see if Zeen makes an appearance. It will be interesting to see what happens as things start to be revealed (hopefully) in the next book.Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of the book for review.