Author: Joelle Charbonneau
Length: ~300 pages each
Where Bethany’s copies came from: The Testing, personal collection; Independent Study/Graduation Day, The Indianapolis Public Library
Plot Basics: Cia Vale is selected for The Testing, a grueling ordeal designed to winnow out the best students to go to University and become future leaders of the United Commonwealth. Cia will have to learn who and how to trust and what to believe in if she is survive and make a difference.
Banter Points: I reviewed The Testing back in July 2013 when it was brand new. Then, I decided to wait until the whole series was out to finish it. I went back this summer and reread The Testing and then continued on to the next two (admittedly with a break between 2 and 3 because of book club required reading)
One of the things I like best about Cia is that she is far less whiny that many of these YA heroines. A lot of that comes through the romantic story line — she wonders some about Tomas but we don’t have to suffer through pages of her feelings about him and bonus points to Joelle for not putting Cia into the predictable love triangle that she could have. As I said in my review of The Testing, I still very much appreciate that Cia has a lot of mechanical aptitude because society seems to say that taking things apart and making isn’t a very girly skill much.
Bummer Points: Can we possibly have a YA heroine who isn’t the youngest/shortest/smartest in her town/village/class etc? The problem with this boom in dystopian novels is that they all feel somewhat familiar. You can make the same case for any genre, really. Do we really need another tortured, hard-drinking cop/private detective or secret prince/princess with unknown magical abilities to save the kingdom? The YA dystopian set-up though seems to keep lending itself to this youngest/smallest girl thing.
Also, the first book in this trilogy is the best. The twist at the end of the second one was good, but by the third one, the twist was unnecessary. Also, by the third one, there was some character whiplash, trying to keep all the professors and government officials and students straight. Admittedly, I was reading fast, but still, I got a bit bogged down in the names.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If y0u’ve got teenage readers in your life, this series is definitely worth recommending to them. For adults, it’s kind of a toss-up. If you really like the genre, go for it.